Tom Pereira on Boots Randolph

"It is with a very sad heart that I write this message to David. Boots Randolph, a man that I knew 20 years ago, died last week. I suppose that most people know this by now. It's not tragic the way he died nor is it even surprising, as he was 80. Whether you like his brand of country swing or think that it's not worth your time is really irrelevant. It's very personal thing to me because he helped me when I was a kid who needed some work and somebody to take me seriously. He did. The funny thing is that we were in totally different universes, not just worlds. He was the very definition of a popular saxophonist and I was trying to be more out that Archie Schepp. I don't know why but he helped me get work but he did. He helped me get work in a town (Nashville) that at the time (mid 80's) there wasn't much in the way of a jazz scene and I think I was holding down the so-called Out scene all by my self. Boots was all about sound. I think that's where we go each other. You could play all the crazy extensions or growl like a beast but it's about sound. He gave me some gigs at his nightclub in Printer’s Alley and talked to me about swing. He was really a large influence on me as a person, not just a player. I've been around many famous players - many of them very generous with their time and knowledge - but Boots was generous to me as a human being. I know that there are many players of my generation who think that Boots was a corny, jive player. That's fine to believe but it's just not true. Maybe you don't want to admit it but someplace, back when you were 10 years old watching Benny Hill when you were supposed to be in bed, you dug “Yakety Sax". And it helped make you into the musician you are today."

Boots Randolph, ‘Yakety Sax’ saxophonist

June 3, 1927 — July 3, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Boots Randolph, whose spirited saxophone playing on “Yakety Sax” endeared him to fans for years on Benny Hill’s television show, died Tuesday. He was 80.

Mr. Randolph suffered a cerebral hemorrhage June 25 and had been hospitalized in a coma.

Mr. Randolph played regularly in Nashville nightclubs for 30 years, becoming a tourist draw.

He recorded more than 40 albums and spent 15 years touring with the Festival of Music, teaming with guitarist Chet Atkins and pianist Floyd Cramer.

As a session musician, he played on Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree” and “I’m Sorry,” REO Speedwagon’s “Little Queenie,” Al Hirt’s “Java,” and songs by Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash.

In 1963, he had his biggest solo hit, “Yakety Sax,” which he co-wrote with guitarist James Rich.

“Yakety Sax” was the name of one of his gold albums and became the theme song for “The Benny Hill Show.”

He also was part of the Million Dollar Band on the TV show “Hee Haw.”

Mr. Randolph was born Homer Louis Randolph III in Paducah, Ky., and grew up in the rural community of Cadiz, Ky., where he learned to play music with his family’s band.

He said he did not know where or why he got the nickname “Boots,” although his Web site at the time of his death suggested it was to avoid confusion because he and his father shared the same first name.

Mr. Randolph began playing the ukulele and then the trombone, but switched to the tenor sax when his father unexpectedly brought one home.

He graduated from high school in Evansville, Ind., then joined the Army and became a member of the Army Band.

After his discharge, he played primarily jazz at nightclubs before landing a recording contract with RCA in Nashville in 1958 and working for recording sessions.

Mr. Randolph had his own nightclub in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley for 17 years, closing it in 1994 because of declining business and to spend more time with his family.

Survivors include his wife, a son, a daughter and four grandchildren.

Music Minus One Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, or Trumpet: Boots Randolph-When The Spirit Moves You

Music Minus One Tenor Sax, Alto Sax or Trumpet: Boots Randolph: Nashville Classics


The Dissonance said...

A Boots Ballad record, was my first jazz purchase. And although I moved on to Basie, et. al. I'll always remember Boots. Interestingly enough I had been channeling him for a number of months before his death. I had purchased his CD play along 'When the Spirit Moves You' and just couldn't put it down. I think my jazz posse got tired of hearing me working on 'Just a Closer Walk to Thee' during our warm ups.

Thanks for sharing!

MonksDream said...

It's funny how a lot of "jazz purists" distinguish between different types of playing. In my mind, when you hear someone like Joe Thomas, who, after the Fletcher Henderson Band, disbanded made maybe 2-3 Blues/Rock albums, a little before Louis Jordan, you sometimes end up hearing truly individual voices, from players not really interested in drawing all of these stylistic distinctions.

Boots Randolph, Earl Bostic, whoever the player in Booker T. & the MG-s, all had bad-assed sounds and could certainly play the shit out of their instruments. No Wuz.

cheers, Bill