Monday, June 3, 2013

Comets bass player Marshall Lytle dies

Comets bass player Marshall Lytle dies at 79

NEW PORT OICHEY, Fla. (AP) Marshall Lytle, the original bass player for Bill Haley & His Comets, one of the first bands to take rock ‘n’ roll music mainstream, has died. He was 79.

Lytle died at his home in New Port Richey, Fla. On May 25, said his niece, Shayna Golda.

Lytle recorded hits like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” with Haley in the 1950s. he was known for his percussive bass style, slapping the strings as he played, and his lifely performances. He would sometimes take the bass over his head or ride it like a surfboard.

“He’s known as the father of rock bass by some people,” said Michael Jordan Rush, who published a memoir by Lytle titled “Still Rockin’ Around the Clock” in 2011. “He certainly influenced rock bass more than any other individual.”

Lytle was born in Old Fort, North Carolina, in September 1933.

A birth defect made it nearly impossible for him to walk as a child. His older brother would carry him to and from school on his back. It was then that Lytle developed a love of music.

“He had been a musician from the time he was barely able to walk,” Golda said.

While Lytle was still a young boy, he had surgery that gave him the use of his legs,” she said.

In 1951, Lytle, then still a teen, joined Bill Haley’s Saddlemen. At the time Haley had a radio show in Chester, Pa., and the manager commented that the group didn’t look like saddlemen, Rush said.

He suggested they call themselves “the Comets” instead.

Several of the band’s hits are now iconic rock ‘n’ roll songs. “Rock Around the Clock,” recorded in 1954, is one fo the highest selling singles of all time. Lytle also played on hits like “See You Later, Alligator.”

Published in The Trentonian, Thursday May 30, 2013. p. A23

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