Drake Bell was one of Nickelodeon’s most famous stars in the past decade. Starting from commercials to small roles in television shows, Bell worked his way up until he had his own series, lead movie roles, and a trio of successful albums. Two accidents almost stopped Bell’s career on its tracks, plus a long-term feud got him entangled with one of the rising names on the industry, but he proved to be resilient.
Through his long and challenging journey to success, here’s what happened to Drake Bell:
How Drake Bell Got Started
Jared Drake Bell was born in Santa Ana, Orange County, California on June 27, 1986 to entrepreneur Joe Bell and Women’s Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) Hall of Famer Robin Dodson. He was the youngest of the four siblings composed of three brothers and one sister. During these early years Drake dreamed of both acting and singing as future career choices.
At the tender age of five, and with encouragement from his father, Bell starred in his first acting role for a Whirlpool Appliances televised commercial where he ate a Popsicle while sitting beneath a tree. Afterwards he had his first appearance on a television show as Little Pete in the “Swing Time” episode of Home Improvement on May 04, 1994.
Bell landed his first movie role as the ten-year-old David in the 1995 drama film The Neon Bible.
In the same year he starred in his own film debut as Kenny Smith in Drifting School. The following year he had a brief cameo in Jerry Maguire as Jesse Remo, the boy who gave the finger to Tom Cruise.
He starred in more episodic roles in the subsequent years such as in Men Behaving Badly (1996), The Pretender (1997), The Drew Carey Show (1997), and Seinfeld (1998). He also wrote his first song while he was eight years old.
1999 was the year where his career soared to greater heights. He starred as the lead role in the direct-to-video fantasy film Dragonworld: The Legend Continues. His performance as Cage Redding in the television film The Jack Bull earned him a nomination for the Young Artist Award in 2000. It was also in 1999 where Bell became a regular on Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy television series The Amanda Show along with his real-life best friend Josh Peck. The pairing of handsome and tall Bell, and the shorter yet bouncy Peck gathered an immense fanbase.
In 2001 Bell co-starred with The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey in television film Chasing Destiny. During filming he had guitar lessons from Daltrey, and this tutelage helped Bell in his musical pursuits. He stopped landing roles in movies and focused on television series while practicing music and songwriting on the side. On one The Amanda Show episode in 2002, Bell performed his own song “Lost A Lover” for the first time in television and received tremendous applause from the audience. The next year saw the launching of Bell’s own band, Drake 24/7 and appeared on Nickelodeon’s comedy show All That. Bell’s impressive talents in music helped attract numerous fans, mostly composed of teenage girls.
After The Amanda Show was cancelled in 2002, Bell and Peck were reunited in their own comedy show Drake and Josh in 2004. Bell played Drake Parker, an exaggerated version of himself who also performed his own songs on-screen. The show’s theme song, “Found A Way” was also penned by Bell (later included in his debut album and in the Drake and Josh soundtrack). Drake and Josh became a massive hit with its teenage audience, and Bell’s role as romantic interest in the music video of the 2004 Fefe Dobson song “Don’t Go” assured his rise to being a heartthrob.
Bell co-starred with Miranda Cosgrove, a fellow Drake and Josh star, in the 2005 remake of the 1968 film Yours, Mine & Ours. In the same movie Bell performed with Christian rock band Hawk Nelson in their featured song “Bring ‘Em Out”. He also made an appearance as himself in the Zoey 101 episode “Spring Fling” aired on March 13, 2005.
Five months later, Bell independently released his debut album entitled Telegraph and was met with positive reviews. Several of the songs in the album were written by Bell while he was 14 and 15 years of age, and all of the tracks were co-written with Michael Thomas “Backhouse Mike” Corcoran. The 9th track, “Down We Fall” was played in a Drake and Josh episode, and the 11th track “Highway to Nowhere” was performed in one Zoey 101 episode as well.
2005 ended disastrously for Bell as he was involved in a head-on collision on December 29. His ‘66 Mustang was struck by a Mercedes, and he was rushed to the hospital with a broken jaw, fractured neck, missing teeth, and a multitude of lacerations on his face that required almost 70 stitches. Josh Peck visited his best friend constantly until Bell was released. The injuries weren’t life-threatening but he had to undergo plastic surgery and physical therapy to facilitate his recovery.
2006 opened with the release of Drake and Josh Go Hollywood which was ranked as the highest rated television movie aired on Nickelodeon and on all cable during its first week. The first single entitled “I Know” was released on October 2006 for his upcoming second album, It’s Only Time.
In November, Bell signed up with Universal Motown Records for the release of his second album in December. The songs in It’s Only Time were also co-written with Backhouse Mike and other co-writers, and was more positive compared to the dark tones of Telegraph. The album’s upbeat nature was attributed to Bell’s recovery after the grievous accident last year. Positive reviews take note of the album being clearly influenced by The Beatles that favor vintage tunes more than its modern auditory counterparts. With almost 23,000 sold on the first week, It’s Only Time landed on the number 81 spot of the Billboard 200 chart, and on number 21 of the Billboard Rock Charts. The album also reached number 4 in Mexico’s Albums Top 100.
The 6th track “Makes Me Happy” proved to be a hit as it sat on the number 3 spot of Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, number 67 on Billboard Pop 100, and number 45 on Billboard Digital Songs chart.
