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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Billy Lee Riley...Rock With Me Baby...Original Sun Recordings


Billy Lee Riley (October 5, 1933 – August 2, 2009) was an American rockabilly musician, singer, record producer and songwriter. His most memorable recordings included "Rock With Me Baby" and "Red Hot".

Born in Pocahontas, Arkansas, the son of a sharecropper, Riley learned to play guitar from black farm workers. After 4 years in the Army, Riley first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955 before being lured to Sun Studios by Sam Phillips. He recorded "Trouble Bound" for Jack Clement and Slim Wallace. Sam Phillips obtained the rights and he released "Trouble Bound" b/w "Rock With Me Baby" on September 1, 1956 (Sun 245). His first hit was "Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll" b/w "I Want You Baby" released February 23, 1957 (Sun 260) with backing piano by Jerry Lee Lewis, after which he recorded "Red Hot" b/w "Pearly Lee" released September 30, 1957 (Sun 277).

"Red Hot" was showing a lot of promise as a big hit record, but Sam Phillips pulled the promotion and switched it to "Great Balls Of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis. Riley felt that his own chances of chart success were compromised by Phillips diverting resources to Lewis' career. He had other Sun recordings and they, likewise, did not have a lot of sales as his promotion had stopped. Like other artists such as Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson, Ray Harris and Warren Smith, chart success largely eluded him.







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