Sunday, October 5, 2014

Billy Lee Riley was born this day in 1933

Rockabilly artist Billy Lee Riley was born this day in 1933.  He's most widely known for some of his early Sun Records singles from 1957 like "Red Hot", "Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll" (which featured Jerry Lee Lewis on backing piano), etc.  In the early 60's he became a studio musician again (after playing on several other fellow Sun artist singles in the 50's like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and others).  While in LA, he worked with Dean Martin, The Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr. and others.  He also recorded under other aliases like Lightnin' Leon, Skip Wiley, Darren Lee and in bands like The Megatons, The Spitfires, The Rockin' Stockins and more.

He released several instrumental albums featuring his amazing Harmonica skills like Harmonica And The Blues and Harmonica Beatlemania.  He retired from music in 1973 but decided to join in a "Memphis In May" celebration and continued playing music until the time of his death in 2009.  Bob Dylan claims Riley as one of his idols and countless of others have covered his songs including Robert Gordon (with Link Wray) and Brian Setzer.

Here's some select videos of Billy along with covers from those he influenced....

Billy Lee Riley- "Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll" and "Trouble Bound" (with Billy Burnette and Lee Rocker in the band)

Brian Setzer- "Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll"

Billy Lee Riley- "Red Hot"

Robert Gordon & Link Wray- "Red Hot"