Monday, December 03, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Bill Justis

Artist:Bill Justis
Album:Sun's Greatest Hits

Most of the time, Bill Justis was a sax player and arranger for many of the records produced at Sun Records in Memphis in the 50s. But he stepped into the spotlight for the 1957 top five hit Raunchy. Supposedly it was the first instrumental Rock 'N' Roll hit single. I don't know about that but the song was a big influence. He was born Oct. 14, 1926 in Birmingham, AL and grew up in Memphis. Justis studied music at Tulane University in New Orleans and played sax in local clubs. He moved back to Memphis in 1954 and was hired as a studio musician and arranger by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. He arranged music for Sun artists like Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. Along with guitarist Sid Manker, Justis recorded an instrumental called Backwoods. Phillips changed the title to Raunchy. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957. And pianist Ernie Freeman's version reached #5. Manker's guitar was a huge influence on Duane Eddy. Eddy built his whole career on the Raunchy guitar riff. Also, legend has it that in 1958, George Harrison played Raunchy for John Lennon and that got him into The Quarrymen. And we all know what happened to those guys. Justis never had another big hit. But he is credited with discovering Charlie Rich in 1960. Justis left Sun in 1961 and moved to Nashville. He landed at Mercury Nashville and produced and arranged many recordings there. He occasionally recorded solo albums for Mercury's Smash label. He also managed Ronny & The Daytonas. In the 70s, he wrote the music for the films Smokey & The Bandit and Hooper. Bill Justis died of cancer July 15, 1982 at age 55. You can get Raunchy on this Sun Records various artists budget comp. Here's a video for Raunchy by Bill Justis.

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