FRANNY BEECHER (By Shaun Mather)

Born Francis Beecher, 29 September 1921, Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Died 24 February 2014, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Franny Beecher is the fleet fingered guitarist who managed to add a sprinkling of magic to virtually every Bill Haley track he played on. Listen to the end of Rockin' Through the Rye or his solo on Saints Rock 'n' Roll for just a couple of examples. Once you get the drift, have a listen to Goofin' Around. Beecher bought his first guitar when he was eleven, having raised the $ 3 by moving old folks' garbage. He began his professional career as a guitarist in a country and western band called the "Buckaroo Rumblers" before honing his considerable jazz licks while playing for Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman. When he was introduced to Bill Haley by steel guitarist Billy Williamson, Franny recalls that he was "working six nights a week with The Larry Wayne Trio, playing everything from rumbas to polkas". Haley hired him for $175.00 a week, plus expenses. Haley and the Comets were on the verge of great things with "Shake, Rattle And Roll" and "Rock Around The Clock" already released although yet to break through nationally.

It was a mark of Beecher's prowess that he was (and still is) able to play Danny Cedrone's "Clock" solo note perfect. Once the group went massive around the world, Beecher was happy to tour with the band around the globe. He can be heard doing the quirky voice at the beginning of one of the groups biggest singles, "See You Later, Alligator". He remembers, "In two weeks the song shot straight up to the top of the charts. And it went gold. Bill gave me a $250.00 bonus for what I did on the record - that was a lot of money back in the fifties."

Franny was one of the mainstays of the group, staying until 1963, a few years after the real good times had ended. Another highlight of his sound was his work on the Lifeguards, "Everybody Out Of The Pool" where his guitar drives the instrumental along. He has been an ever present since the Comets reformed a few years ago and his guitar work, even in his 80's is amazing. A truly legendary figure in 1950's rock 'n' roll. Websites:

These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
Yahoo Group "Shakin' All Over". For comments or information
please contact Dik de Heer at

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