Al Casey (rock guitarist)

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Al Casey
Birth nameAlvin Wayne Casey
Born(1936-10-26)October 26, 1936
Long Beach, California, United States
DiedSeptember 17, 2006(2006-09-17) (aged 69)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Associated acts

Alvin Wayne Casey (October 26, 1936 – September 17, 2006) was an American guitarist. He was mainly noted for his work as a session musician, but also released his own records and scored three Billboard Hot 100 hits in the United States. His contribution to the rockabilly genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life[edit]

Casey was born in Long Beach, California and moved to Phoenix, Arizona when he was two years old. His father played the guitar and tried to teach six-year-old Casey to play, but when he realized his son's fingers were too small, he gave him a ukulele instead. At the age of eight, Casey switched to the steel guitar and began taking formal music lessons. By the time he was 14, he was playing the steel guitar for various clubs in Phoenix, and in his later teens he performed five to six nights a week. When Casey was 20 he became serious about playing a traditional guitar.[2][3]


"The Fool"[edit]

In his teens, Casey joined a local group, the Sunset Riders, and worked with vocalist Jody Reynolds. Around 1956, Casey crossed paths with Lee Hazlewood, a Coolidge, Arizona radio DJ who was looking for a singer to record his song, "The Fool". Casey suggested his schoolmate and friend Sanford Clark for the lead vocals. Casey played guitar for the recording and suggested a guitar riff which he had taken from Howlin' Wolf's song "Smokestack Lightnin". "The Fool" became a national hit and reached number No. 9 on the Billboard Top 10 pop charts. It also put the Phoenix music scene in the national spotlight. Due to the song's success, Casey went on a week long rockabilly tour with Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, and Sonny James, traveling the country in Sanford Clark's Ford Mercury.[4]

Duane Eddy and the Rebels[edit]

In 1955, Casey met Duane Eddy and joined his band, Duane Eddy and the Rebels. For five years, Casey worked on and off with Eddy's band and performed for the Alan Freed and Dick Clark shows. Casey was also part of the backup for other Eddy recordings, playing bass, piano, and rhythm guitar. Casey wrote one of Eddy's earliest hits, "Ramrod" (1958), and when Eddy performed the song on American Bandstand he was flooded with requests for the single. "Ramrod" peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 17 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1958. Casey also co-wrote another Eddy hit, "Forty Miles of Bad Road", which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Hot 100 on July 27, 1959.[5] In 1958 he also played guitar on Jody Reynolds's hit song "Endless Sleep".

Al Casey Combo[edit]

In the early 1960s, Casey began working with his own ensemble, the Al Casey Combo. With this group he scored three instrumental hits: "Cookin" (U.S. No. 92, 1962),[6] "Jivin' Around" (peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 22 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop charts in 1962),[7] and "Surfin' Hootenanny" (U.S. #48, 1963).[8] The Surfin' Hootenanny album featured Casey mimicking the styles of Dick Dale, the Ventures, and Duane Eddy. Drummer Hal Blaine and organist Leon Russell played on many of these recordings; the backup vocal group, named the K-C-Ettes, were in fact the Blossoms. Casey recorded many of his albums with Stacy Records, which folded in 1964.[4]

Studio session musician[edit]

In 1958, The Arizona Republic noted that Casey performed on 95% of recording sessions held in Phoenix that year.[9] In 1964, he gave up touring and began to play a variety of music styles for studio sessions. In 1965, Casey moved to Los Angeles and became part of the group of session musicians which became known as the Wrecking Crew. He worked with this group for 18 years playing a variety of music styles including jazz, country, rock, and pop.[3] As a member of the Wrecking Crew, he worked for artists such as the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, the Association, the Monkees, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Simon & Garfunkel, the 5th Dimension, Harry Nilsson, the Partridge Family, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra. During this time, Casey also worked for three years as a member of the band on The Dean Martin Show.[10]

Guitar teacher and music store owner[edit]

In the late 1960s Casey owned a music store in Hollywood called Al Casey's Music Room.[3]

In 1983 he moved back to Phoenix where he taught guitar lessons at Ziggie's Music and performed for occasional shows.

Later recordings and legacy[edit]

Casey continued recording into the 1990s, including an LP release, Sidewinder, for Bear Family Records. In 2001, he played guitar, dobro, mandolin, and banjo on Al Beasley's A Rainbow in the Clouds album, recorded live at the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was a featured guitarist on the Exotic Guitars series of albums on the Ranwood Records label.[4]

In 2005, Casey was inducted into the Arizona Music Hall of Fame.[11][10] He was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.[12]

Casey died on September 17, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona.[13]

In 2008, Casey, along with many of his fellow studio musicians, was featured in the documentary film The Wrecking Crew.

Independent Record label, Fervor Records, has placed many of his recordings in TV and film.


