“Yakety Sax” is a pop novelty instrumental jointly composed by James Q. “Spider” Rich and Boots Randolph Saxophonist Randolph popularized the selection in his 1963 recording, which reached number 35 on the rock charts.UK comedian Benny Hill later made it more widely known as the closing theme music of The Benny Hill Show. The piece is considered Randolph’s signature song.
The selection includes pieces of assorted fiddle tunes and was originally composed by Rich for a performance at a venue called The Armory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Two bars of Entrance of the Gladiators and The Girl I Left Behind are also worked into it.
Randolph’s take on the piece was inspired by a sax solo in the Leiber and Stoller song Yakety Yak, recorded in 1958 by the Coasters.The tunes are similar, and both feature the yakety sax sound. Randolph first recorded Yakety Sax that year for RCA Victor, but it did not become a hit till he re-recorded it for Monument Records in 1963; this version reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Guitarist Chet Atkins recorded a version of Yakety Sax in 1965 called Yakety Axe. Atkins’ version used a similar tempo and showcased his country guitar picking style in place of a saxophone. The title change referred to the colloquial term for an electric guitar as an axe.
Chet Atkins – Yakety Axe Lyrics
poverty stricken but still i’m stickin’
to things i know to be facts
one day it’s feathers and the next day chicken
while i’m pickin’ my yakety axe
everybody says that i never will get far
keepin’ out of work by pickin’this guitar
livin’ on a shoestring puttin’ off things
like a shave and a haircut
money don’t matter as long as i scatter
a little bit of happiness around
if people keep grinnin’ i figure i’m winnin’
with my good ole yakety sound
city slickers go around turnin’ up their noses
countin’ their greenbacks smellin’ their roses
but i wouldn’t quit my yakety axe
even for a t-bone
i’m confessin’ i never took a lesson
all of my notes is a matter of guessin’
hopin’ they’ll come out in some sort of manner
that’ll make a yakety sound
if you get in the mood and your feet start pattin’
you feel a little groovy and your hands start clappin’
then i’ve done what i’ve wanted to do a way back
i got you diggin’ my yakety axe