Bill Haley and His Comets Guitarist Dies at 92
Franny Beecher, who joined Bill Haley and His Comets as lead guitarist after the group had helped kick off the rock 'n' roll era with the hit "Rock Around the Clock" in the 1950s, died on Monday in a nursing home near Philadelphia. He was 92.
His daughter, Pauline Grinstead, confirmed his death.
The Comets, whose hits also included "See You Later, Alligator," are credited by some music historians with recording the first rock ’n’ roll song, in 1953, with "Crazy Man, Crazy," the group’s biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website says.
The Philadelphia session guitarist Danny Cedrone, who died in 1954, played on the original recording of "Rock Around the Clock." Mr. Beecher, his replacement, played when the band performed the song for the first time on national television, in 1955, and also for films, notably "Blackboard Jungle" in 1955.
"Rock Around the Clock" became a hit again nearly 20 years after its release when it was included on the 1973 soundtrack of "American Graffiti."
The Comets broke up in 1962, but in the 1980s Mr. Beecher and some of the original members reunited and toured in the United States and internationally.
Francis Beecher was born on Sept. 29, 1921, in Norristown, Pa. He started playing guitar in front of crowds when he was 17 and continued until he was 90; before the Comets, he performed with Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman, Ms. Grinstead said.
In addition to Ms. Grinstead, Mr. Beecher’s survivors include two sons and six grandchildren.