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 (Results 51-61 of 61 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
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  
(Results 51-61 of 61 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gussak, Billy," accessed February 2, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/114901.

Gussak, Billy. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/114901.

"Gussak, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 2 February 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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