The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Billy Lee Riley Dead at 75
Viceroys, Prophets and Hillbilly Cats #8

Huge thanks to Testify for nudging me on this. I had seen that he passed but Testify sent me this photo which he took when Billy Lee Riley and others came to London's Barbican for the 'It Came from Memphis' season in 2005.

Associated Press announcement about his passing here.
Read Testify's post about Billy Lee Riley here.


Mike said...

The documentary Good Rockin' Tonight brings together a lot of Sun people. Billy Lee gets right in Sam Phillips' face at one point, accusing him of boosting others over him. Sam didn't deny it, exactly, but did indicate he had only so much cash and had to boost the record that had the biggest chance at success. More here:

Mr. Lee said...

Dig my post about Riley's passing featuring a killer '60s clip of the man himself... Rest in peace, Billy Lee.

Tom Sutpen said...

I dug it; I dig it. Fantastic blog!

Mr. Lee said...

Thanks, Tom... Love your blog (have you linked up too).

swac said...

I first heard Red Hot as a cover on Beatles bootleg, they didn't nearly do it justice.

Riley's best records are far wilder than anything released these days. He was the genuine article.

Tom Sutpen said...

Ad . . . as occurred to me the other day . . . another Sun Records titan Jerry Lee has outlived.

There's something to be said for being touched by the angel of the bottomless pit, I guess