Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Billy Lee Riley, R. I. P.

Billy Lee Riley, 75, Dies; Rockabilly Singer Also Multi-Instrumentalist - washingtonpost.com: "Billy Lee Riley, 75, the growling rockabilly singer and multi-instrumentalist who accompanied Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and others in recording sessions in the 1950s, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Jonesboro, Ark. He had colon cancer.

Mr. Riley recorded for the Memphis-based record label Sun Records, which discovered and nurtured such talents as Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The Sun label originated a style known as rockabilly, a hybrid of country music and jump rhythm-and-blues. While not as well-known as others on the label, Mr. Riley was cited by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen as among their favorite performers from that era.

He was best known for the 1957 regional hits 'Flying Saucers Rock'n'Roll' -- which inspired the name for his backup band, the Little Green Men -- and 'Red Hot,' both with Lewis on piano. The songs were later recorded by rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, who closely copied Mr. Riley's arrangements and got the song 'Red Hot' onto the national charts in 1978."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp. Riley's "Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll" inspired a great SF story of the same name by Howard Waldrop.

Rock with Me Baby - Billy Lee Riley


Anonymous said...

I was just going to send this to you.

And I forgot, but yesterday was P. D. James's 89th birthday.


Bill Crider said...

I didn't read the birthdays in the paper yesterday. I gotta do better.