Bill Bentley (record producer)

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Bill Bentley
Born (1950-08-24) August 24, 1950 (age 73)
Occupation(s)Music industry executive, journalist
Years active1970s-present
Notable workTribute albums including Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye, More Oar, and Keep Your Soul

Bill Bentley (born August 24, 1950, Houston, Texas, United States)[1] is an American music industry executive, particularly notable for having produced tribute albums of the music of significant cult artists Roky Erickson (1990), Skip Spence (1999), Doug Sahm (2009) and Lou Reed (to be released in 2024), in addition to other recording projects.

Early life[edit]

Bill Bentley was born in Houston, Texas in 1950 and attended Lamar High School. He commenced playing drums at an early age. His music career started at the age of fifteen, when he interned at the KYOK-AM[2] radio station in Houston.[3] While in high school, he formed a band called The Aggregation, the local rivals of which were The Coachmen, from neighbouring Lee High School and featuring guitarist Billy Gibbons, later of ZZ Top.[4] Bentley grew up in the newspaper business; his father, Bud Bentley, was a cartoonist and later the art director at the Houston Post.[1][5]

Bentley attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and later the University of Texas at Austin, where he joined a band of English majors called The Bizarros. The band was notable for including Velvet Underground founding member Sterling Morrison.[1][6] Bentley had also developed an admiration for the 13th Floor Elevators during the Sixties, following the band extensively to dozens of Houston concerts starting at La Maison in 1965 on through to their last performances at Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine in 1968.



Bentley had developed typesetting skills, and was able to use these as an entry to a position in 1974 as the music editor at the Austin Sun bi-weekly newspaper.[1] In 1978, Bentley became the in-house publicist for KLRN-TV in Austin, as well as for the stations' long-running television show Austin City Limits.

In 1980, he became the music editor at the L.A. Weekly, being one of six people forming the core of the first editorial staff at that paper.[7]

Music industry[edit]

Entering the record business, Bentley became the director of publicity at Slash Records and rose to become a senior vice president of media relations at Warner Bros. Records. In his role as a publicist, he has worked with such artists as Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, The Blasters, Green Day, X, Lou Reed, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and R.E.M. As a record company executive, he has provided guidance to the careers of such artists as Doug Sahm, ZZ Top and Wilco.[1] In addition, throughout a career in music that spans over forty years, he has been a writer of liner notes to numerous record releases.[8][9]

In 1990, upon learning of the financial distress of Roky Erickson, founder of the 13th Floor Elevators, Bentley organized a tribute album for him, for the purpose of raising funds. The result was Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, released on Sire Records, part of the Warner Bros. Records group with which Bentley was then associated. Similarly, in 1999, when Bentley learned that Moby Grape co-founder Skip Spence was seriously ill with cancer and facing mounting medical bills, Bentley again organized a tribute album: More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album, released on Birdman Records.[10] In 1992, Bentley was instrumental in restarting the career of Jimmy Scott, acting as executive producer and writing the liner notes for Scott's comeback album, All The Way, which was also released on Sire Records.

Bentley is also notable for his efforts to enhance public appreciation of the contributions of particular artists. For example, he is the executive producer of a retrospective Roky Erickson compilation, I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology (Shout! Factory, 2005)[11] and a tribute album to Doug Sahm, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard, 2009), recorded and released nearly ten years after Sahm's death. Similarly, Bentley was associated with the 1992 compilation of O.V. Wright material, Soul of O.V. Wright, released 12 years after Wright's death, at the age of 41.[12]

Bentley was with Warner Bros. Records from 1986 to 2006, at which point he became the personal public relations representative of Neil Young,[13] as well as the chief executive officer of Sonic Boomers Inc.,[14] an internet-based music news and information site, modeled "as something like Pitchfork Media for the older set, or maybe something like No Depression on the Web."[4][15] He also became the A & R Director at Vanguard Records, where his first signing was Merle Haggard.[3] He joined Concord Records's A&R department in 2015, and was A&R director for Alejandro Escovedo's Burn Something Beautiful release. He also co-produced the 6-CD set Otis Redding Live at the Whisky a Go Go: The Complete Recordings. Bentley remains a longtime contributor of music reviews and music articles to the Austin Chronicle.[16] and writes the monthly reviews column "Bentley's Bandstand" at

Bentley's first book, Smithsonian Rock & Roll: Live and Unseen, was published by Smithsonian Books in October 2017. He is presently writing for Neil Young Archives, and started Water Bros. Films in 2019. The company is developing a documentary on longtime music manager Elliot Roberts (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Geffen-Roberts Management, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and others), who died in 2019. Bentley produced a second tribute album for the late singer Roky Erickson, titled May the Circle Remain Unbroken, released by Light in the Attic Records July 2021, and is presently producing a tribute album to Lou Reed titled The Power of the Heart, to be released by Light in the Attic Records April 20, 2024.


