Billy Vaughn is most famous for his "Twin Saxes" sound, most commonly heard on his best known song "Sail Along Silv'ry Moon." Vaughn is most often heard, though, as the orchestra backing Pat Boone, Gale Storm, and a host of other Dot artists of the 50's and 60's. This page will focus on his solo work.

Billy Vaughn with Gale Storm
Richard (his given name) started the Hilltoppers at Western Kentucky College in 1952. He was leading his own orchestra by 1954, making #2 on the pop charts with "Melody of Love." By 1956 he had become Dot record's musical director. Billy had numerous pop singles and albums chart in mid 50's to early 60's. He actively recorded until about 1972. He had more charting records than any other orchestra during the rock era.

Billy went through four stages during his recording career. In the first, 1954-1957, his sound is virtually indistinguishable from the hundreds of other pop orchestras of the period. Heavy on the strings, this period produced few recordings of note. (Sorry dad, I just don't like "Shifting, Whispering Sands" much.) One song worth checking out is "When the White Lilacs Bloom Again," featuring the harmonica heard on many of Billy's recordings.

The second stage, 1957-1963, is the definitive Billy Vaughn. Here Billy uses his trademark "twin sax" sound almost exclusively. He features an alto sax for the melody, with a second alto sax a third away. Supporting instruments always included four tenor saxes for the body, with a rhythm section, usually containing one or two guitars, a piano, drums, and bass. Sometimes other instuments were used, such as strings, but the "twin sax" sound always is prominent. To me, even though most of the recordings are covers of other's songs, Billy's arraingements sound fresh. As long as he just tried to be himself, the recordings never sound trite or boring. In the third stage, Billy thought he would lead yet another Glenn Miller revival. He adopted a brass and woodwinds section, and his trademark sound is rarely heard. This lasted from about 1964 to 1966. Mostly, others arrainged the music. In fact, I often doubt that Vaughn had anything to do with these albums, being too busy working for Dot. Probably someone else is even directing the band, but Dot wanted to use the popular Vaughn name to sell albums. These albums are rarely horrible, but lack life.

The last stage, 1967-? is what I would call "sax renaissance." Vaughn returned to the twin sax sound, but with a fuller orchestra. He continued to record for Paramount when the management and name of Dot records changed. These recordings are not as good as Vaughn in his prime (many were recorded in Europe, and do not utilize Mr. Gordon), but are still enjoyable. During this period, Billy tried some vocal group records, ala Ray Conniff. I think these are an assault to mankind. Avoid these at all costs.


Additionally, there are two names that should not be neglected. Justin Gordon is the "Twin Sax" player. Billy Vaughn came up with the Twin Sax sound, but it is Mr. Gordon who brought it to life with his unequaled sax work. Additionally, Milt Rogers wrote many of the better arraingements during the twin sax heyday. So who do I give credit? To Billy for creating the sound, and for writing arraingements, and for creating a loose atmosphere that allowed the creation of some of the best pop music ever recorded. To Justin Gordon for the distintive sax sound: Not syrupy, not harsh, but clean and sharp. To Milt Rogers for working (often anonymously) on arraingements in the Vaugn Style.

Very Incomplete Billy Vaughn discography.

Ratings (in parenthesis)
(1) Run for your life. Bad, Bad, Bad
(2) Avoid. Tarnish on the Vaughn Name
(3) Not good. Perhaps a good track.
(4) Uneven at best.
(5) Mediocre
(6) Consistent, perhaps uninspired, but very listenable
(7) Nice
(8) Much to recommend
(9) Excellent Album. Definitive Vaughn.
(10)Makes my top 25 albums list.

