Raunchy (instrumental)

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Raunchy Bill Justis.png
US single
Single by Bill Justis
from the album Cloud 9
B-side"The Midnite Man"
ReleasedSeptember 23, 1957 (1957-09-23)
Format7" single
GenreRock and roll
LabelPhillips International
Songwriter(s)Bill Justis, Sidney Manker
Producer(s)Sam Phillips
Bill Justis singles chronology
"Raunchy" / "The Midnite Man"
"Bop Train" / "String of Pearls - Cha Hot Cha"
Audio sample

"Raunchy" is an instrumental by the American rock and roll artist Bill Justis, co-written by Sidney Manker and produced by Sam Phillips.[1] From the album Cloud 9, the tune was released as a single in September 23, 1957 from the record label Phillips International Records, a sub-label of Sun Records.[2]


"Raunchy" is one of first rock songs to use the "twangy" lead-guitar effect, which was later developed by others and became a staple for several years following its appearance.[3]

In 1958 a then fourteen-year-old George Harrison performed it for John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the top deck of a bus in Liverpool, and was so note-perfect Lennon decided to let him into his band, the Quarrymen, which later became the Beatles, despite earlier reservations about Harrison's age.[4][5]

Other versions[edit]

In 1962, Justis recorded another rendition of the tune, in stereo and with considerably different guitar, for his album Bill Justis Plays 12 More Big Instrumental Hits.[6] He recorded it once more in 1969, for his album Raunchy & Other Great Instrumentals.

Competing with Justis' release in 1957 were renditions by Billy Vaughn and Ernie Freeman.[7][8] Freeman's version was his biggest solo success, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957, #1 on the R&B singles chart, and #11 on the Country singles chart in 1958.[9]

Justis' version charted in the UK in 1958 at #11, beating an interpretation by Ken Mackintosh which charted at #23.[10]

Soon after the hit, guitarist Duane Eddy and producer Lee Hazlewood took it upon themselves to develop that style to an ultimate degree. They greatly enhanced the reverberation in their recordings, creating a far from light lead guitar sound. Eddy started with the big hit "Rebel Rouser" in 1958; he later made a recording of "Raunchy" for the RCA Records album Twangin' the Golden Hits in 1965.

The Jimmy Bowen Orchestra and Chorus released a version as the B-side to their 1967 single "It's Such a Pretty World Today".[11]

"Raunchy" has been recorded by many artists, including the Ventures, Bill Black, Tom and Jerry, Al Caiola, Ace Cannon, Billy Strange, Bill Smith Combo aka Tommy & the Tom Toms (Chess #1780), Santo & Johnny, and the Incredible Bongo Band.[citation needed]

Years later, while working on the Beatles Anthology project in 1994, the three surviving Beatles (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) played the tune during a jam session, it having been the song that landed George a spot in the early version of the group.[12]

Chart positions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bruce Pollock (18 March 2014). Rock Song Index: The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era. Routledge. p. 293. ISBN 978-1-135-46296-3.
  2. ^ Colin Escott; Martin Hawkins (1975). Catalyst: The Sun Records Story. Aquarius Books. p. 101.
  3. ^ Steven Otfinoski (1997). The Golden Age of Rock Instrumentals. Billboard Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-8230-7639-0.
  4. ^ Chris Ingham (2 November 2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles. Rough Guides Limited. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-84836-752-4.
  5. ^ Philip Norman (17 May 2011). Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation. Simon and Schuster. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7432-5378-9.
  6. ^ Bill Justis Plays 12 More Big Instrumental Hits (Telstar/Lonely Bull) at AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  7. ^ B. Lee Cooper; Wayne S. Haney (1999). Rock Music in American Popular Culture III: More Rock 'n' Roll Resources. Psychology Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-7890-0489-5.
  8. ^ Galen Gart (1989). First Pressings: 1957. Big Nickel Publications. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-936433-07-3.
  9. ^ a b c d Ernie Freeman - Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  10. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/singles-chart/19580207/7501/
  11. ^ "The Jimmy Bowen Orchestra and Chorus, "It's Such a Pretty World Today" Single Release". Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  12. ^ Kenneth Womack (30 June 2014). Beatles Encyclopedia, The: Everything Fab Four: Everything Fab Four. ABC-CLIO. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-313-39172-9.
  13. ^ a b c Bill Justis - Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2015.