Marshall Lytle
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Marshall Lytle, whose spirited, percussive bass work was heard on one of rock 'n' roll's seminal recordings, "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets, died Saturday at his home in New Port Richey, Fla. He was 79.

The cause was lung cancer, said Cathy Smith, his partner since 2001.

Lytle was a guitar player working at a radio station in Chester, Pa., in the early 1950s when Bill Haley, who worked at a different station, hired him to replace the stand-up bass player in his band. It was an odd choice; Lytle, who was still a teenager, didn't play bass. But as he explained in many interviews, Haley gave him a 30-minute lesson, showing him the slap-bass technique, in which the strings are smacked against the fingerboard. Such playing was a feature of country music, which is what Haley's band, then known as Bill Haley and His Saddlemen, specialized in.

"He got this old bass fiddle out, started sl apping it, with a shuffle beat, and showed me the basic three notes you need on a little bass run to get started with, and I gave it a try and I said, 'Hell, I can do that,'" Lytle recalled in a 2011 radio interview.

With the Comets - the name of the band changed in 1952 - Lytle played on the hits "Crazy, Man, Crazy" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll," but their biggest success was "Rock Around the Clock." Released in 1954 on the flip side of a song called "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town)," it appeared in the film "Blackboard Jungle" the next year and quickly became a rock 'n' roll standard.

Marshall Edward Lytle was born Sept. 1, 1933, in Old Fort, N.C., where his father, John, was a hog butcher before he moved the family to Pennsylvania. He began playing guitar in his teens and never finished high school.

Lytle grew into something of a showman, lifting his bass over his shoulder onstage, tossing it in the air, even seeming to ride it like a horse. Afte r a salary dispute, Lytle and two other Comets split from Haley in 1955 and formed their own group, the Jodimars, which became a popular lounge act in Las Vegas.

He was married and divorced three times. In the 1960s, a booking agent convinced him that the name Marshall Lytle was too connected to his Bill Haley days, so he changed it to Tommy Page. In addition to Smith, he is survived by nine children and numerous grandchildren.

Haley died in 1981. Lytle reunited with other Comets in 1987 and performed off and on until 2009. With the other Comets, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.