Drake and Josh aired “Really Big Shrimp”, the official series finale, on August 03, 2007, but the show ended on September 16, 2007 after airing two more episodes. Nickelodeon failed to air the episodes in proper production order, hence the episode “Dance Contest” was the last one to be aired prior to the series’ end. “Really Big Shrimp” gathered viewers that count up to 7.8 million, making the 1-hour long episode as Nickelodeon’s most watched television event before being broken by iCarly: iGo to Japan in 2008. His performance in Drake and Josh earned him 10 Kids Choice Awards (7 overseas and 3 in America).
Bell starred in the spoof film Superhero Movie on March 28, 2008 and recorded the film’s theme song in the next month with co-star Sara Paxton. The film also awarded Bell with the Surfboard Award in the 2008 Teen Choice Awards. He also provided voices to two animated films namely Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare and The Nutty Professor on September 09, 2008 and November 25, 2008 respectively. In December 2008, Universal Motown released Drake Bell In Concert, a video album packed with performances during Bell’s Mexican tour last October. It failed to land in any U.S. charts but was successful in the Mexican charts at number 81.
Also in December 2008, Nickelodeon released Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh and was hailed as the third television movie with the most viewers, ranking behind two Disney Channel television movies.
In 2009 Bell contributed to the non-profit organization Thirst Project which aims to provide potable water in needed areas. His work with the project earned him a Pioneering Spirit Award in 2010, regarded as the highest honor the project can bestow to others. Bell was also recruited to be the campaign’s ‘face’ by its founder Seth Maxwell.
Bell appeared as Drake Parker in the “iBloop” episode of Nickelodeon’s sitcom iCarly in 2010, as himself in the documentary 7 Secrets with Miranda Cosgrove and in the short film I Owe My Life To Corbin Bleu. In 2011 he starred as Timmy Turner in A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, the live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s animated show The Fairly Oddparents, and its two future sequels.
The Downfall of Drake Bell – Where He Went
His first extended play (EP) was released on June 28, 2011 entitled A Reminder. It only contained four songs but still received acclaim. John Fields, one of the EP’s producers, filed a lawsuit in the same year wherein he claimed that Bell agreed to pay for all nine songs that he produced. However, Bell only paid for five and still owed the producer the remaining four songs. Bell’s failure to respond to the lawsuit ended with the judge issuing default judgment.
He provided voice-over for Spider-Man in numerous animated series and video games that featured the web slinger.
On July 03, 2012, a hacker managed to access Bell’s Twitter account and posted malicious tweets aimed at Katy Perry. Bell got hold of his account, deleted the tweets, and posted two new tweets that bash Justin Bieber. His rude comments earned him the ire of Bieber fans (also called Beliebers) and even received death threats. Bieber responded to Bell’s tweets by saying that he was once a fan of Drake and Josh. Bell’s fans, named Drakesters, rallied and the two groups of fans waged war in Twitter. The Beliebers even posted hateful tweets aimed at Thirst Project.
Bell continued to make fun of Bieber, targeting the young singer’s height, wardrobe, and DUI arrest that lasted up to 2014.
During the early months of 2014 Bell filed for bankruptcy and had his $2 million Los Feliz house, bought last 2007, foreclosed.
On April 22, 2014 Bell released his third album Ready, Steady, Go!. Like its predecessors the album was given positive reviews and found spots on the Billboard 200 (#182), Billboard Top Rock Albums (#50), and Billboard Top Independent Albums (#32). To support the album, Bell toured different high schools throughout America which started September 16 until October 22, 2014. Bell also described this album as a dream come true due to his collaboration with Brian Setzer, his guitar idol.
The feud with Bieber was stoked after the latter decided to visit the album’s release party, then tweeting (and then deleting) a photo showing that his sprinter van had more fans than Bell.
Bell responded by tweeting that he was sorry for not letting Bieber into the party, and at the same time he actively campaigned for Bieber’s deportation to Canada after the latter was arrested for drag racing in Florida. The petition gathered 300,000 signatures and was sent to the White House, but the administration did not respond favorably.
During the Capital Twitter Awards in 2014, the Twitter spar earned Bell with a nomination for the BiggestTwitter Feud.
At the start of the year 2015, Bell tweeted a picture of his wrist with a surgical scar accompanied by a caption that says he might not be able to play the guitar again. The injury stemmed in a birthday party at his brother’s house back in November where Bell dove into a shallow pool and hit his wrist at the bottom which was made of concrete. Doctors informed him regarding his inability to play the instrument anymore.
Justin Bieber also posted an injury of his own (a broken foot) in January. Bell tweeted well wishes to Bieber, seemingly ending their long-term feud.
What Drake Bell Is Doing Now – Recent Updates
An interview on February revealed that Bell significantly recovered from his injury. A Q&A session on Facebook also revealed that Bell can again play the guitar, but not as good as he used to. He didn’t let it stop him from touring and performing, with the most recent performance in the Rockin for Veterans Wishes Benefit Concert held at St. Charles, Illinois on August 29, 2015.
Bell performed on April 28, 2015 at the Rockin A Cure, for Cystic Fibrosis charity event held at the Strawberry Bowl Amphitheater in Colonia Manzanilla, California.
With Miranda Cosgrove, Bell starred in the direct-to-DVD animated film A Mouse Tale released on February 10, 2015. He also starred as The Pop Star in the horror-comedy film L.A. Slasher released on June 26, 2015. Four days later, the English dub of the Chinese animated film The Frog Kingdom was released with Bell as the Announcer.
He has roles in two films and one television movie that are currently in production namely Where The Bad Kids Go, Cozmo’s, and Bluer Than the Sky.