Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Bill Haley, native of Highland Park, Michigan, became one of the early stars and legends of Rock and Roll, but before then, his musical career was quite varied and concentrated on country music. The Saddlemen were the prelude to the Comets.
The band was formed in late 1949. The Saddlemen ceased to exist when they became the Comets in 1953.
The group was able to promote its act while working with radio station WPWA in Chester, Pennsylvania. Bill was employed by station and like many acts in those days, it was their work on the station that enabled them to reach the listening audiences to help augment their salaries with personal appearances in the listening area. One of their frequent venues for performances was a place called the Twin Bars in Glouchester, New Jersey.
Bill Haley was the leader of the band on stage and for billing purposes, but in reality it was a three way partnership between himself, John Grande and Billy Williamson.
The Saddlemen's recordings ranged from pure hillbilly ("Jukebox Cannonball"), to Hank Williams' copies ("Down Deep In My Heart", "Icy Heart") to hillbilly jive ("Sundown Boogie"), all the way to early rock and roll ("Rock The Joint").
Some background about members of the group:
Bill Haley (1925-1981)
In the 1940s, at one point, Bill Haley was awarded Indiana State Yodeling champion for his skill (of which he was taught through such artists as Elton Britt and Kenny Roberts of the Down Homers). Bill Haley mainly played rhythm guitar during performances, but was also known for playing the bass and the fiddle on stage.
Bill Haley didn't achieve his fame and fortune until the mid '50s when he went on to become the father of rock and roll. But through all the years of his life, he never did completely shake off and forget his country and hillbilly roots in music.
Billy Williamson (1925 -1996)
John Grande (1930 - )
Al Rex (1928? - )
Marshall Lytle (1933 - )
Marshall remained with the group until he left in 1955 to help form "The Jodimars". Marshall still tours with the Original Comets today, performing his antics with the bass with enthusiasm, as well as many vocals on the show.
Timeline & Trivia Notes
Credits & Sources