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Franny Beecher, Guitarist for Bill Haley & the Comets, Dies at 92

Franny Beecher
Franny Beecher (standing, 2nd from right), John Franks, Getty Images

A rock n’ roll pioneer has passed away. Franny Beecher, lead guitarist for Bill Haley & the Comets from 1954 to 1962, died in a nursing home outside Philadelphia on Feb. 24. He was 92.

Beecher played on such mid-’50s classics as ‘Rip It Up,’ ‘Skinny Minnie’ and ‘See You Later, Alligator‘ — that’s his high-pitched voice that opens the song. Contrary to some reports, he did not play the classic solo on 1954’s ‘(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock.’ That was performed by session guitarist Danny Cedrone, who died two months after recording the song when he fell down a flight of stairs.

Fluid in both country and jazz, Beecher cut his teeth with Buddy Greco and the Benny Goodman Orchestra in the late-’40s. He was originally hired as a session guitarist by Haley, but when ‘Rock Around the Clock’ became a hit in 1955 and they needed a full-time lead player, Beecher was hired and, through their many TV and movie appearances, became identified with the solo, albeit mistakenly.

Beecher continued to perform, both on his own and with the other Comets, until his retirement two years ago, at the age of 90. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Comets in 2012. According to Fox News, Beecher is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2014

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