b. 7 December 1924, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, d. 2 June 2002, Saratoga, Florida, USA. Bennett’s family relocated to Nashville, where he attended high school and first sang and played drums with the WSM studio band. After brief service in World War II, he formed the Southlanders, who played western swing dance music and recorded for King Records in the early 50s. Noting the success of Bill Haley, Bennett renamed his band the Rockets (Haley had recently changed his Saddlemen to the Comets) and recorded further King tracks aimed at the younger audience. In 1955, ‘Seventeen’ became a number 5 pop hit and one of the label’s most successful records. Further pop numbers followed, including ‘My Boy-Flat Top’ (number 39) and a version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. Both ‘Seventeen’ (1955) and ‘My Boy-Flat Top’ (1956) were Top 20 pop hits in the UK for Frankie Vaughan. In 1956, Bennett’s band backed Moon Mullican, when he made his popular rockabilly recordings of ‘Seven Nights To Rock’ and ‘I’m Mad With You’. In 1959, Bennett left King and recorded briefly for Mercury Records. He had carefully invested the money that he made from the King recordings and, believing he was then too old to compete with the rockabilly youngsters, he left the music. He concentrated on his business enterprises, which included three nightclubs and, later, a company that manufactured parts for air-conditioning systems. Bennett also overcame severe health problems in the 70s and 80s, including lymphoma and pulmonary fibrosis. In 1988, some of his King recordings appeared on Boyd Bennett And His Rockets: Seventeen, a Danish album. Bennett finally retired to Dallas, where he made occasional appearances with Ray Price.
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