Bo Bice: Harold Elwin Bice, Bo Bice Age 36 Nov 1, 1975
January 16, 2012 by staff
Bo Bice: Harold Elwin Bice, Bo Bice Age 36 Nov 1, 1975, Harold Elwin “Bo” Bice, Jr. (born November 1, 1975) is an American singer and musician who placed second to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol. He has recorded three studio albums, including one on RCA Records. In 2005, Bice charted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 with a rendition of “Inside Your Heaven.”
Bice was born in Huntsville, Alabama to Nancy and Harold Elwin Bice. Music is in his family; his mother was a gospel singer (as were his grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunts). His father and his third cousin, Tanner Gell, play guitar. His other third cousin, Tristen Gell sings.
Bice was nicknamed “Bogart” as a newborn by his grandmother (“Granny Madge” because she thought he had “Humphrey Bogart eyes”. His family continued to call him Bogart, but when Bice was in kindergarten he shortened it to “Bo” because he didn’t think Bogart was cool.
Bice’s parents divorced when he was very young, and his mother remarried years later. Bice grew up with his mother and step-father, Nancy and Earle Downes (a Coca-Cola manager), step-sisters Jenny and Sharan Downes, and half-brother John Cohran. Bice has two other half-siblings, Candace and Matthew, on his biological father’s side. The Downes family moved around the South frequently. They lived in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, including the metro area of Atlanta. In 1990 when Bice was 14 years old they moved to England, as part of his step-father’s European assignment with Coca-Cola in London. Bice spent his teenage years living in Gerrards Cross.
Bice attended London Central High School, a Department of Defense school primarily for children whose parents served in the military or worked at the U.S. Embassy. In high school, he was found carrying his guitar everywhere, played football, attended proms, and had several girlfriends. It was around this time when Bice worked with some English alternative rock musicians. He formed his first band, Spinning Jenny, while living there.
Bice would have graduated in 1994, but in the fall of 1993, Bice dropped out of high school just before turning 18 to move back to Alabama, where he earned his GED and attended classes at Calhoun Community College from November 1996 to May 1997. Upon leaving Calhoun and spending one semester at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Bice turned professional and performed in shows all across the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Europe. He is a veteran of the nightclub circuit and an experienced songwriter, releasing his first CD in 1995 with his band Purge. His other pre-Idol bands include Blue Sued Nickel (sic) and SugarMoney. Among his credits are opening for Blackfoot and Warrant as well as performing live and recording with Johnny Neal, formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. Bice had recorded other albums prior to his stint on American Idol, which included “Ex Gratia” (1999) with his band Purge, and “Recipe for Flavor” (2000) with SugarMoney.
For the 2005 season, Idol producers raised their required age limit from 16-24 to 16-28. In August 2004, Bice’s mother and several other family members encouraged him to go try out, since he was within the eligible age limit (he would turn 29 in November 2004). He asked his mother to come along, and she took him up on that dare.
Along with Constantine Maroulis and Taylor Hicks (winner of Season 5), Bice was one of the oldest contestants to audition and participate on American Idol. Bice and Maroulis were among the first contestants to compete using the rock idiom.
A Southern rocker in musical approach and appearance, Bice did not fit into the normal American Idol mold. His early performance of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” drew raves from the judges and established him as one of the favorites in the competition.
During the final three performance show, Bice took the risk of performing without a band or backup singers. This was the first time anybody attempted to sing a cappella at this stage in the competition. He sang “In a Dream”, an obscure song recorded by Badlands. His performance was highly praised by the judges, including guest judge Clive Davis, who spoke of looking forward to making an album with Bice.
In June 2005 Bice was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine that his last thought during the Idol finale was, “Please, God, don’t let me win this thing.” In comments during a subsequent appearance on The Today Show, Bice backed off this stance a bit, saying that he thanked all those who had voted for him. He then played solo acoustic guitar and harmonica to one of his own compositions, in addition to singing his Idol songs with a band.
In Alabama, May 24 was declared “Bo Bice Day” by Governor Bob Riley. In fact, Bice’s pride in being an Alabama native resulted in the adoption of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit “Sweet Home Alabama” as his “theme” during his tenure on American Idol. Two members of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd surprised Bice during his trip home from Idol and performed “Sweet Home Alabama” with him in his home town of Helena, Alabama.
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