Billy Gussak

William "Billy" Gussak (c. 1920 – 1994) was an American jazz and recording session drummer, best known for being the drummer on the classic 12 April 1954 recording of "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. Some sources incorrectly spell his name as Guesak.

Gussak was a well-respected session drummer, who had been used by Haley on some of his 1953 recordings, including "Real Rock Drive" and "Crazy Man, Crazy" in preference to the Comets' usual live drummer Dick Boccelli (also known as Dick Richards). According to one source , it was record producer Milt Gabler who insisted on using Gussak. "Gabler, who wanted to stress the big beat sound that he could get from [recording studio] Pythian Temple's acoustics, brought in his own session drummer ... Beginning with his three rim shots at the start of the record, Gussak would drop echoed snare bombs throughout, giving a dynamic to "Rock Around The Clock" that Haley's material had never had before."

Gussak continued as a studio drummer after "Rock Around The Clock" became successful, recording occasionally with Haley through 1954/55 and then recording with The Jodimars, the members of the Comets who had split away from Haley. Gussak later moved to California, where he recorded with Perry Como among others, before retiring due to arthritis. In the early 1960s he collaborated on some songs with eccentric musician Stephen "Brute Force" Friedland, at the time the boyfriend of his daughter.

Gussak is also credited with a number of patents in relation to drum design. He died in 1994.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1920, Died 1994

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1936 - 1955

Roles Represented in DAHR: traps, drums

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-037652 10-in. 6/16/1939 Guess I'll go back home (This summer) Three Reasons ; Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with female vocal trio and jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-038235 10-in. 7/7/1939 Time on my hands Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-038236 10-in. 7/7/1939 Manhattan Disck Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-038237 10-in. 7/7/1939 Drifting down the river of dreams Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-038238 10-in. 7/7/1939 Old mill wheel Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-041579 10-in. 8/17/1939 Blue orchids Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-041580 10-in. 8/17/1939 One morning in May Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-041581 10-in. 8/17/1939 Lazy river Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-041582 10-in. 8/17/1939 Its a hundred to one (I'm in love) Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042638 10-in. 9/5/1939 (Everybody's happy for) Myrtle Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042639 10-in. 9/5/1939 It's funny to everyone but me Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042640 10-in. 9/5/1939 The beautiful buxom barmaid Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042641 10-in. 9/5/1939 The starlit hour Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042776 10-in. 10/3/1939 Who told you I cared Dinah Shore Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042777 10-in. 10/3/1939 I like to recognize the tune Dinah Shore Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042778 10-in. 10/3/1939 I thought about you Dinah Shore Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042779 10-in. 10/3/1939 (Why couldn't it last) Last night Dinah Shore Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042944 10-in. 10/12/1939 Ciri-biri-bin Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042945 10-in. 10/12/1939 Vol vistu gaily star Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042946 10-in. 10/12/1939 Goody goodbye Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-042947 10-in. 10/12/1939 No mama no Smoothies Mixed vocal trio, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-043307 10-in. 10/24/1939 It's the talk of the town Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-043308 10-in. 10/24/1939 I can't get started Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-043309 10-in. 10/24/1939 It's a hap-hap-happy day Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-043310 10-in. 10/24/1939 The creaking old mill on the creek Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046060 10-in. 1/3/1940 Friendship Smoothies Mixed vocal group, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046061 10-in. 1/3/1940 Say 'si, si' (Para vigo me voy) Smoothies Mixed vocal group, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046062 10-in. 1/3/1940 Pretty baby Smoothies Mixed vocal group, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046063 10-in. 1/3/1940 Easy does it Smoothies Mixed vocal group, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046717 10-in. 1/25/1940 After I say I'm sorry (what can I say) Shirley Howard Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046718 10-in. 1/25/1940 The Japanese sandman Shirley Howard Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046719 10-in. 1/25/1940 Sleepy head Shirley Howard Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-046720 10-in. 1/25/1940 The sky fell down Shirley Howard Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-048470 10-in. 3/28/1940 Just a-whistlin' and a-whittlin' (and a-watchin' the world go by) Dinah Shore ; Paul Wetstein Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-048471 10-in. 3/28/1940 Imagination Dinah Shore ; Paul Wetstein Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-048472 10-in. 3/28/1940 Say it Dinah Shore ; Paul Wetstein Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-048473 10-in. 3/28/1940 Shake down the stars Dinah Shore ; Paul Wetstein Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, traps  
Victor BS-060665 10-in. 2/19/1941 The hat my father wore (upon St. Patrick's Day) Harry's Tavern Band ; Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-060666 10-in. 2/19/1941 That's how you can tell they're Irish Harry's Tavern Band ; Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-060667 10-in. 2/19/1941 When I see the loving they waste on babies (I long for the cradle again) Harry's Tavern Band ; Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-060668 10-in. 2/19/1941 He took her for a sleigh ride (in the good old summertime) Harry's Tavern Band ; Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-063781 10-in. 4/17/1941 I wonder what's become of Sally? Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-063782 10-in. 4/17/1941 Say it isn't so Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-063783 10-in. 4/17/1941 Together Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, drums  
Victor BS-063784 10-in. 4/17/1941 Maria Elena Dick Todd Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, drums  
Victor D6VB-1666 10-in. 2/20/1946 I'm a-goin', Sue, I'm a-goin' Zeke Manners ; Zeke Manners Band Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, drums  
Victor D6VB-2936 10-in. 9/26/1946 Inflation Zeke Manners ; Zeke Manners Band Male vocal solo, with vocal ensemble and jazz/dance band instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61423 10-in. 11/23/1936 There's a silver moon on the Golden Gate Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61424 10-in. 11/23/1936 It's de-lovely Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61425 10-in. 11/23/1936 I stumbled over love Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61426 10-in. 11/23/1936 Tea on the terrace Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61427 10-in. 11/23/1936 That foolish feeling Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61428 10-in. 11/23/1936 Where are you? Will Osborne and his Orchestra instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 86163 4/12/1954 (We're gonna) Rock around the clock Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 86164 4/12/1954 Thirteen women (and only one man in town) Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 86809 9/21/1954 Happy baby Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 86810 9/21/1954 Dim, dim the lights (I want some atmosphere)-1 Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 87325 1/5/1955 Birth of the boogie-1 Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 87326 1/5/1955 Mambo rock Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 87921 5/10/1955 Two hound dogs Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 87922 5/10/1955 Razzle dazzle Comets ; Bill Haley instrumentalist, drums  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gussak, Billy," accessed February 8, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/114901.

Gussak, Billy. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/114901.

"Gussak, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 8 February 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/114901

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