Boots Randolph has died at the age of 80. Mr. Randolph suffered a cerebral hemorrhage June 25 and had been hospitalized in a coma. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dee Baker Randolph, his son, Randy, his daughter, Linda O’Neal and his brother Bob.
Randolph played regularly in Nashville nightclubs for 30 years, becoming a tourist draw for the city much like Wayne Newton in Las Vegas and Pete Fountain in New Orleans. He recorded more than 40 albums and spent 15 years touring with the Festival of Music, teaming with fellow instrumentalists Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer. He also was part of the Million Dollar Band on the TV show “Hee Haw.”
As a session musician, he played on Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree” and “I’m Sorry,” Al Hirt’s “Java” and many others. He had his biggest solo hit with “Yakety Sax,” which he wrote. “Yakety Sax” was used on the TV program “The Benny Hill Show” more than two decades after the tune was on the charts. He charted 13 albums on the pop charts from 1963 to 1972. His other single hits included “Hey, Mr. Sax Man” in 1964 and “Temptation” in 1967.
Randolph was born Homer Louis Randolph in Paducah, Kentucky. He said he didn’t know where or why he got the nickname “Boots,” although his Web site at the time of his death suggested it was to avoid confusion because he and his father shared the same first name.
He graduated from high school in Evansville, Ind., then joined the Army and became a member of the Army Band. After his discharge, he played primarily jazz at nightclubs for $60 a week. He finally landed a recording contract with RCA in Nashville in 1958 and also was hired as a musician for recording sessions.
Randolph had his own nightclub in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley for 17 years, closing it in 1994 because of declining business and to spend more time with his family. He played regularly at other nightclubs before and after that. He had lived in Nashville since 1961.
Listen for Hot 100 entries by Boots at: TUNEDEX MEMORIES