Rocking in heaven
Francis ‘Franny’ Beecher, lead guitarist for Bill Haley and His Comets, died in his sleep last month at a nursing home near Philadelphia. He was 92.
Franny played with Benny Goodman and Buddy Greco before joining Bill Haley and His Comets in 1955, when they helped begin the rock ‘n’ roll era with the worldwide chart-topper ‘Rock Around The Clock’.
Although Philadelphia session musician Danny Cedrone played on the original recording before his death in 1954, Franny played the signature song for the first time on US national television in 1955, and also played it with the group in films.
He played on a string of hits like ‘See You Later, Alligator’ on which he starts the song by reciting its title, ‘Burn That Candle’, ‘R-O-C-K’ and ‘Don’t Knock the Rock’.
Franny played with the Comets until 1962 and helped re-form them in the 1980s after Bill Haley’s death. They toured the US and internationally.
Bill Haley and His Comets were the first American rock act to tour the UK, making a big impact on a generation of budding teenage musicians including The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and countless others.