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Sax player Boots Randolph dies; Nashville regular cut 40 albums
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Boots Randolph, a saxophone player best known for the 1963 hit “Yakety Sax,” died July 3 at a hospital eight days after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 80.
He was taken off a respirator earlier in the day, said Betty Hofer, a publicist and spokeswoman for the family.
As a session musician, he played on Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “I’m Sorry,” REO Speedwagon’s “Little Queenie,” Al Hirt’s “Java” and other songs, including ones by Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash.
He had his biggest solo hit with “Yakety Sax,” which he wrote.
“ ’Yakety Sax’ will be my trademark,” Mr. Randolph said in a 1990 interview with the Associated Press. “I’ll hang my hat on it. It’s kept me alive. Every sax player in the world has tried to play it. Some are good; some are awful.”
“Yakety Sax” was used on the TV program “The Benny Hill Show” more than two decades after the tune was on the charts.
“It rejuvenated the song,” Mr. Randolph said in 1990. “So many people know it from the show.”
He also was part of the Million Dollar Band on the TV show “Hee Haw.”
Mr. Randolph was born Homer Louis Randolph in Paducah, Ky., and grew up in the rural community of Cadiz, Ky., where he learned to play music with his family’s band.
He said he didn’t know where or why he got the nickname “Boots,” although his Web site suggested it was to avoid confusion because he and his father shared the same first name.
Mr. Randolph began playing the ukulele and then the trombone, but switched to the tenor sax when his father brought one home.
He graduated from high school in Evansville, Ind., then joined the Army and became a member of the Army Band.
After his discharge, he played primarily jazz at nightclubs for $60 a week. He finally landed a recording contract with RCA in Nashville in 1958 and also was hired as a musician for recording sessions.
By Bob Dole
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