Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Boots Randolph, whose spirited saxophone and biggest solo hit "Yakety Sax" made him one of Nashville's top musicians, passed away Tuesday at the age of 80. Randolph suffered a cerebral hemorrhage June 25 and had been hospitalized in a coma.

Randolph played regularly in Nashville nightclubs for 30 years, becoming a tourist draw for the city much like Wayne Newton in Las Vegas and Al Hirt and Pete Fountain in New Orleans. He recorded more than 40 albums and spent 15 years touring with the Festival of Music, teaming with fellow instrumentalists Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer.

As a session musician, Randolph played on Elvis Presley's "Return To Sender", Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman", Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and "I'm Sorry", REO Speedwagon's "Little Queenie", Al Hirt's "Java" and other songs including ones by Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash.

Every time I hear "Yakety Sax," I think of "The Benny Hill Show." Hill used Randolph's signature tune as the theme to his show and throughout the show in place of dialogue. As the English would say, "Ripping good stuff!"