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The Supersonic Guitar Man. Picking up the violin at the age of five, Mure added the guitar in his early teens. After leaving school, he joined Val Ernie's society band and played ritzy resorts like Palm Beach and glitzy clubs like the El Morocco for the next five years.
Enlisted during World War II, he learned arranging while playing with an Air Force band. After the war, he first settled in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he got a lot of practice arranging for the many musical combos formed there by ex-service musicians. But he returned to New York City in 1947 and joined the staff orchestra at radio station WNEW.
Mure stayed with WNEW for ten years, but picked up occasional studio work on the side. He played on a couple of the Three Suns' singles and in bands backing singers such as Helen Merrill and Della Reese. He wrote the arrangement for one of Reese's biggest hits, "My Heart Reminds Me," as will as Bobby Freeman's early rock hits, "Do You Want to Dance?" and "Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes." He also dabbled in film scoring, for Kim Novak's Five Against the House and No Down Payment, wrote the theme for legendary New York DJ Murray the K, and even composed and conducted music for several children's albums released by MGM in the mid-1960s. One of his odder odd-jobs was arranging and conducting a Beatles cash-in album by the Nutty Squirrels, better known as Don Elliott and Sascha Burland.
But for space-age pop fans, Billy Mure is best known for his incredible albums of sizzling guitar work and tape pyrotechnics. Like Buddy Merrill, Mure followed Les Paul's pioneering work in multitracking, recording separate guitar tracks, often speeding them up for spectacular effects. Unlike Paul, he didn't enjoy consistent label sponsorship, so his albums sold poorly and are now hard to find.
His first album, recorded for RCA Victor, was Super-Sonic Guitars In Hi-Fi. Released in 1957 in glorious mono, it featured Mure playing four guitars with two sets of drums and one bass player. It wasn't quite rock and roll, but it was certainly much more frenetic than most contemporary instrumental music. His next recording, descriptively titled, Fireworks, was recorded in RCA's legendary "Living Stereo," and Mure penned four original numbers: "Firecrackers", "Dancing Guitars", "Guitar Theme" and "Crackerjack". He also added a third drummer and a vocal chorus. His first MGM album is in the same vein, and there are hyperactive performances to be found on his Hawaiian albums for the low-budget label Strand.
In 1963, he left RCA, where he'd been on the A&R staff, and formed his own independent production company, BM Productions. He worked with a variety of pop and rock and roll acts, most of them minor, but achieved at least one chart topper with Marcie Blane's hit, "Bobbie's Girl."
His later albums--sometimes credited to fictitious groups such as the Palm Beach Band (for a "Winchester Cathedral" clone) tend to be tame wannabe versions of then-current trends. But if you see any of the Supersonic guitar albums, grab them!
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