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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Bill Black born 17 September 1926

William Patton "Bill" Black, Jr. (September 17, 1926 – October 21, 1965) was an American musician who is noted as one of the pioneers of rockabilly music. Black was the bassist in Elvis Presley's early trio and the leader of Bill Black's Combo. 

Bill Black had two distinct phases of his career in which he made a notable mark on early rock & roll music: first as the rockabilly bass player for Elvis Presley and then as a bandleader of Bill Black's Combo, which scored numerous instrumental hits in the early '60s. Such is the way of the world that his most artistically important contributions, as one-third of the rockabilly trio that Elvis Presley fronted at the beginning of his career, brought him much less commercial reward than the far less remarkable hit records under his own name. 

Bill was born in 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee, the oldest of nine children of a motorman for the Memphis Street Railway. His father played popular songs on the banjo and fiddle to entertain the family. Black learned to play music at the age of 14 on an instrument made by his father—a cigar box with a board nailed to it and strings attached. At the age of sixteen, Black was performing "honky-tonk" music on acoustic guitar in local bars.  

During World War II, Black was stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Lee in Virginia. While in the Army, he met Evelyn, who played guitar as the member of a musical family. They married in 1946 and returned to Memphis. Black worked at the Firestone plant. 

Black began playing the upright bass fiddle. He modelled his "slap bass" technique after one of his idols, Fred Maddox of Maddox Brothers and Rose. Black also developed a "stage clown" persona in the same way that Maddox entertained audiences. Black performed as an exaggerated hillbilly with blacked-out teeth, straw hat and overalls. According to his son, Black said his goal was always to give his audience "a few moments of entertainment and maybe a little bit of humour that'll tickle 'em for a while." 
In 1952, Black began playing club and radio shows with guitarist Scotty Moore. Along with two other guitarists and a fiddler, they performed country music tunes by Hank Williams and Red Foley in Doug Poindexter's band, the Starlight Wranglers. Black and Moore also played in a band with Paul Burlison, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette on steel guitar, and a drummer. 

Black first recorded for Sun Records in early 1954 as a member of a country band, Doug Poindexter and the Starlite Wranglers, who also included guitarist Scotty Moore. That group issued just one single for Sun, but that was enough to make the talents of Black and Moore known to Sun head Sam Phillips, who put the pair together with Elvis Presley.

Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley and Bill Black - The Blue Moon Boys

Under the billing of Elvis Presley, Scotty, and Bill, they put out five records on Sun in 1954 and 1955, which are usually acknowledged as some of the finest rockabilly records ever done and Presley at his most youthfully uninhibited. Black was an important part of the early Presley sound with his slap stand-up bass and ebullient onstage manner.      
Black and Moore continued to work with Presley until 1958, leaving his band in large part due to disputes over financial terms. Black and Moore had taken one-quarter of the royalties at the outset of Presley's career, but even after Presley had rocketed to stardom with RCA starting in 1956, they were on a mere 200 dollars/week wage. Although Moore would eventually work with Presley again, Black never did, joining a Memphis group that evolved into Bill Black's Combo in 1959. Their instrumental "Smokie," released late that year, made the Top Ten. 

Bill Black's Combo stuck to the formula of "Smokie" for many of their subsequent singles: a basic shuffle beat, simple bluesy R&B riffs, and some rinky-dink organ and smoky saxophone lines on top. They weren't too imaginative, but they were quite successful, placing eight singles in the Top 40 between 1959 and 1962, including "White Silver Sands," "Josephine," "Don't Be Cruel," "Blue Tango," and "Hearts of Stone." 
Their sales were greatly boosted by the suitability of their instrumental rock for background music at bars, clubs, and diners, with many of their discs placed in jukeboxes. They were still charting in the Top 100 as late as 1964, the year they also toured with the Beatles during the British stars' first nationwide American tour.
Black, sadly, developed a brain tumour and died in 1965, shortly before his 40th birthday and before rock historians had a chance to allow him to tell his side of the Elvis Presley story. (Info edited from All Music Guide & Wikipedia)

Here’s “Yogi”  from The 1961 Movie "Teenage Millionaire"



boppinbob said...

For Bill Blacks Combo - Greatest Hits & Tunes By Chuck Berry go here:

01. Bill Black Do It - Rat Now.mp3
02. Josephine.mp3
03. Rollin'.mp3
04. Hearts Of Stone.mp3
05. Yogi.mp3
06. White Silver Sands.mp3
07. Blue Tango.mp3
08. Willie.mp3
09. Ole Butter Milk Sky.mp3
10. Royal Blue.mp3
11. Don't Be Cruel.mp3
12. Smokie Pt. 2.mp3
13. School Days.mp3
14. Sweet Little Sixteen.mp3
15. Roll Over Beethoven.mp3
16. Maybellene.mp3
17. Carol.mp3
18. Little Queenie.mp3
19. Brown-Eyed Handsome Man.mp3
20. Nadine.mp3
21. Thirty Days.mp3
22. Johnny B. Goode.mp3
23. Reelin' And Rockin'.mp3
24. Memphis, Tennessee.mp3

Thanks to the Rockin’ Bandit for original link.

Koen Olie said...

Just noticed your Bill Blacks Combo post, looks cool, but unfortunately the zippy link has expired...
Any chance on a re-up?

boppinbob said...

Found it eventually on Rocking bandits blog. Re-Posted by me here:

Link available for a short time.

Koen Olie said...

Many thanks for this re-up!

Koen Olie said...

I checked the Rocking Bandit blog as well, but all his links are Rapidgator premium only, irritating....