Chanteur US né le 26 Février 1926 à Memphis (Texas). Billy Jack Wills est le plus jeune des frères de Bob Wills. Il a débuté en 1946 dans les "Texas Playboys" de son illustre frère. En 1950, il créé son propre groupe en compagnie de Gary Cummings. Ils deviennent bientôt très populaires dans la région de Sacramento (Californie). Spécialisés dans le Western Swing, Billy Jack et ses "Western Swing Band" ont enregistré dès 1952. Il est décédé le 2 Mars 1991.

Perhaps the most underrated Western swing bandleader ever was Billy Jack Wills, the youngest brother of Bob, whose Western Swing Band broke new ground for the genre in the early '50s. Born February 26, 1926, in Memphis, Hall County, TX, Billy Jack was exposed at an early age to the music of his famous brother, as well as his father, champion fiddler John Wills. After beginning his professional career in brother Johnnie Lee Wills' Tulsa band in the early '40s, Billy Jack went to California to work as a bassist and drummer for the Texas Playboys. In that group, he played a significant role both as a Vocalsist and songwriter, lending his bluesy voice to "Cadillac in Model A" and providing lyrics to the massive hit "Faded Love."
After six years as a member of the Texas Playboys, Billy Jack got his chance as a leader when Bob moved his base of operations from the Wills Point Ballroom in Sacramento to Oklahoma City. Tired of touring, mandolinist Tiny Moore stayed behind to manage Wills Point. Needing a new band to fill the void left by Wills' departure, Moore suggested Billy Jack. Bob agreed, and Moore and Billy Jack assembled a band that included trumpeter and bassist Dick McComb, fiddler/bassist Cotton Roberts, rhythm guitarist Kenny Lowery, and steel guitarist Tommy Varner. The group, dubbed Billy Jack Wills & His Western Swing Band, began broadcasting over Sacramento's KCRA radio in 1950, soon moving to the considerably larger KFBK.
The band truly came into being, however, after the start of the Korean War. Looking to replace the drafted Varner, Wills hired a local teenager named Vance Terry, a disciple of Noel Boggs whose crisp, driving style added the final element to the group's adventurous sound.
The enormous age difference (20 years) between Billy Jack and Bob meant that the younger's musical interests were considerably more advanced. While Bob had drawn inspiration from the primitive blues and jazz of the 1910s and '20s, Billy Jack's muse lay in the developing genres of jump blues, R&B, and be-bop. These fixations gave his group a progressiveness that was found nowhere else, characterized by its hard-swinging jazz rhythms and bluesy, shouted Vocalss, which drew heavily from the styles of Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown. Between 1950 and 1954, the group enjoyed a strong Northwest following, touring and building up an eclectic repertoire of radio transcriptions. They covered many of the popular black hits of the time, including Ruth Brown's "Teardrops From My Eyes" and Larry Darnell's "For You, My Love." In 1953, the group cut a version of Roy Brown's "There's Good Rocking Tonight"; later that year, they turned in a rollicking arrangement of Bill Haley's first hit, "Crazy, Man, Crazy."
The group's success, however, was short-lived. In 1954, Bob Wills disbanded the Texas Playboys and returned to Sacramento to perform with Billy Jack. The idea was to increase business at Wills Point, but the results were disastrous. Bob quickly took charge of the group and against the wishes of most involved, immediately set off on tour, at which point Tiny Moore quit to host a children's television show.
Out on the road, energies were soon sapped. Under Wills' control, the boldness that had characterized the band's radio broadcasts began to fold, channeled into what was by now the rather stale sound of the Texas Playboys. That and the emerging television craze effectively ended the group. Vance Terry quit to enroll in college; he later joined Jimmie Rivers and the Cherokees. Tiny Moore went on to play with Merle Haggard & the Strangers. Billy Jack struggled on without success until 1960, when he retired from music. He died on March 3, 1991.

Talents : Singer, Songwriter, Bass, Drums, Guitar

Style musical : Western Swing

Years in activity :

1910 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 2000



1951 SP 4 STAR 1575 (US) Lily Dale / Down In Old Mexico
1952 SP 4 STAR 1589 (US) Cattle Call / Now That We Have Said Goodbye
195? SP 4 STAR X-11 (US) Roped And Tied (Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND / Vocals By Billy Jack WILLS)/ Water Baby Boogie  [instr.] (Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND)
195? SP 4 STAR X-18 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND / Vocals By Billy Jack WILLS - Tobacco Chewing Boogie / Lilly Dale
1954 SP MGM K11807 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - Out Of Gas / I Don't Want To Live Alone
1955 SP MGM K11907 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - Teardrops On A Diary / For The Children's Sake
04/1955 SP MGM K11966 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - There's Good Rockin' Tonight / Red Mittens
1955 SP MGM K12034 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - Hey Lula / Four Beers And Forty Tears
01/1956 SP MGM K12172 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - All She Wants To Do Is Rock / When A New Love Is Born
1956 SP MGM K12302 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - My Shoes Keep Walkin' Back To You / Will You Miss Me
1957 SP MGM K12444 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - Hey Mr. Mailman / I Loved And Lost
09/1957 SP MGM K12559 (US) Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND - Troubles (Those Lonesome Kind) / Not Very Long


1996 CD JOAQUIN 2503 (US) BILLY JACK WILLS & HIS WESTERN SWING BAND - Lonesome Hearted Blues / Dipsy Doodle / Johnson Rag / Mr. Cotton Picker / Air Mail Special / Basin Street Blues / I Don't Know / Woodchopper's Ball / Teardrops From My Eyes / Tuxedo Junction / Twin Guitar Special / St. Louis Blues / Blue Guitar Stomp / Summit Ridge Drive / Rock City Boogie / C Jam Blues / Get Along Home, Cindy / Steel Guitar Stomp / Caravan
03/1999 CD JOAQUIN 2505 (US) CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY - 1952-54 - (Billy Jack WILLS & His WESTERN SWING BAND) - Cadillac Un Model "A" / For You, My Love / Jelly Roll Blues / Skiddle Dee Boo / Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues / Sugar Blues / Stardust / Slow Drive / Crazy, Man, Crazy / Milk Cow Blues / Sweet Georgia Brown / Kentucky Means Paradise / Kissin' Bug Boogie / Jazz Me Blues / I Laugh How I Think How I Cried Over You / Take Me Back To Tulsa / Rock-A-Bye-Baby Blues (Instr.)

© Rocky Productions 26/03/2002