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Published in St. Augustine Record on May 29, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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45 entries
June 3, 2020
I knew Marshall and Cathy real well they were close friends with me. I love them both dearly. Marshall's love for people and his work was awesome. There will never be another Marshall Lytle aka Tommy Paige.
Phillis Cook
November 9, 2016
Valenda Newell
May 25, 2016
Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. Godspeed.
Harry Simpson
October 7, 2013
We are so very sad to hear of Marshalls passing as we just found out today from our mutual friend Peter Ford. Marshall was a very unique person and there will never be another. We will truly miss him. Matt & Barbara Lucas
matt lucas
June 2, 2013
michelle plakas-kaiser
June 2, 2013
My condolences to the Lytle family. Praying that the God of all peace be with your family.(Romans 15:33)
June 1, 2013
We are saddened to learn of the passing of the cousin (extended family of Captain Thomas Lytle ) whom we never got to know.
Libbie Lytle Norton, Old Fort, NC
Libbie Norton
May 31, 2013
Of all the time I spent on the road, the period with Marshall was some of the happiest & rewarding. A class person.
Fred Costello
May 31, 2013
My deepest sympathy to the Lytle family. May the peace of God that excels all thought be with you in this sad time
May 31, 2013
May the God of all comfort be with you in the days ahead.
May 31, 2013
May the love of God, friends and family carry you through your grief.
May 31, 2013
May God bless your family at this difficult time and bring you comfort as you recall the many happy memories that you shared. I look forward to a better life for all of us at a better time. (Matthew 6:10)
Lee Family
May 30, 2013
In or around 1954 I remember Marshall . With bill and the comets . I was a teenager at the time I first saw them at a park in Angola indiania . Called buck lake ranch . I actuly shook hands with the group that day I first saw them . Im sorry for the family's loss of Marshall . The loss of a loved one can hurt for a very long time. As I myself am now going through that great loss. May god touch the family and love ones and always keep those love ones in his hands . The comets were the start of rock and roll music in my life .
Jim. Whitmore.
May 30, 2013
I hope this Bible scripture will help comfort you for your loss. At 1 Cor.15;20-22 says; "For just as in Adam, all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive" Your loved one will live again.
C. Evans
May 30, 2013
My condolences to the Lytle family for the loss of your love one. I truly hope that the happy memories of him and the comfort from friends and family will help you get thru this time of grief.
May 30, 2013
Rock And Roll Lost A True Pioneer. My Condolences To His Family. RIP Marshall Lytle, You Are Rockin' In Heaven Now!!
Cliff Saxon
May 30, 2013
within the Music
Broadway of
In memory of
years of music
talent :)
Our condolences to
a guide of icon era
Thank you for all
the fun Music of
UniQue olTimefavorites'
~Mr.Marshall Lytle~
Victoria&Andrew ~":"~
May 30, 2013
Our hearts are deeply saddened with grief over your loss, knowing that Almighty God cares a great deal and is concerned how we feel brings much comfort. (Psalms 145: 18,19)
May 30, 2013
Thank God he finally got his due when he was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame. A real showman and a nice, kind man. The Comets are the true rock pioneers, going back to their Twin Bar days. RIP
May 30, 2013
Rock in heaven Marshall . Rip .
John Carrillo
May 30, 2013
With condolences to family and friends and may you find comfort in Gods inspired word the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).
May 30, 2013
Offering my deepest condolences during this difficult time, I'm so very sorry for your loss, death is something we are never prepared for, but please find comfort in knowing sickness, pain and death will one day be no more.
May 30, 2013
God bless you and your loved ones ~ Rest in peace.
Jane Dowling
May 30, 2013
A true legend from the beginning of rock n roll. R.I.P. Mr. Lytle.
Michael Potorff
May 29, 2013
Thanks for the beautiful music that you were part of. I always loved the rock and roll music. May you rest in peace. I saw Rock Around the Clock at the Broadway Theatre in Houston, Texas
Mary Castillo
May 29, 2013
We met Mr. Lytle in Branson - a really nice man. We're losing all the best ones.
Karen Level
May 29, 2013
May the peace Our Heavenly Father gives help you to make it through these difficult days.
May 29, 2013
I have many fond memories of watching and listening to Bill Haley and his Saddlemen (and Marshall Lytle) at the Mal-Tone Musical Bar in Chester, PA and at radio station WPWA in Brookhaven (Chester), PA in the era of 1951-1953. Bill and his fellow Saddlemen were excellent performers and even more wonderful gentlemen. Their recording of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" pre-dated "rock Around the Clock" and I have often wondered why it (SRR) wasn't recognized as the first song to kick off Rock& Roll.
Kevin Reddington
May 29, 2013
Bill Haley wouldn't have his comics without his bass play Marshall Lyte. Rock-around-the-clock just wouldn't sound the either. Rest In Peace and God Bless you forever.
May 29, 2013
Let us keep faith in Jesus' promise at John 5:28
May 29, 2013
Iam so sorry to here about Mr Lytle. I think god needed another guitarist.
May 29, 2013
Another great one from the wonderful era has passed. B H and the Comets were my favorite rock & roll group as a kid. God bless Marshall.
May 29, 2013
May the God of peace and all comfort, be with Marshall Lytle's family, fans, and friends during this difficult time. He was a great talent and will be missed.
Tom Smith
May 29, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with the family
May 29, 2013
Alice Guckian Queen
May 29, 2013
When the Comets were featured on an oldies cruise for Concerts at Sea, I was fortunate to see their amazing performance and even met them personally. Marshall stole the show with his talent and personality. My sympathy to his family and friends.
Barbara Bogard
May 29, 2013
A brief chance meeting of Marshall in a
club in Asbury Park in the 1960's when a man heard me playing piano in an empty
club. It was Marshall. He told me he had
played bass for Bill Haley and the comets. He he said: I needed a little
polish and I would be able to play Rock
& Roll as well. Inspiring me for the rest of my life in music. God Blessed him and God BlBless his family at this time in their lives.
May 29, 2013
With Jesus your everything. Amen
bruce heckman
May 29, 2013
Friends of God, though they pass away, Will never be forsaken. All those asleep who in God's memory stay, From death they will awaken. Then they will come to see all that life can be: Paradise eternally, according to the scriptures. John5:25,28-29.
Charles Lee
May 29, 2013
Lots of fond memories from The Comets, though the band was popular before I was born.
Blessings to Mr. Lytle's loved ones.
L Barrett
May 29, 2013
I am so sorry for your great loss. May the God of all comfort sustain you during this most difficult time. (Rom.15:5) Again, my deepest sympathies.
May 29, 2013
Thank you for the roots of Rock and Roll! I love the song, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll"! My condolences to his family.
Tami B
May 29, 2013
Marshall's light is shining in Eternity! Until we see you there, keep rockin' the angels!
Deb Mentzel
May 29, 2013
we lost another legend
May 29, 2013
in God's care rest in peace
Dwayne Bickham
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