Albums

Label RECORD # (see note) Album Title My Rating I Own?
Dot 109 (10") untitledSweet Music and Memories 44 NY
Dot 3001 Sweet Music and Memories 4 Y
Dot 3016 Golden Instrumentals, The 3 Y
Dot 3045 Instrumental Souvenirs 4 Y
Dot 3064 Melodies in Gold 5 Y
Dot 3086 Music for the Golden Hours 4 Y
Dot 3100 Sail Along Silvr'y Moon 8 Y
Dot 3119 Billy Vaughn Plays the Million Sellers 3 Y
Dot 3140 La Paloma 10 Y
Dot 3148 Christmas Carols 5 Y
Dot 3156 Billy Vaughn Plays 9 Y
Dot 3165 Blue Hawaii 6 Y
Dot 3201 Golden Hits 3 Y
Dot 3205 Golden Saxophones 10 Y
Dot 3260 Billy Vaughn Plays Stephen Foster 2 Y
Dot 3275 Linger Awhile 10 Y
Dot 3276 Summer Place, A 6 Y
Dot 3280 Golden Waltzes 3 Y
Dot 3288 Great Golden Hits 8 Y
Dot 3322 Look for a Star 5 Y
Dot 3349 Sundowners, The 5 Y
Dot 3366 Wheels and Orange Blossom Special 7 Y
Dot 3396 Berlin Melody 8 Y
Dot 3409 Greatest String Band Hits 7 Y
Dot 3424 Chapel by the Sea 4 Y
Dot 3442 Shifting, Whispering Sands, The 3 Y
Dot 3458 Swingin' Safari, A 6 Y
Dot 3497 1962's Greatest Hits 8 Y
Dot 3523 Sukiyaki 5 Y
Dot 3540 Number 1 Hits vol. 1 6 Y
Dot 3558 Greatest Boogie Woogie Hits 7 Y
Dot 3559 Blue Velvet and 1963's Greatest Hits 5 Y
Dot 3578 Forever 5 Y
Dot 3593 Another Hit Album 5 Y
Dot 3605 Pearly Shells 6 Y
Dot 3625 12 Golden Hits from Latin America 9 Y
Dot 3628 Mexican Pearls 6 Y
Dot 3654 Moon Over Naples 5 Y
Dot 3679 Michelle 4 Y
Dot 3698 Great Country Hits 5 Y
Dot 3751 Alfie 3 Y
Dot 3782 Sweet Maria (singers) ? N
Dot 3788 That's Life 6 Y
Dot 3796 Josephine 4 Y
Dot 3800 Somethin' Stupid ? N
Dot 3811 Golden Hits (best of) 7 N
Dot 3828 Ode to Billy Joe 6 Y
Dot 10500 Big 100, The 7 Y
Dot 25813 I Love You (singers) ? N
Dot 25827 Quietly Wild 7 Y
Dot 25837 Pretty Country (singers) ? N
Dot 25841 As Requested 7 Y
Dot 25882 Current Set of Standards, A 8 Y
Dot 25897 Alone with Today (singers) ? N
Dot 28599 Have Yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas ? N
Dot 25911 Nashville Saxophones ? N
Dot 25937 Windmills of Your Mind, The 7 Y
Dot 25969 True Grit ? N
Dot 25975 Winter World of Love 6 Y
Dot SQBO 91490 Nearness of You, The (Capitol Record Club only) 6 Y
Hamilton ? Songs I Wrote 5 Y
Hamilton ? A Strauss Waltz Concert ? N
Paramount 1033 Electrified ? N
Paramount 5032 Theme from "Love Story" 5 N
Paramount 5037 I Don't Know How to Love Him 5 Y
Paramount 6025 An Old Fashioned Love Song 4 Y
Paramount 6035 Soundstage! ? N
Paramount 6044 Country's Greatest Hits 8 Y
Ranwood 7025 Play 22 of His Greatest Hits 6 Y
This list only includes albums released in the United States. I know that Japan released some albums with tracks unavailable in the U.S. If anyone has information on these please let me know. Look soon for an update on these.

This listing makes no attempt to list records issued by Pickwick, as those records were solely re-issues of previously released material.
Note on Numbering. Dot Mono albums have a 3 prefix. Dot Stereo albums have a 25 prefix. The "Big 100" album must be a special set.


A list of Vaughn's records that hit the Hot 100. Nothing good to say about Vaughn, though.

The Vaughn Audio Sample

Billy Vaughn's "Hawaiian" Sound, by request. This is Sweet Leilani from Dot 45 - 15514 (matrix MW-9374) From October 1956


If you enjoy Billy Vaughn and his style of music in general, why not join the poporchestra newsgroup for discussion? Anyone may join. If you have anyproblems joining from this link, feel free to e-mail me and I'll help you.

Also, please see the Percy Faith pages 


I claim to be no expert on Billy Vaughn. I just noticed there were not any pages devoted to this great artist and decided to make one. This page probably contains many mistakes. If you have any more or have corrected information about Billy I would love to hear from you. Or just drop me a line to talk about the music! Or, get lucky and catch me on Yahoo Messenger. My ID is "settlet".
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Picture of Billy Vaughn's vocal group the Hilltoppers from the Ed Sullivan show. Billy is farthest to the left, next to Mr. Sullivan. Thanks to Ron Fleshman for sending this!