© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
The onslaught of rock and roll and its impact on
the music scene in Memphis brought forth some strange new concerts. Few were stranger than Bill Justis and Sid Manker, and few less converted. Here it is, the record that put the fledging Phillips International label on the map. So popular was this disc in
1957 that it inspired cover versions by a host of artists including Ernie Freeman and Billy Vaughn.
At one point, Sam Phillips bought space in the trade papers beseeching
the industry to listen to all versions and decide which was the original. Sam was on quite a roll in his defense of "Raunchy". He described counterclaims against Bill Justis' version as "uncouth" and went on to talk about the need for originality. He underlined
the importance of never becoming "stereotyped and parasitic". Big words for a guy in the record business but he was right about one thing: PI 3519 was neither of those things.
In truth, the artist, Bill Justin, was far too hip (and technically skilled) for Sun. His hilarious between-takes exhortations to his fellow musicians are thankfully preserved on tape ("Come on, girls, let's get really bad now so we can sell some
records:). In countless interviews, Justis maintained that his technically flawed sax work on this record (which only adds to its zany charm) stemmed from being out of practice. It may have been a mild musical embarrassment to him, but it kept Sam 'n Sun on
center stage in the music business.
STUDIO SESSION FOR BILL JUSTIS & SID MANKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING
SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1957
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JUNE 5, 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL JUSTIS & JACK
There's no shortage of cliches in rock and roll, in fact one of the most well-rodden myths concerns "the million-seller that was just an afterthought". In the
case of "Raunchy" this was half-true. William Everette Justis was pushing thirty when he landed at Sun, an unlikely age for anyone to become a teenage idol. At the end of an uneventful vocal session, the Justis band worked on a riff, honing the results into
what would become "Raunchy". Bill Justis was about to be launched as a pop star.
01(1) – "RAUNCHY" - B.M.I. - 2:20
- William Everette Justis-Sid Manker
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 309 Master
Recorded: - June 5, 1957
Released: - September 23, 1957
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 78/45rpm standard
singles > PI 3519-A < mono
RAUNCHY / MIDNIGHT MAN
Other Sun releases: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 150805-3-7 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5
In 1958 a then fourteen-year-old George Harrison performed the song to John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the top deck of a bus, and was so note-perfect Lennon decided to let him into his band,
the Quarrymen, which later became the Beatles, despite earlier reservations about Harrison's age. In 1962, Bill Justis recorded another rendition of the song, in stereo and with considerably different guitar, for his album ''Bill Justis Plays 12 More Big Instrumental
Hits''. He recorded it once more in 1969, for his album ''Raunchy & Other Great Instrumentals''.
Competing with Justis' release in 1957 were renditions of the song,
by Billy Vaughn and Ernie Freeman. Freeman's version was his biggest solo success, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957, number 1 on the Rhythm And Blues singles chart and number 11 on the Country singles chart in 1958. Soon after the hit, guitarist
Duane Eddy and producer Lee Hazlewood took it upon themselves to develop that style to an ultimate degree. Far from a light lead guitar sound, they greatly enhanced the reverberation in their recordings. Eddy started with the big hit "Rebel Rouser" in 1958;
he later made a recording of "Raunchy" for the RCA Records album ''Twangin' The Golden Hits in 1965''. "Raunchy" has been recorded by many groups, including the Ventures, Bill Black, Tom and Jerry (guitarists), Al Caiola, Ace Cannon, Billy Strange, Bill Smith
Combo aka Tommy & the Tom Toms (Chess 1780), Santo and Johnny and the Incredible Bongo Band. Years later, while working on the Beatles Anthology project in 1994, the three surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, played ''Raunchy''
during a jam session.
RAUNCHY TOLD BY BILL JUSTIS - Sometime in 1957 Bill Justis started playing a song adapted from a traditional tune known as ''Backwoods'', re-named
for the 'now' phrase ''Raunchy''. He told Charlie Gillett, ''I'd been playing around Memphis with a territories-style jazz band. We were pretty loose. We'd give the people sixteen bars of melody, and then everybody in the band took off. We had one piece we
called ''Backwoods'', and every time we played it the crowd would really move around. So after we'd been doing it about two months, I fixed up a recording session with four jazzmen and four rock and roll players''.
''My alto sax man got ill just before the session, so I had to play the lead. I had to borrow his alto, because I only had a tenor. I paid for that (''Raunchy'') session myself, though; the musicians, the studio,
everything. It was my idea. On the ''Raunchy'' session I was out of shape on the sax and got an off-tone and I think that was what helped to sell it''.
Part of the charm
of Justis' version of "Raunchy" missing in all the cover versions was the off-tone of his saxophone. It was not wholly intentional: Justis had called in another sax player who had begged off, forcing Justis to play the lead part himself. He hadn't touched
the sax for a while, and his rusty chops accounted for the strange tone. Just what was "Raunchy"? Was it an uneasy truce between big band music and rockabilly? You know in the first four bars that you're in the presence of something. Sax man Vernon Drane recalled
to Colin Escott, "I
We modelled ourselves on Count Basie and Shortly Rogers. After Bill went to Sun, I came with him. I actually named 'Raunchy''. ''I said, 'That's the
raunchiest damn thing you've ever done. If you don't record it, you'll miss a million seller'. He gave me a hundred dollar bonus for naming it. The guitarist Sid Manker was really the guy that worked up that riff though. He was a crazy man, high on everything.
Hell of nice guy, though". Whatever its title, the overall concoction didn't have much precedent in 1950s popular music. Another hybrid is born at 706 Union.
01(2) – "RAUNCHY" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - William Everette Justis-Sid Manker
- Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 5, 1957
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-12-1 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING
YEARS - RAUNCHY
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-5 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS