Johnny Grande 1930-2006
In 1951, when Bill Haley put together a band called the Saddlemen, Johnny Grande joined up as a piano player. He usually played accordian on stage (easier to carry), and featured on pretty much every Haley/Comets hit you can name staying with them until 1963.
For the last 19 years he has been a member of the continuously touring Original Comets, still playing great shows earlier this year. He died on June 3rd, 2006.
Here are two of those ground breaking early fifties sides. Rocket 88 from 1951, and Rock The Joint from 1952, and no, for those of you who were wondering, the 1957 hit was a re-recording of Rock The Joint for Decca.
There's a heartfelt history and a good read at answers.com and details on Every Haley Recording Ever at Chris Gardner's great Haley Database