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08/02/2010

One year ago: Billy Lee Riley

August 2, 2010 |  6:00 am

Riley Stardom eluded Billy Lee Riley.

Riley, who died a year ago at 75, is best remembered for his 1957 singles"Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll" and "Red Hot." He was part of the legendary Sun Records label, and his band provided backup for such artists as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee, Lewis and others.

"My band was the Sun sound," Riley told the Associated Press in 1984. "We've never gotten credit for that, but it's a fact. I was doing what Elvis was doing before Elvis did it: mixing blues and hillbilly, putting a laid-back, funky beat to hillbilly music."

Riley's path was blocked, he maintained, by Sun Records chief Sam Phillips choosing to promote artists such as Lewis.

His obituary appeared in The Times on Aug. 4, 2009.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Billy Lee Riley in 1956. Credit: Charlie Gillett/Redferns

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