of the 50s, 60s and beyond....

Billy Strange

When I was 15 - way back when... - there was a radio show for teenies by the name of “Hootenanny” As an introductory song some GOOD sounding 12-string guitar was played. For many  years we did not know who had been behind the music  until the announcer mentioned the name : BILLY STRANGE.. We immediately bought the album - and still can’t get enough of it - even today. Billy has started his own homepage in August 2002 ! In his new forum I mentioned the story about that song by the name of WABASH CANNONBALL - and here is what he answered ( September 2002 ):

“Dear Heinz,    You make me very happy with your new(s) of my version of “Wabash Cannonball" being one of  your radio favorites for so long a time. It pleases me that you would remember me after all this time.           Sincerely,             Billy Strange “

Strange was a top L.A. session guitarist in the 1960s, and also worked as an arranger for Nancy Sinatra and Dean Martin (he also wrote a hit for Chubby Checker,  "Limbo Rock"). He also released instrumental recordings that gave a folk-country-easy listening treatment to country, folk, and pop tunes. Strange's style, with its dextrous, rich, tone, virtuosic picking, and easy-on-the-ear arrangements, has been aptly dubbed "loungeabilly" -- roots music for those who need to ease into (or want to totally avoid) the real thing.

During the 1960s Billy offered fluid, crisp instrumental interpretations of a mixed bag of folk and pop tunes, including not only "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and "Green, Green," but also compositions by Lee Hazlewood, Jimmy Bond, and Rod McKuen. It's like a  marriage of bluegrass picking with pop arrangements.

 His solo cover recordings of such things as The James Bond Theme, 007, Goldfinger, The Munsters Theme, Batman, Have Gun Will Travel and many others were chart favorites that blur together and are too numerous to list here.

He could play with Willie Nelson or Nat King Cole, or Bob Wills or Dean Martin, or Henry Mancini and Les Brown.
Those years also began an association with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, playing on more hits than he even remembers, and with Jan and Dean and The Monkees and dozens of other similar groups, and
for two years as a ghost player for a popular group called
The Ventures, and literally hundreds more.

When Elvis came to town it was Billy he wanted as a player, arranger or session leader. Billy wrote and scored movies and TV Specials for Elvis and co-wrote several of Elvis hit records.

His solo cover recordings of such things as The James Bond Theme, 007, Goldfinger, The Munsters Theme, Batman, Have Gun Will Travel and many others were chart favorites that blur together and are too numerous to list here.

You'll need RealAudio Player to play the sound clips

My personal top 5

1

WABASH CANNONBALL

2

Green,Green

3

WILDWOOD FLOWER

4

Silver Threads and Golden Needles

5

Cotton Fields

4.Silver Threads and Golden Needles

Such a noble tune - .there must be some vocal versions out there, too...

5.Cotton Fields

Another absolute classic song - sung by many artists. Here we have a pure instrumental - great in itself.

1. WABASH CANNONBALL

This is the instrumental they used to play on a Frankfurt, Germany radio station for many years.  You get the full 12-string-guitar sound - and I love it...

2.GREEN GREEN

A true folk song - and the instrumental version has its charm as well..

3.WILDWOOD FLOWER

What a classic song ! There must be all kinds of versions out there - great for instrumentalists. I llike this one very much - even though Duane Eddy’s version still is unsurpassed...

Links:

Billy Strange’s New Homepage

P.S. Make sure you check the forum - most interesting to read. It casts a light on those days, when music was at its best....