Boyd Byron Bennett (December 7, 1924 – June 2, 2002) was an American rockabilly songwriter and singer.
Bennett was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, United States, but attended high school in Tennessee and formed his first band there. He grew up in North Davidson, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. His family was musically oriented and talented. His grandfather taught members of churches within the community how to read music. He also taught Boyd by the age of four years how to read the notes in music, before Boyd could actually read song lyrics. Growing up during the Great Depression, Bennett did anything he could to make money. He sang in quartets and played guitar and sang outside of bars for extra funds. At the age of 16, however, his career was interrupted by World War II in which he served for four years; and in his free time perfected his playing of the guitar. During the early 1950s, Boyd Bennett and his Southlanders performed at local dances and on variety TV shows.
In 1952, while working at WAVE (TV), Boyd came up with the idea of a musical variety show called Boyd Bennett and His Space Buddies. For Foster Brooks, this was his first break in show business. The show was a take-off of the Gene Autry Show. Instead of singing cowboys, it was singing space cadets. The humour, music, and originality made the show a hit with local fans. The owner of the station was not so far-sighted and the show was cancelled after seven editions. The next couple of years they performed at numerous dances and shows in the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio area.
Boyd and his group played in the Rustic Ballroom in Jasper, Indiana on a regular basis for a number of years. Renamed as Boyd Bennett and His Rockets, they came to the attention of Syd Nathan, owner of King Records. They released a couple of country tracks, "Time" and "Hopeless Case". In 1955, Boyd created a new sound while playing the drums, during a number of recording sessions with such musicians as Earl Bostic, Bill Doggett, and Otis Williams and the Charms. He began to experiment with songs that would appeal to teenagers. Boyd and his band rented the King Record's studio to record "Poison Ivy", "You Upset Me Baby" and "Boogie at Midnight". When sales topped 100,000 copies, singles were then re-released under King Records. They then signed Boyd to a recording contract. In 1955, Boyd Bennett and His Rockets recorded "Seventeen."
It reached the Billboard chart in June and went to the number five by September. Boyd and the Rockets travelled across the nation, performing their hit. There were also several cover versions recorded that extended the release of the song. These included fellow chart efforts by the Fontane Sisters and Rusty Draper. Boyd and his band followed "Seventeen" with the "My Boy Flat Top" which reached the Top 40 for a number of months, although a lesser seller than their earlier effort. Boyd also worked as a disc jockey in 1955 in Louisville, Kentucky. In March 1956, Boyd's group released their cover version of "Blue Suede Shoes."
In 1959, Bennett left King Records and commenced a subsequent brief recording career with Mercury. Noting that he was drifting away from a teenage audience, he left the music industry and built up his business interests, which included owning nightclubs and an air-conditioning parts manufacturer. In the 1970s and 1980s, Bennett had health issues with both lymphoma and pulmonary fibrosis. He retired in Dallas, although he made infrequent concert appearances, often with Ray Price.
In 1996, Boyd made his last public musical appearance in the old city of Jerusalem, Israel. He sang "Amazing Grace" with the worship leader of the Garden Tomb Centre. He also sang "The Our Father" at the church of the Nativity.
Although he had not been active as a musician for decades, he had taken a booking to appear at South East England's premier rock'n'roll/R&B dance weekender, Rhythm Riot, in November 2002. However, the grim reaper had other ideas, and Boyd Bennett died on 2 June of that year from a lung ailment. Just before he died Bennett was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.(Info mainly from Wikipedia)