Billy Hill (songwriter)

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Billy Hill
Birth name William Joseph Hill
Born (1899-07-14)July 14, 1899
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died December 24, 1940(1940-12-24) (aged 41)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Genres Western music, Country music, Jazz
Occupations songwriter

Billy Hill (July 14, 1899 – December 24, 1940) was an American songwriter, violinist, and pianist who found fame writing Western songs such as "They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree", "The Last Roundup", "Wagon Wheels", and "Empty Saddles". Hill's most popular song was "The Glory of Love", recorded by Benny Goodman in 1936, Count Basie in 1937, Peggy Lee in 1959, Dean Martin in 1966, Tom Rush in 1968, Eddy Arnold in 1969, Wizz Jones in 1970, Otis Redding, The Five Keys, Paul McCartney in 2012 and Bette Midler for the film Beaches.

Early years[edit]

William Joseph Hill was born on July 14, 1899 in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He studied the violin at the New England Conservatory of Music under Karl Muck, and played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Hill left home at the age of seventeen and headed west, where he worked as a cowboy in Montana, and as a surveyor and prospector in Death Valley, California. He returned to music and played violin and piano in dance halls until forming his own jazz band in Salt Lake City, Utah.[1]

Songwriting career[edit]

In 1930, Hill moved to New York City seeking success as a songwriter while working another series of odd jobs. In 1933, he wrote his first hit song, "The Last Roundup", which was introduced by Joe Morrison at the Paramount Theater and eventually made the 1933 Hit Parade. The song's success made Billy Hill one of the most successful songwriters on Tin Pan Alley.[1]

Hill collaborated with many songwriters, including Peter De Rose, Dedette Hill (his wife), Victor Young, William Raskin, Edward Eliscu, and J. Keirn Brennan, producing standards such as "They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree", "Have you ever Been Lonely", "Wagon Wheels", "Empty Saddles", "In the Chapel in the Moonlight", "The Call of the Canyon", "On a Little Street in Singapore", "The Old Man of the Mountain", "The Old Spinning Wheel", "Lights Out", "There's a Cabin in the Pines", "Put on an Old Pair of Shoes", "Lights Out", and "The Glory of Love".[1]

Under the name of George "Funky" Brown, he co-wrote the song "Have You Ever Been Lonely?" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", which later became hit songs for the Ink Spots and Elvis Presley.

Billy Hill died on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1940 in Boston, at the age of 41.[1]

Honors and awards[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "Billy Hill Biography". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Billy Hill Song Catalog". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 

External links[edit]