Sun Sounds: “Flyin’ Saucers Rock And Roll”- Billy Lee Riley. Billy Lee Riley was born in Arkansas the son of a sharecropper. After five years in the army he first recorded in Memphis before catching the attention of Sam Phillips who convinced him to record for Sun. “Flyin’ Saucers Rock And Roll” was his first hit in the fall of 1956. A rockabilly pioneer he would go on to a career as singer-songwriter and record producer. A young Bob Dylan was a fan- and years later in the early 90’s he would be re-discovered by Dylan who said this about Riley in 2015. Billy Lee Riley died at the age of 75 in 2009 of cancer.
He was a true original. He did it all: He played, he sang, he wrote. He would have been a bigger star but Jerry Lee came along. And you know what happens when someone like that comes along. You just don’t stand a chance. So Billy became what is known in the industry—a condescending term—as a one-hit wonder. But sometimes, just sometimes, once in a while, a one-hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star who’s got 20 or 30 hits behind him. And Billy’s hit song was called “Red Hot,” and it was red hot. It could blast you out of your skull and make you feel happy about it. Change your life.