Born 7 July 1915, New York City
Guitarist / arranger / producer / bandleader.
Billy Mure was one of those uncredited session men from the 1950s whose guitar licks have graced many a rock n roll record. Besides his session work he also recorded many solo albums, which are held ín high esteem by those who are familiar with them. Some aficionados of early electric guitar music rate him at least as highly as Les Paul.
Born in the Big Apple in 1915, Mure played violin by age five. In his early teens he switched to guitar and by age 13 he was composing. Between 1937 and 1943 he was part of Val Ernie's prominent society orchestra. Enlisted from 1943-1945, he learned arranging while playing with an Air Force band. Upon returning to New York City in 1947, he joined the staff orchestra at radio station WNEW, where he stayed for ten years. He picked up occasional studio work on the side, playing on a couple of singles by the Three Suns (a trio that included Al Nevins and scored a # 1 hit in 1947 with "Peg'O My Heart"). Starting 1957, his work as a session guitarist began to increase. Especially the Atlantic and Jubilee labels often made use of his services, resulting in sessions with artists like LaVern Baker, Ivory Joe Hunter, Joe Turner, Bobby Darin ("Splish Splash"), Ben E. King, Bobby Freeman ("Do You Wanna Dance"), Don Rondo, Della Reese, the Sparkletones, Ersel Hickey and many others. On these sessions he often also served as arranger and / or conductor.
Mure was also a prolific songwriter, with 243 entries in the BMI database. He produced and wrote "Got A Match" for the Daddy-O's (# 39 in 1958) on the Cabot label (a cover version by Frank Gallop on ABC made # 57), but more interesting is his composition "Gazachstahagen", a good R&R instrumental, which the Wildcats took to # 57 on the Billboard charts in early 1959 (United Artists 154 / London HLT 8787). It's not clear if Billy himself played on the record ; according to Joel Whitburn, the Wildcats were a trio (discovered by Mure) : Dennis Gorgas (guitar), Frank Rainey (organ) and Pat Piccininno (drums). But there is also a Wildcats LP, "Bandstand Record Hop" (United Artists UAL 3031), which is credited to "The Wildcats featuring Billy Mure". Another chart success was "String Of Trumpets" by the Trumpeteers (Splash 800, # 64 in 1959, issued in the UK on Felsted AF 120), a big-band styled group directed by Billy Mure. Also released in the UK was "Jambalaya"/"Kaw-Liga" on Top Rank JAR 344 (1960). Two fine guitar instrumentals.
Already in 1957, Mure had started making albums featuring his "Super- sonic" guitar. His first LP was recorded for RCA Victor and was called "Supersonic Guitars in Hi-Fi" (RCA LPM 1536, released in mono only). For this album Mure utilized four guitars with amplified rhythm, two drums and one bass. The playing was wild and frantic and would fit right into the new sounds of rock n roll. His next LP was "Fireworks" (RCA LPM 1694), this time recorded in "living stereo". It included four of Billy's own songs, "Firecrackers", "Dancing Guitars", "Guitar Theme" and "Crackerjack". He added a third drummer and eight vocalists for these sessions, giving him a unique sound. Billy followed this with a third album for RCA entitled "Supersonics In Flight" (LPM 1869, 1958). His first MGM LP, "Supersonic Guitars" (MGM E 3780, 1960) is in the same vein. It is primarily on these four LP's that Mure's reputation as an exceptional guitarist is based. He followed Les Paul's pioneering work in multitracking, recording separate guitar tracks, often speeding them up for spectacular effects. Unlike Les Paul, he didn't enjoy consistent label sponsorship, so his albums sold poorly and are now hard to find.
In 1963 he left RCA, where he had been on the A&R staff, and formed his own independent production company, BM Productions. He worked with a variety of pop and rock and roll acts, most of them minor, but achieved at least one Top 3 hit with Marcie Blane's "Bobby's Girl" (1962). His later albums, on MGM, Kapp, Everest and the budget label Strand (for which he made several LP's of Hawaiian music), are less interesting. Now in his nineties, Mure is still in good health and continues to perform occasionally.
CD : "Fireworks" and "Supersonics In Flight" were released on one CD by Astro Age: http://www.fmydesign.com/mure.htm
Unfortunately, Astro Age went out of business recently. The remaining stock is available from this website: http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=21956&forum=12&start=last&0
Appendix : Billy Mure US singles. Compiled by Tapio Väisänen.
56 COSMIC 1001
6 TRACK EP (UK only)
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