Vanguard Records:

  • 2009 Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm Various Artists, Executive Producer/Liner notes
  • 2010 The Gathering Diane Schuur, A&R
  • 2010 I Am What I Am Merle Haggard, A&R
  • 2011 Old Mad Joy The Gourds, A&R
  • 2011 Beyond the Sun Chris Isaak, A&R
  • 2011 Working in Tennessee Merle Haggard, A&R
  • 2013 Wrote a Song for Everyone John Fogerty, A&R
  • 2013 Carly Ritter Carly Ritter, A&R
  • 2014 Lou Joseph Arthur, Executive Producer
  • 2014 Rock & Roll Time Jerry Lee Lewis, A&R
  • 2015 Soul Food The Word, A&R
  • 2015 First Comes the Night Chris Isaak, A&R

Concord Music:

  • 2016 Burn Something Beautiful Alejandro Escovedo, A&R (Fantasy Records)
  • 2016 Live at the Whisky a Go Go: The Complete Recordings Otis Redding, Co-Producer (Stax Records)

Light in the Attic Records:

  • 2021 May the Circle Remain Unbroken: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, Album Producer. Featuring Billy F Gibbons, Lucinda Williams, Charlie Sexton & Alison Mosshart, Chelsea Wolfe, Ty Segall, Mark Lanegan & Lynn Castle, Jeff Tweedy, Margo Price, Neko Case, Brogan Bentley, The Black Angels and Gary Clark Jr. & Eve Monsees. (July 17, 2021)
  • 2024 The Power of the Heart: A Tribute to Lou Reed, Album Producer. Featuring Keith Richards, Maxim Ludwig & Angel Olsen, Rufus Wainwright, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bobby Rush, Rickie Lee Jones The Afghan Whigs, Mary Gauthier, Lucinda Williams, Automatic, Rosanne Cash, Brogan Bentley (CD and Digital).

Smithsonian Books:

  • 2017 Smithsonian Rock & Roll: Live and Unseen by Bill Bentley (October 24, 2017)


