Debuting on the Sam C. Phillips International label in November, 1957, “Raunchy” is considered one of Rock’s first big instrumental hits, yet it did nearly as well in the Country music field, too. On the Pop side, “Raunchy” would peak at number two, and might have even been a number one hit, had there not been a competing version on the chart at the same time, by Ernie Freeman. Freeman’s version would peak at four. On the Country side, though, Bill Justis pretty much had it all to himself, as the record would peak at six on the charts, while the Ernie Freeman version would make only a brief appearance, peaking at eleven.
Best known to most listeners for the aptly titled instrumental smash “Raunchy,” Bill Justis was also a longtime linchpin of the Nashville recording community, working as a producer, musical director, and A&R man for labels including Sun and Mercury. Born October 14, 1927, in Birmingham, Alabama, he grew up in Memphis, studying music and English at Tulane University while playing trumpet in local jazz and dance bands.