24 February, 2014 – Francis “Franny” Beecher was born on September 29, 1921 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Franny Beecher joined Bill Haley and the Comets in 1954, replacing guitarist Danny Cedrone, who had died. Frank Beecher had already enjoyed fame as the lead guitarist in the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1948-49. He appeared on The Toast of the Town show (which later became The Ed Sullivan Show) on CBS television with the Benny Goodman band in December, 1948. He is featured on two Benny Goodman albums, Modern Benny on Capitol and Benny Goodman at the Hollywood Palladium. Personnel lists generally refer to him as Francis Beecher.
During his time with Bill Haley the Comets Beecher’s guitar solos became legendary combining elements of country music and jazz. He composed the classics “Blue Comet Blues”, “Goofin’ Around” and “Shaky”. He also played with The Kingsmen in 1958, a band made up of members of Bill Haley & His Comets who were moonlighting from their regular work with Haley. This group scored a hit record (#35) on Billboard with the instrumental entitled “Week End”, written by Rudy Pompilli, Franny Beecher, and Billy Williamson. They released a follow-up single on East West Records featuring “The Catwalk” backed with “Conga Rock”.
Although the Comets did the actual recordings, when The Kingsmen went on tour a different set of musicians performed instead of Haley’s people.
The band made at least one appearance on American Bandstand in 1958.
Beecher left the Comets in 1962, but 25 years later in 1987, he participated in a Comets reunion and, though in his late 70s, he continued to perform and record with the band into 2006.
In 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him as a member of the Comets by a special committee, aimed at correcting the previous mistake of not inducting the Comets with Bill Haley.
He died peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 24, 2014 at the age of 92.