||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
|Birth name||William Patrick McCord|
|Also known as||William McCord Jr.|
May 28, 1944 |
Riverside, California, United States
|Genres||R&B, pop, rock|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, actor, music historian|
|Instruments||Vocals, Guitar, Piano|
|Labels||Atlantic, Alfa, Macola, Capitol, Rhino, Unidisc, Pool Party, Classic World|
|Associated acts||Judy Clay
Billy Vera (born William Patrick McCord, May 28, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, author and music historian. A singer and songwriter since the 1960s, his most successful record came with "At This Moment", a US no.1 hit in 1987.
Life and career
Vera was born in Riverside, California, and is the son of the radio and television announcer Bill McCord. He began his recording career in 1962 as a member of the Resolutions. He went on to write several songs throughout the early 1960s, writing for Barbara Lewis, Fats Domino, The Shirelles and Ricky Nelson. He also wrote the garage band classic "Don't Look Back," performed by the Remains.
In 1967 Vera penned "Storybook Children" and brought it to Atlantic Records. The decision to place former gospel singer Judy Clay with Vera in a white-black duet to record the song was a commercial and artistic success. He had a solo hit single later that same year with the Bobby Goldsboro penned "With Pen in Hand", which was also the name of his next album.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s Vera focused on songwriting including "I Really Got the Feeling," which was a number 1 hit for Dolly Parton. He also participated in several archival and music preservation projects, including fronting the band at the 1972 Reunion concert of Dion & the Belmonts. Before moving to Los Angeles in 1979, he played local Westchester clubs with Ben Beckley on drums, Tommy Wolk on bass, John Levanthal on guitar, and Joe Renda on keyboards.
Living in Los Angeles, and writing songs for Warner Brothers, Vera and his old friend, bass player Chuck Fiore decided to put together a band to play the local club scene. Modeling their band on Ray Charles's 1950s band, The Beaters were born. They featured a horn section, as well as a pedal steel guitar, along with drums, piano, Fiore's bass, and Vera's lead guitar and vocals. As a result of the buzz the band generated, Alfa Records, a major Japanese record company which had recently opened an American subsidiary based in Los Angeles, offered them a recording contract. They recorded the band live, and in 1981 yielded the minor hits "I Can Take Care of Myself," which reached number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and "At This Moment," which (initially) charted at number 79. Both songs were credited as Billy & The Beaters.
The band's record deal evaporated when Alfa Records closed its U.S. offices in July 1982, but Vera and the Beaters continued to play the clubs of Southern California. In 1985, a producer from the television show Family Ties was in the audience to hear the band play "At This Moment." The song was featured in 1985 as a backdrop for romantic interludes between characters Alex (Michael J. Fox) and Ellen (Tracy Pollan). Viewers responded by clamoring for the song, and in 1986, Rhino Records released By Request: The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters, which featured the song. The single became a number one hit on its re-release, reaching the top in January 1987, and remained on the charts for 15 weeks.
Before "At This Moment," Vera had a small career in movies and television including appearances in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and soap opera Days of our Lives. "At This Moment" propelled his movie career as he and the Beaters were featured prominently in the Bruce Willis movie Blind Date. He appeared in one episode of a TV series, Wiseguy and had several other roles on shows such as Baywatch, Boy Meets World, and a recurring role as Duke on Beverly Hills, 90210 as well as being a guest on the Super Dave Osborne Show. These roles would lead him into singing theme songs for TV shows, such as Empty Nest and King of Queens, as well as voice acting on Cartoon Network cartoons. He served as band leader on Rick Dees' short-lived late night talk show Into the Night on ABC in the early 1990s.
During that period, Vera co-produced three Lou Rawls albums with his friend, Michael Cuscuna, for Blue Note Records, including At Last, which reached number 1 on the Billboard jazz chart. Vera also produced Rawls's final album, Rawls Sings Sinatra, which remained on the jazz chart for over six months. Rawls recorded seven of Vera's songs, including "If I Were A Magician" (1989) and "You Can't Go Home." In 1990, Vera's tune, "Papa Come Quick (Jody & Chico)," was included on Bonnie Raitt's album, Luck Of The Draw. He also recorded in a duo with Nona Hendryx on the 1992 album You Have To Cry Some Time.
Currently the Beaters are still playing the California club scene, and Vera continues his work as a music historian. He has helped produce, archive, and write liner notes for over 200 reissue albums and sets, from artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Louis Prima, amongst others.
Vera has been the voice for AM/PM Mini Mart commercials for the last 14 years and is one of the top voice-over artists in Los Angeles. His song, "At This Moment" was included on Michael Bublé's number one album, Crazy Love. Vera's Hopeless Romantic: The Best Of Billy Vera & The Beaters, was issued on Shout Factory Records, and The Billy Vera Story was released on Rock Beat Records. In 2013, Vera released Billy Vera: Big Band Jazz, a tribute to the black songwriters of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. It was released on Robo Records, and Vera appeared with his band in Hollywood and at jazz festivals.
Vera also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the corner of Vine Street and Yucca Street, right in front of the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, California. He won a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes for the Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles box set.
Billy Vera & Judy Clay
|1968||"Country Girl - City Man"
Billy Vera & Judy Clay
|"With Pen In Hand"||43||-||-|
|1981||"I Can Take Care of Myself"
Billy & The Beaters
|"At This Moment"
Billy & The Beaters
|1986||"At This Moment"
Billy Vera & The Beaters (reissue)
|1987||"She Ain't Johnnie"||-||-||93|
- Storybook Children (with Judy Clay, Atlantic, 1968)
- With Pen In Hand (Atlantic, 1968)
- Billy & the Beaters (Alfa, 1981)
- Billy Vera (Alfa, 1982)
- The Billy Vera Album (Macola, 1987)
- Retro Nuevo (Billy & the Beaters, Capitol, 1988)
- You Have To Cry Sometime (with Nona Hendryx, Shanachie, 1992)
- Out of the Darkness (Unidisc, 1994)
- Oh What a Night (Billy & the Beaters, Pool Party, 1996)
- Something Like Nothing Before (Classic World Productions, 2002)
- Copyright Encyclopedia, "If I don't think of you"
- Biography by Bill Dahl at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 23 October 2013
- Bishop, Pete (10 May 1981). "Zebop!' A Zinger". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- DeKnock, Jan (29 January 1987). "Billy Vera Beaters Hold Off Madonna". The Day (New London). Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- Haygood, Wil (7 January 2006). "Lou Rawls, The Voice Wrapped In Silk". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 743. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 461.
- Whitburn, Joel (1994). Top Country Singles 1944-1993. Record Research. p. 393.
- Billy Vera- self-titled album @Discogs.com Retrieved 11-24-2013.
- Billy Vera at the Internet Movie Database
- Billy Vera's website
- Billy Vera on MySpace
- interview on Just My Show