Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bill Justis

Justis had two hits of his own, both in the late 50s on Phillips Records, and Phillips was not the European Company, it was Sam Phillips’ label, Sun’s corporate cousin. And so Justis belongs to that elite company that includes Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins etc.

But for most of his career he remained in the background: instrumentalist (sax), arranger, band leader etc. As fate would have it, he acted, as did Ernie Freeman, as arranger for a number of Dean Martin recordings. Those sides don’t have much in common with Raunchy. But I don’t suppose they would…

Bill Justis:

Raunchy – Said to be the first rock and roll instrumental, and maybe it was. Justis wrote the song, and his version went to number 2 in the fall of 1957. Competing versions by Ernie Freeman and Billy Vaughn went to number 4 and number 10, respectively. Freeman’s and Justis’ version are very similar, but I think Bill has the edge. The Ventures covered it, but they covered everything.

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