(born Rudolph Clement Pompilii) in Chester, Pennsylvania
on April 16, 1924 (many sources say 1926) — died February 5, 1976) was an American musician best known for playing tenor saxophone
with Bill Haley and His Comets
's longest-serving musician, Pompilli began working with Haley in September 1955 and was still a member of The Comets at the time of his death more than 19 years later. Occasional sources spell his first name as "Rudi" however Pompilli himself never used this form.
Pompilli, who was also skilled at playing the clarinet
, and worked with jazz
bands prior to joining Haley's group. In 1953 he was with the Ralph Marterie
Orchestra, which scored a hit with a cover version
of Haley's "Crazy Man, Crazy
", though according to Haley (in on-stage discussion recorded for the 1969 album, Bill Haley's Scrapbook
), the young horn player had a dislike for rock and roll
musicians. Research conducted by Haley historian Chris Gardner
for a February 2006 article on Pompilli for Now Dig This
magazine resulted in no evidence being found that Pompilli performed on the Marterie's version of "Crazy Man, Crazy".
Pompilli was invited to join the Comets in the fall of 1955, after Haley's previous sax player, Joey Ambrose quit along with two other Comets to form The Jodimars
. Ambrose gave Pompilli a crash course in the Haley style of saxophone playing, and he also learned the stage antics pioneered by Ambrose and... Read More