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

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