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Billy Vaughn

  • Born Richard Smith Vaughn, 12 April 1919, Glasgow, Kentucky
  • Died 26 Sept 1991, Escondido, California

Billy Vaughn was among the most successful instrumental artists of the 1950s, a man who never heard a song he didn't cover.

Like Les Baxter, Vaughn started as a vocalist, leading a group called the Hilltoppers, and had a string of hits throughout the 1950s. The most famous of these was a cover of Terry Gilkyson's "Marianne" in 1957. In the mid 1950s, Vaughn became musical director of Dot Records, which specialized in cover records. He led the syrupy orchestra behind such white-bread covers of original black R&B hits as the Fontane Sister's "Hearts of Stone" (first done by the Charms) and Gale Storm's "I Hear You Knocking" (written by Dave Bartholomew, recorded by Smiley Lewis, made a hit by Fats Domino).

Between 1954 and 1968, Vaughn recorded over 25 albums of covers instrumentals for Dot. Several of his recordings outsold the originals, among them "The Shifting, Whispering Sands" (first done by Rusty Draper) and "Melody of Love" (a cover of a French hit, "Melodie d'Amour"). He also released an EP featuring a version of "Shifting, Whispering Sands" with narration by Ken Nordine.

Vaughn did many of his own arrangements, but during the 1960s, he began to rely on other Dot house arrangers such as Milt Rogers, as well as freelancers Jimmie Haskell, Jack Pleis, and Jerry Gray. Like Dot's other leading band leader and cover factory, Lawrence Welk, Vaughn tended to have a consistent, predictable sound, a little heavier on the sax section than Welk. Yet both Vaughn and Welk occasionally let a distinctive cut slip through. That's Life, for example, includes enjoyably hokey now sound covers of "Music to Watch Girls By" and the lesser-known "Pineapple Market."

As Vaughn's popularity faded in the US, it grew in Germany and Japan, and he took bands on tours of each country several times.


  • The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Dot DEP-1060
  • Sweet Music and Memories, Dot DLP-3001
  • The Golden Instrumentals, Dot DLP-3016
  • Instrumental Souvenirs, Dot DLP-3045
  • Melodies in Gold, Dot DLP-3064
  • Music for the Golden Hours, Dot DLP-3086
  • Sail Along, Silv'ry Moon, Dot DLP-3100
  • The Million Sellers, Dot DLP-3119
  • La Paloma, Dot DLP-3140
  • Billy Vaughn Plays, Dot DLP-3156
  • Blue Hawaii, Dot DLP-3165
  • Golden Hits, Dot DLP-3201
  • Golden Saxophones, Dot DLP-3205
  • The Big 100, Dot DLP10500
  • Plays Stephen Foster, Dot DLP-3260
  • Linger Awhile, Dot DLP-3275
  • Theme from a Summer Place, Dot DLP-3276
  • Great Golden Hits, Dot DLP-3288
  • Look for a Star, Dot DLP-3322
  • Golden Waltzes, Dot DLP-3280
  • Theme from "The Sundowners," Dot DLP-3349
  • Wheels and Orange Blossom Special, Dot DLP-3366
  • Berlin Melody, Dot DLP-3396
  • Greatest String Band Hits, Dot DLP-3409
  • Chapel By the Sea, Dot DLP-25424
  • The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Dot DLP-25442
  • Blue Velvet and 1963's Great Hits, Dot DLP-25559
  • Pearly Shells, Dot DLP-25605
  • Mexican Pearls, Dot DLP-25628
  • Moon Over Naples, Dot DLP-25654
  • Michelle, Dot DLP-25679
  • Alfie, Dot DLP-25751
  • That's Life, Dot DLP-25788
  • Somethin' Stupid, Dot DLP-25800
  • Ode to Billy Joe, Dot DLP-25828
  • Pretty Country, Dot DLP-25837
  • Billy Vaughn, Dot DLP-25841
  • Quietly Wild, Dot DLP-25857
  • A Current Set of Standards, Dot DLP-25882
  • Have Yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas, Dot DLP-25899
  • Nashville Saxophones, Dot DLP-25911
  • Look What I Found in the Attic, Dot DLP-25936
  • The Windmills of Your Mind, Dot DLP-25937
  • True Grit, Dot DLP-25969
  • Everything is Beautiful, Dot DLP-25985
  • Golden Gems, Hamilton SHLP 12113
  • A Strauss Waltz Concert, Hamilton SHLP 12147
  • An Old Fashioned Love Song, Paramount PAS 6025
    and many, many more. . . .
      The Billy Vaughn Singers
    • Sweet Maria, Dot DLP-25782
    • I Love You, Dot DLP-25813
    • Pretty Country, Dot DLP-25837
    • Alone with Today, Dot DLP-25897

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