Boots Randolph, born Homer Louis Randolph III in Paducah, Kentucky, is an iconic figure in the world of saxophone. His distinctive style and virtuosity on the saxophone marked his presence in the music industry and he is best known for his 1963 hit “Yakety Sax.”
Raised in a musical household, Randolph got his first saxophone at the age of 16. His musical journey began in earnest when he joined the United States Army, where he played in the Army Band during his service in the Korean War. After his military service, Randolph began to gain recognition as a talented saxophonist, playing in various bands around the country.
The turning point in Randolph’s career came when he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the late 1950s. His unique blend of jazz, pop, and country quickly made him a sought-after session musician in the Nashville music scene. He played on Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and REO Speedwagon’s “Little Queenie.”
His own recording of “Yakety Sax,” a tune written with guitarist James Rich, brought him fame beyond the session world. The catchy tune became a hit and is often associated with comedian Benny Hill, who used it as a theme song for his show.
In the 1960s, Randolph became a part of a group of Nashville’s top-tier session musicians known as the “A-Team.” His saxophone graced hundreds of pop and country recordings during this period. He was also a regular part of the house band for the television program “Hee Haw.”
In 1977, Randolph opened a successful club in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley, where he performed regularly until his retirement in 1998. He was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2007, commemorating his contributions to music in his home state.
Boots Randolph passed away in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of unique saxophone music that continues to influence and inspire musicians today.
Page last updated 6/18/2023.