Bassists don't get enough respect in rock 'n' roll; it's not traditionally a flashy position on the musical stage. But Marshall Lytle secured his legacy in rock's pantheon early on when he laid down the bass line on Bill Haley and His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock," the iconic tune widely considered to have kicked off the rock 'n' roll era.
Lytle died on May 25 at his home in New Port Richey, Fla., at age 79 of lung cancer, reported the New York Times.
He was just a teen playing guitar at a Pennsylvania radio station when Haley recruited him -- and didn't know how to play bass (and in those days, that meant stand-up bass). No problem: 30 minutes and one lesson later, Haley had given him enough instruction to get him started. Lytle went on to play several hits with Haley and the Comets including "Shake, Rattle and Roll," but it was the 1954 release of "Rock" that secured the band and the song a place in history.
Lytle left the band in 1955, forming the Jodimars with two other former Comets. He eventually changed his name to Tommy Page to distance himself from his days with the Comets. But he couldn't escape his legacy forever: The Comets re-formed in 1987 (Haley died in 1981) and performed from time to time until 2009. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.