S is for Billy Strange

Billy Strange wrote music for Elvis Presley, arranged songs for Nancy Sinatra, and played on some Beach Boys recordings

When I was twelve or thirteen, I had a newspaper route, and thus, my own money, so I joined the Capitol Record Club. For those too young to remember, one would order on a postcard 12 albums for a penny, plus postage and handling; then I had to buy 10 or 12 more at full retail, plus P&H.

Ordering those first dozen albums, I got my first six Beatles albums, plus a Herman’s Hermit album. But what else should I select? One I picked at random was Goldfinger by Billy Strange. It turned out that it was an instrumental album featuring popular songs of the day, including the title tune [LISTEN] and a Beatles tune, I Feel Fine.

When I went to college in New Paltz (NY), I left most of my albums at my grandmother’s house back in Binghamton (NY); I had room in my dorm for only a couple dozen LPs, which were mostly my later Beatles and Beach Boys albums, the Band, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, and a few others. Then I went back to Binghamton one summer and discovered that some of my albums had been stolen. Unsurprisingly, my albums were arranged alphabetically, so I could tell at a glance that the albums were taken were artists starting with A, B, and S-Z, So I lost my early Beatles, Supremes, Temptations, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass…and Goldfinger by Billy Strange.

Listening to the Coverville podcast in the fall of 2012 about James Bond songs, I was pleased and startled to hear the last tune, The James Bond Theme, by Billy Strange. I hadn’t thought about him in decades.

As it turned out, William Everett Strange recorded a LOT of Bond music and more than a couple of Beatles covers. He wrote music for Elvis Presley, arranged songs for Nancy Sinatra, and played on some Beach Boys recordings, including the legendary Pet Sounds album. Unfortunately, Strange died on February 22, 2012, at the age of 81. In his honor, I went out and bought that Goldfinger album again; my, at 24 minutes, it is really short.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

27 thoughts on “S is for Billy Strange”

  1. The rhymeswithplagues lived for three years in Poughkeepsie, so we know where New Paltz is. The reason the rhymeswithplagues lived in Poughkeepsie is that Yours Truly was employed by IBM, so we know where Binghamton is. When I was a teen, I belonged to the Columbia record club. What I bought was mostly classical albums and Broadway-show-cast albums. I have always marched to a different drummer.

  2. My Lorne is a great music aficcionado, too, and has a collection of probably over 400 CDs and at least as many LPs including the Beatles and Michael Jackson’s famous ones!

    abcw team

  3. Love those oldies but goodies.
    It’s a shame your Special albums were Stolen, They were probably worth big bucks to someone.

  4. I just heard on Spotify Billy Strange with the song “House of the rising sun” and is a real gem!

  5. I was a member of the Columbia Record Club as a kid. It was great getting that first batch of records, but coming up with the money to buy the rest of the fulfillment quota was difficult. I couldn’t wait until I could cancel.

    An Arkies Musings

  6. I am pretty sure with those record choices you are within 5 years of me in age! I joined the Columbia record club with my Dad around 1970.71 we agreed to split the ones you have to buy later. I am sure it was some sort of lesson in money and negotiations in my dad’s mind but I was a happy camper!
    I wonder what the Columbia people thought packing up a shipment of Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Iron Butterfly, Marty Robbins and a Herb Alpert (for Mom!).

  7. We have a boxful of LP albums somewhere in storage. Since we don’t have a turntable anymore, I can’t remember where they are!

  8. Oh Roger, how interesting. I so enjoy your sharing your music with us. I wouldn’t have know the history of Billy Strange, and Goldfinger. Really a good read and lots of information to ponder.

  9. You’ve got me intrigued, that and the strap line of “the big sound of…” Memorable name. By coincidence there was a programme on the BBC recently about the composer John Barry and his Bond music so those guitar sounds were already in my head.

  10. I forgot about post card Record Clubs…I enjoyed every minute of carefully selecting my albums, receiving them, opening them, laying on my bedroom floor listening to them until I knew the lyrics of every single song! The 70’s were my album years, and I still have them and put them on the record player every now and then! Thanks for the memories:)

  11. My mother and father still has LPs and the player in our house. I used to play some of them when I was high school. Good memories. 🙂

  12. I remember some of those old record clubs, though I didn’t have an extensive collection. I did, however, have quite a stack of 45’s. All the favorites of my day.

  13. I remember those clubs as well. Most of the time tho, I was drawn to the book clubs!
    love the music too you shared. Thanks for that.

  14. My friend Steve wrote on my Facebook page re Billy Strange: He is the electric 12 guitarist on “Sloop John B,” recorded on a Sunday that was his custody day with his son and he had never played electric 12 and didn’t own one. Brian invited the son to the session as well, bought him the guitar and threw in an amp.

  15. Believe it or not, I got my copy of that Billy Strange LP from, yes, the Capitol Record Club. And yes, I bought a freshly-squeezed copy from the iTunes Store not so long ago.

    Fave track, though, is the amped-up version of Elmer Bernstein’s theme from Man with the Golden Arm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial