Billy Lee Riley 1953-2009 R.I.P.


Helped make rockabilly
a household word.


By Fred Mills


Legendary roots/rockabilly pioneer Billy Lee Riley passed
away this weekend in Jonesboro,
Arkansas, following a battle with
colon cancer. He was 75.


As previously reported, a fundraising effort for Riley and
his wife had been underway to help offset their mounting bills.


Riley, of course, was a Sun Records mainstay back in the day
whose 1957 hit “Flying Saucers Rock and Roll” made him internationally famous.
Riley road numerous rockabilly revivals over the course of his career and remained
a vital performer. In an obituary posted at, his last
public show was in June at the Rock and Soul
Museum in Memphis.


BLURT contributor Rev. Keith Gordon, in his blues blog at
, praised the icon and noted that Riley “pursued his own unique vision
of rockabilly, blues, and country-blues music; the guitarist’s affinity for the
blues could have made him a hot property in the blues world if he’d have
focused exclusively in that genre.”


With yet another classic voice silenced, the world just got
a little colder…


UPDATE/ADDITION: Those still wishing to donate funds to Riley’s widow to help out with expenses can send checks or money orders to:

Joyce Riley
723 Crest Drive
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401



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