1963 Boots Randolph – Yakety Sax
Homer Louis “Boots” Randolph III grew up in Kentucky and attended high school in Evansville, Indiana. His family had a band, and he began playing ukulele and trombone in the band at a young age. He switched to the saxophone after his father brought one home.
His father and grandfather shared his first name, and he somehow acquired the nickname “Boots.” He served in the United States Army Band after the end of World War II and played in various bands before moving to Nashville in the late fifties.
Boots became a member of the Nashville A-Team, a group of session musicians and singers based in Nashville that rivaled the Wrecking Crew. For over two decades, he and the other members appeared on countless recordings.
The 1958 hit song Yakety Yak by the Coasters featured a saxophone solo by King Curtis that is still familiar more than half a century later.
Boots Randolph and Spider Rich wrote Yakety Sax, an instrumental song that was a mild parody of the solo. Boots recorded and released the first version of the song in 1958 using the name Randy Randolph. The record didn’t chart, and a few years later, he released the same recording on an album using his own name. Still, nobody paid it much attention.
Monument Records was also based in Nashville, and in 1963, Boots recorded a new version of Yakety Sax for the label. They released it as a single, and the record reached #35 on the Hot 100. It would be his only visit to the top forty as a solo performer.
That might have been the end of the song, but in 1969, the Benny Hill Show began using it as their closing theme song. It also backed up countless closing chase scenes on the show, and, as a result, it is instantly recognizable to modern viewers.
Ronnie Aldrich recorded a new version of the song with a saxophone solo by Peter Hughes that was used on the show beginning in 1983.
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