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Bill Justis

Best known to most listeners for the aptly titled instrumental smash "Raunchy," Bill Justis was also a longtime linchpin of the Nashville recording community, working as a producer, musical director, and A&R man for labels including Sun and Mercury. Born October 14, 1927, in Birmingham, Alabama, he grew up in Memphis, studying music and English at Tulane University while playing trumpet in local jazz and dance bands. In 1957, the legendary Sam Phillips hired Justis to serve as the musical director for his Sun Records label. At 30, Justis was a good decade older than most of Sun's artists and had little interest in rock & roll until he learned just how lucrative the music had become. With guitarist Sid Manker, Justis composed a wild, primitive instrumental they dubbed "Backwoods"; Phillips renamed the tune "Raunchy," releasing it as a single in November 1957. Although Justis' honking tenor sax assumed center stage, what made "Raunchy" so unique was Manker's guitar; he forged the song's distinctive riff not from the traditional middle strings but from the bass strings, creating a cavernous, resonant sound further buffered by studio echo. The single proved Sun's best-selling instrumental release ever, staying in the pop Top 40 for 14 weeks.

Justis would nevertheless score only more chart hit, "College Man," which only went as high as number 42. He continued recording the occasional single (including "Flea Circus," penned by Steve Cropper), but by and large focused the remainder of his career on studio work, arranging sessions for Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. Justis also discovered Charlie Rich at Memphis night spot The Sharecropper Club and brought him to Sun in 1960, arranging Rich's first major hit, "Lonely Weekends." However, squabbles with Phillips prompted Justis to leave Sun soon after, and he formed his own label, the short-lived Play Me Records. After moving to Nashville and briefly reuniting with Rich at RCA, he landed with Mercury, which remained his home for the remainder of his career. In the years to follow, Justis would arrange records for everyone from Patsy Cline to Dean Martin to Tom Jones, also recording a series of instrumental LPs for Mercury's Smash subsidiary. In 1972 he scored his first film, Dear Dead Delilah. In 1977, he scored the smash Smokey and the Bandit, reuniting with star Burt Reynolds a year later for Hooper. Justis died of cancer on July 15, 1982. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 25 Great Original Oldies - Vol.4

1. Diana

2. It's My Party

3. Tequila

4. Rhythm Of The Rain

5. Everybody

6. Only You

7. Stand By Me

8. Earth Angel

9. Tiger

10. Just Walkin' In The Rain

11. Lonely Teenager

12. Hats Off To Larry

13. I'm Gonna Get Married

14. Up On The Roof

15. A Guy Is A Guy

16. Reet Petite

17. Paper Doll

18. Pretty Little Angel Eyes

19. Sealed With A Kiss

20. Hushabye

22. What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am)

23. Sea Cruise

24. My Prayer

25. The Way You Look Tonight

x

Track List: The Sun Records Story

Disc 1

1. Cool Down Mama

2. Boogie In The Park

3. Howlin' Tom Cat

4. Highway Man

5. Juiced

7. Tiger Man

8. Love My Baby

9. Come Back Baby

10. Cotton Crop Blues

11. I'm Gonna Murder My Baby

12. Time Has Made A Change

13. Red Hot

15. Dark Muddy Bottom

16. Hello, Hello Baby

17. Listen To Me, Baby

18. Boogie Blues

20. Gonna Dance All Night

21. Don't Believe

22. Defrost Your Heart

23. Sure To Fall

24. Fool Proof

26. Jump Right Out Of This Jukebox

27. You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven

28. Fool For Lovin' You

29. I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry

30. Come In Stranger

Disc 2

1. Rockin' Daddy

2. Crazy Arms

3. Mean Little Mama

4. Got Love If You Want It

5. Crawdad Song

6. Her Love Rubbed Off

7. Mad Man

8. Love My Baby

9. Miss Froggie

10. Pearly Lee

12. That Don't Move Me

14. Come On Little Mama

15. Rock With Me Baby

16. Fine Little Baby

17. Rockin' With My Baby

19. My Baby Don't Rock

20. Miss Pearl

21. That's Right

22. So Glad You're Mine

23. Willing And Ready

24. Shake Around

26. Judy

27. Good Rockin' Tonight

29. Tough, Tough, Tough

30. (Take Me From This) Garden Of Evil

31. Have Faith In My Love

Disc 3

2. Just Walkin' In The Rain

3. Bear Cat

4. Blue Suede Shoes

5. When It Rains It Pours

6. Mystery Train

7. Boppin' The Blues

8. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

9. Flyin' Saucer Rock 'n' Roll

10. I Walk The Line

11. Ooby Dooby

12. We Wanna Boogie

13. Dixie Fried

14. Great Balls Of Fire

15. Red Hot

16. Big River

17. Rock 'n' Roll Ruby

18. Breathless

19. Honey Don't

20. Red Headed Woman

21. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

22. High School Confidential

23. Matchbox

24. Lonely Weekends

25. I'm Coming Home

26. Who Will The Next Fool Be?

27. What'd I Say

28. Guess Things Happen That Way

29. Raunchy

30. Mona Lisa

31. Whirlwind

Comments

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surfingmusic
Report as inappropriate
This is good but not that much
Report as inappropriate
Raunchy is one of Bill's best.,I remenber the 50s
Report as inappropriate
Great combo of sax & guitar
Report as inappropriate
I can't believe no one has left a comment about this classic. It had a unique sound and could really get your blood going, probably the reason our junior high band played it often at pep rallies. A real classic.

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