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Crow was born in Othello, Washington in the United States of America, but spent his childhood in Kirkland, Washington. After high school, he briefly played sousaphone at the University of Washington in Seattle. When he joined the Army in 1946, he played baritone horn, trombone, and drums in the army band until 1949. After leaving the Army, he returned to the University of Washington in Seattle and played in a jazz quartet after hours. In January 1950, Crow moved to New York City, briefly studied valve trombone with Lennie Tristano, and met many New York musicians and artists. He bought an old Kay bass and taught himself to play what would become his primary instrument. In 1953 he purchased an old French bass which has been his jazz voice until the present. And in 1975 he returned to playing a brass instrument, the tuba, for the first time in twenty-five years, doubling with string bass on several Broadway shows. The tuba is now his hobby.
Crow has played with bands led by Mike Riley, John Benson Brooks, Teddy Charles, Stan Getz, Al Haig, Claude Thornhill, Terry Gibbs, Don Elliot, Jerry Wald, Marian McPartland, Jimmy McPartland, Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall, Gerry Mulligan, Al Cohn & Zoot Sims, Bob Brookmeyer & Clark Terry, Roger Kellaway, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Eddie Condon, Walter Norris, Peter Duchin, Marty Napoleon, Chris Griffin, Gene DiNovi, Doug Proper, Joe Beck, Lou Caputo, Art Baron, Phil Woods and Carmen Leggio. Now plays frequently with pianist Hiroshi Yamazaki.
Crow has played Broadway shows, including Boccaccio, Rogers & Hart, The King and I, The Grand Tour, Morrisey Hall, On the Twentieth Century, and 42nd Street. He appears on many recordings with other jazz musicians, and has two CDs under his own name, The Bill Crow Quartet, with Venus Records of Tokyo. He has also self-produced a trio album with Hiroshi Yamazaki and John Cutrone titled "Embraceable You," and another with guitarist Armand Hirsch titled "Bill Crow Sings."
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With Milt Jackson
- The Ballad Artistry of Milt Jackson (Atlantic, 1959)
With Gerry Mulligan
- Mainstream of Jazz (EmArcy, 1956)
- Jazz Anecdotes and a second edition, Jazz Anecdotes, Second Time Around
- From Birdland to Broadway
- both published by Oxford University Press
- Chadbourne, Eugene. "Bill Crow: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 May 2011.