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  • Riley Billy Lee - Rocks (CD)


    1-CD Digipac with 40-page booklet, 35 tracks. Total playing time approx. 79 minutes.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Does the CD include recordings from the original masters?
    A: Yes, the original masters were used except on the Darron Lee recordings and the two tracks from the ’Harmonica & The Blues’ LP, Billy Lee Riley did for the ’Crown’ label. These four tracks were taken from the original 45 rpm records as there are no masters available.

    Q: I’ve heard that Billy Riley reocorded under several pseudonyms. Is that true?
    A: Yes, Billy Lee Riley recorded under different pseudonyms like Darron Lee, The Spitfires (together with Roland Janes), The Megatons, Skip Wiley, Lightnin’ Leon, and Good Jelly Bess! Some of the aliasses are included on the ’Rocks’ compilation.

    Q: Is it true that Billy Lee Riley recorded the ’Sun’ 45 ’Itchy’ b/w ’Thunderbird’ together  with Sonny Burgess?
    A: Yes, both tracks were recorded on July 22, 1958 and the record ’Sun 304′ was released under Sonny Burgess’ name.

    Q: Which artists has Billy Lee Riley worked with as a session musician?
    A: Billy Lee Riley worked as a session musician for artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Jack Earls, Charlie Rich, Johnny Cash, Ray Smith, Rick Nelson, Jimmy Bryant, The Everly Brothers,  Herb Alpert, Sammy Davis Jr., The Beach Boys, Pearl Bailey… just to name a few …. He was multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass and harmonica.

    Q: Are there any other CDs in the ’Rocks’ series you would recommend if I like the Billy Lee Riley one?
    A: Definitely! We would suggest to check on Jack Scott (BCD15841), Bob Luman (BCD16985), Jerry Lee Lewis (BCD16396), Narvel Felts (BCD17594), Gene Vincent (BCD17134), Eddie Cochran (BCD17136) and Johnny Burnette (BCD16992).

    •    Another milestone in our constantly extended ROCKS! CD series!
    •    ROCKS! contains the most rocking recordings of Billy Lee Riley, a musician who deserved it but who never made it into the first league of rock ’n’ roll!
    •    In addition to his best rockers recorded for SUN Records between 1956 and 1959, ’Billy Lee Riley ROCKS!’ presents recordings for several other labels.
    •    Further stops between 1959 and 1992 were Phillips Int’l , Brunswick, Checker (as The Megatons), Jaro (as The Spitfires; with Roland Janes), Mojo, Myrl (as Darron Lee), Crown, Home Of The Blues, Enterprise, Rita and Hightone, a.o.
    •    Linernotes by Bill Dahl.
    •    Elegant Digipac and extensive booklet.

    Billy Lee Riley was born October 5th, 1933 in Pocahontas, Arkansas. In 1955 he made his first recordings in Memphis and soon ended up with Sam Phillips and his SUN studio and label. In 1956 Trouble Bound was released with Rock With Me Baby as the flip. His first hit appeared in 1957 with Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll, a number that was to become one of the most famous Rockabilly songs ever. Since Phillips devoted all his energy to the careers of his established artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Riley left SUN Records in 1960 and founded his own label, Rita Records, along with guitarist Roland Janes. Two years later he moved to the West Coast and took on jobs as a session musician for the Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr. and Herb Alpert, among others.

    In 1965 Mercury recorded one of Riley’s concerts at the famous ’Whiskey a Go Go’ in L.A. and released the material on LP. A few years later Riley turned his back on the music industry and went back to Arkansas, where he set up a construction business. In the course of the Rock ’n’ Roll revival in the late 70’s Link Wray & Robert Gordon recorded Red Hot and Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll; finally Billy Lee Riley entered the stage for one show in Memphis in 1979 and then decided to work full time as a musician again.

    In 1992 he was rediscovered by one of his biggest fans, Bob Dylan. He continued to perform with his mix of rock ’n’ roll, blues and country, releasing records such as ’Hot Damn!’ for Capricorn, nominated for a Grammy in 1992. He did not fully recover from a tumble in 2005, but continued to play live until shortly before his death on August 2, 2009.

    Billy Lee Riley was a versatile musician, guitarist and harmonica player. We focus this issue of ROCKS! on his great rockers, not just from the early days of his more than 50-year career.

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