  1. ^ a b c d e Moser, Margaret (December 17, 1999). "Back Door Man: The Man Behind More Oar, Bill Bentley". Austin Chronicle.
  2. ^ Currently a gospel music station, known as "AMen Radio"; see KYOK.
  3. ^ a b SXSW, Bill Bentley Profile[permanent dead link], "Making Something Outta Nothing" session, SXSW, March 19, 2010; Haggard's debut on Vanguard became his highest-charting record in twenty-five years: see Deborah Evans Price, Merle Haggard scores highest solo bow in 25 years. Reuters, May 7, 2010; When Concord Music Group purchased Vanguard Records, Bentley became senior director of A&R at Concord.
  4. ^ a b John Nova Lomax, Bill Bentley goes online with Sonic Boomers. Houston Press, June 19, 2008;
  5. ^ Albert Franklin Bentley III, professionally known as "Bud" Bentley (1913–2006) spent nearly forty years at the Houston Post, retiring in 1983. He was a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and a founding member of the Press Club of Houston. See Obituary of Albert Franklin Bentley III, originally published December 28, 2006 in the Houston Chronicle, as reprinted in "Toasted Posties: Former Employees of the Houston Post, which died a cruel death in April of 1995";
  6. ^ At the time, Morrison was a doctoral student in medieval studies. His last engagement with the Velvet Underground was in 1971 in Houston, after which Morrison accompanied the band to the airport and advised them, as they were departing, that he was leaving the band permanently and remaining in Houston. See Sterling Morrison.
  7. ^ Levin, Jay (December 4, 2008). "L.A. Weekly Founder Jay Levin on the vision that started it all". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Bill Bentley Recording Credit Profile;
  9. ^ a b An example of Bentley's liner notes is found here: Liner Notes for Fishing with Charlie and Other Selected Readings;
  10. ^ Founded by former Warner Bros. Records A&R Vice-President David Katznelson, who also acted as Executive Producer of the Spence tribute. Katznelson and Bentley had worked together at Warner Bros. Records, with Katznelson departing in 2000 and Bentley in 2006. Katznelson and Bentley worked together on various projects, including the 2009 tribute to Doug Sahm, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm, where both acted as two of four co-producers. In addition, the Sahm tribute was released on Vanguard Records, which Bentley had recently joined as A&R Director and where fellow co-producer Stephen Brower was Vice-President of Marketing and A&R Development.
  11. ^ According to reviewer Mark Deming, "Erickson's body of recorded work has long merited an intelligently assembled critical overview, and thankfully Bill Bentley, a longtime Erickson partisan who assembled the 1990 multi-artist compilation Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, has created just such an album with I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology. See Mark Deming, Review of I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology;
  12. ^ a b Houston-based Wright is described as "one of the most underrated deep soul singers of his era". See Stewart Mason, Review of Soul of O.V. Wright; Wright died of a heart attack in 1980, at the age of forty-one; see O.V. Wright.
  13. ^ See, for example, Neil Young Chrome Dreams Continental Tour Begins October 18. News Release, September 10, 2007; Bentley is listed as the contact person, via Lookout Management.
  14. ^ Sgt. Fitch: The Legacy of Sarg Records, Biography of Bill Bentley Archived October 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Press kit;
  15. ^ Bill Bentley Linkedin Profile;; retrieved 10-07-08.
  16. ^ See, for example, "Beacon Blues: Jimmie Vaughan's lifelong song". Austin Chronicle, July 16, 2010;
  17. ^ Re-released on CD, Rhino Records, 1998. See Electromagnets album particulars;
  18. ^ An Austin-based fusion band. See Eric Johnson.
  19. ^ Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, Mighty lemon drops, James, The Smiths, Figures on a Beach, Wild Swans, Ice-T, The Ramones, The Replacements, Throwing Muses, Aztec Camera, Casual Gods and Erasure. Described as "...offer(ing) a wealth of new wave rarities that significantly transcends its original purpose. Released in 1987, Just Say Yes: Sire CD Sampler has become a time machine, delivering glimpses of cutting-edge artists before they became mainstream stars and young bands that should've but never fulfilled their commercial potential." See Michael Sutton, Review of Just Say Yes: Sire's Winter CD Music Sampler;
  20. ^ Electronic rock; selections by Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Harold Budd, Hugo Largo and Laraaji; see Discogs Particulars;
  21. ^ A record label owned by Brian Eno.
  22. ^ Originally issued 1980 by Stiff Records; reissued on Tornado Records 1989 and 2005. See Release particulars of Joe "King" Carrasco and the Crowns; Tornado Records, dedicated to the release of Texas music, "made by (or influenced by) Texas", is part of the Birdman Recording Group, which includes Birdman Records; see About The Birdman Recording Group, Inc.;
  23. ^ Co-produced by King Cotton and John "Juke" Logan, the album was intended as an introduction to various Los Angeles blues musicians, such as Chuck E. Weiss, Jimmie Wood, Billy Sheets and Top Jimmy. See John Dougan, Review of L.A. Ya Ya;
  24. ^ Live recording, originally released on VHS by Sire/Warner Bros./Reprise Video. Released on DVD in 2005 by Rhino. Released as CD/DVD by WEA International in 2008. See Release history of Velvet Redux;
  25. ^ Subtitled "Antone's Bringing You The Best in Blues", the album contained selections by Luther Tucker, Lavelle White, Candye Kane, Doyle Bramhall, Kim Wilson, Sue Foley, Snooky Pryor, Doug Sahm and Lewis Cowdrey. See Can't Live Without It performance credits;
  26. ^ Appears to be a promotional CD, containing some of the Ry Cooder film music later released as Music by Ry Cooder (1995). See Words + Music particulars and Music by Ry Cooder particulars;
  27. ^ Latimore, Shirley Brown, Artie White, Bobby Blue Bland, Z.Z. Hill and Dorothy Moore, Beat Daddys, Denise LaSalle, Little Milton, Johnnie Taylor, Mike Griffin and Poonanny. See Z Zelebration performer credits;
  28. ^ Four mixes of "Little Bit Is Better Than Nada", from 4 Aces, plus two other songs. See content particulars;
  29. ^ David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, Sheryl Crow, Lou Reed, Dave Matthews, Aretha Franklin, Paula Cole, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, Al Green and Lyle Lovett, The Chieftains, Jewel and Flea, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, R.E.M., Patti Smith. Reissued 2005 (Reprise). See Album Particulars and Release History;
  30. ^ A posthumous release of Stevie Ray Vaughan slow blues material, some previously unreleased. See Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Review of Blues at Sunrise;
  31. ^ A box set of Vaughan material, containing three CDs and one DVD, two thirds of which was previously unreleased. See Richie Unterberger, Review of SRV;
  32. ^ Doug Wainoris, G.E. Smith, T-Bone Walk, Steven Goulding, Pete Donnelly, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Sleepy LaBeef, C.J. Chenier, Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown, Marshall Crenshaw, Steve Holley, Cranston Clements, Andrea Re, Christine Ohlman, Charlie Musselwhite, Levon Helm, Guy Davis, Dr. Friendly, Joe Walker and Elvis Costello.
  33. ^ Described as "Inspired by ZZ Top's classic boogie rock tribute to border radio, "Heard It on the X"...(Heard It on the X is) a salute to the heyday of AM radio on the Texas/Mexico border, when rock & roll, blues, country, jazz, Western swing, and mariachi mixed freely." See Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Review of Heard It on the X;
  34. ^ A project-based musical collective, with a changing membership, depending on the project, as assembled by manager and co-producer Dan Goodman. On this album, Goodman and co-producer Rick Clark used two different core bands: Calexico and a group featuring Charlie Sexton and drummer Hunt Sales, one of the founding members of the David Bowie-led Tin Machine. Sexton was a co-producer of the album, with Clark and Goodman. A number of Texas-referenced singers then were engaged for the project, including Raul Malo, Joe Ely, Rick Trevino, Ruben Ramos, Freddy Fender, John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, Rodney Crowell and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. See Los Super Seven and Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Review of Heard It on the X;
  35. ^ New Orleans-based pianist and vocalist.
  36. ^ Originally recorded in 1969, in the home of Brian Wilson, and co-produced by Wilson, but not released until 2008. Kalinich reciting poetry against a musical background by Brian Wilson and then wife Marilyn. An album of "music and psych-poetry"; see Record Summary at Light In The Attic Records;