Artist Album Format Record Label CAT# Release Date
Al Casey Nola b/w Shine on Harvest Moon Old Timer Records S8151 1955
If I Told You (Wouldn't Know It All By Myself) b/w The Pink Panther MCI 45-1004 1956
Guitar Man b/w Come What May Dot Records 45-15563 1957
(Got The) Teen-Age Blues b/w The Adventures of Frank N. Stein Highland M-2033 1958
Surfin' Hootenanny LP, Album, Mono Barry B-319 (C) 1963
LP Stacy Records STM 100-1
LP, Mono Stacy Records STM 100-1
LP, Album Troubadour TRL E 1232
7" Discostar 1066
7" CNR A 9028
7", Single CBS 1237
LP, Album, RE, Unofficial, Pac, Mono Stacy Records STS-100 Unknown
CD, Album Sundazed Music SC 6114 1996
LP, Album, RE, Red, Gre Sundazed Music LP 5026
LP, Album, Gre, Mono Sundazed Music LP 5531 2016
Surfin' Hootenanny/Easy Pickin'/ Doin' It/ Monte Carlo 7", EP Philips 434818 BE 1963
Sidewinder CD, Album Bear Family Records BCD 15889 AH 1995
Juice/A Fool's Blues 7" Dot Records 45 15524 1956
Willa Mae/She's Gotta Shake 7", Single Liberty F-55117 1957
Come What May 7" Dot Records 45-15563 1957
The Stinger/Keep Talking 7", Single, Promo United Artists Records UA 158 1959
Guitars, Guitars, Guitars/The Hearse 7", Single CBS 1304 Unknown
Jivin' Around CD, Comp Ace CDCHD 612 1995
Surfin' Hootenanny CD, Comp, RE Stacy Records STS 100 1995
A Man For All Sessions CD, Comp Bear Family Records BCD16579 AH 2001
Al Casey Combo Jivin' Around/Doin' the Shotish 7', Single Barry B-3124X 1962
7" Stacy Records 936
Cookin'/Hotfoot 7", Single Stacy Records 925 X 1962
Cookin' 7", Single Barry B-3109X 1962
Laughin'/ Chicken Feathers 7", Single, Promo Stacy Records 950 1962
Doin' It/ Monte Carlo 7", Single, Promo Stacy Records 956 1963
Indian Love Call/Full House 7", Single Stacy Records 961 1963
Al Casey with the K-C Ettes Guitars, Guitars, Guitars/Surfin' Blues (Part 1) 7", Single, Promo Stacy Records 964 1963
7", Single Barry B-3218X 1963
Surfin' Hootenanny/Easy Pickin' 7" Discostar 1066 1963
7" CNR A 9028 1963
7", Single CBS 1237 1963
7", Single, Red, Promo Stacy Records 962 1963
7", Single Barry B-3196X 1963
7", Single W&G WG-S-1645 1963
7", Single Pye International 7N.25215 1963
Al Casey With the K-C Elites/Al Casey Combo What Are We Gonna Do in '64?/Cookin' 7", Single Stacy Records 971 1964
Chet Baker (with Al Casey) Blood, Chet, and Tears Verve Records 1970
Duane Eddy and His Rockabillies Featuring Al Casey The Ford Single 7" Sleazy Records SR52 2013
Don Cole, Al Casey Snake-Eyed Mama/Kiss of Love 7", Single RPM Records 45x502 Unknown
Lee Hazlewood & Al Casey Combo Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!! And Me CD, Album Smells Like Records SLR 031 1999
Various Almost Big Hits of 1962, Vol. 8 (Original Recordings) Six Week Smile 2013
Various Mid-Century Sounds: Deep Cuts From the Desert (Vol. 1) CD, Vinyl, LP, Whi + LP, Comp, Bla Fervor Records FVRLP001 2017
Various Amazing Hits of the Transistor Era Vol. 1 12xFile, MP3, Album. 256 kbps Fervor Records 2007
Various Amazing Hits of the Transistor Era Vol. 2 13xFile, MP3, Compilation, 256 kbps Fervor Records 2007


Tv and Film[edit]

Artist Song Title Show Title Media Network Episode Air Date
Al Casey "If I Told You" NCIS Los Angeles TV CBS 200 11/19/2017
Al Casey Combo "Cookin'" 30 for 30 TV ESPN 9/1/2014
12 Monkeys TV SyFy 210 6/20/2016
Stranger Things SVOD Nettlix 203 10/27/2017
"Laughin'" The Astronaut Wives Club TV ABC 101 6/18/2015
"Doin' It" The Playboy Club TV NBC 104 10/2011


  1. ^ Dixon, John P. (March 1995). "Al Casey Biography". Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  2. ^ Samson, Larry (July 18, 1984). "Al Casey: When Rock Was Young". Arizona Republic. p. 188.
  3. ^ a b c Garcia, Gilbert (1997-11-20). "Mighty Casey". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  4. ^ a b c "Al Casey". The Independent. 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  5. ^ "Duane Eddy Forty Miles Of Bad Road Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  6. ^ "Al Casey Combo Cookin' Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  7. ^ "Al Casey Combo Jivin' Around Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  8. ^ "Al Casey". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  9. ^ "This Casey Scored a Hit - On Guitar". The Arizona Republic. June 1, 1958. p. 36.
  10. ^ a b Bommersbach, Jana (April 11, 2005). "'05 Honorees Made Mark in Music, Writing, TV, Film, Radio". Arizona Republic. p. 79.
  11. ^ "Al Casey - Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall Of Fame". Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall Of Fame. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  12. ^ "Rockabilly Hall of Fame: Al Casey". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  13. ^ "Al Casey's Obituary on The Arizona Republic". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  14. ^ "Al Casey (2)". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  15. ^ "Al Casey Combo". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-02-05.

External links[edit]