Bill Carter (musician)

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Bill Carter
Also known as Bill Carter & The Blame
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • Songwriter
  • Singer
Instruments
  • Guitar
  • Bass
  • Harmonica
Years active 1976-present
Labels Forty Below Records
Associated acts
Website www.billcarterandtheblame.com

Bill Carter is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame.[1] He is best known for co-writing "Crossfire" and "Willie The Wimp", recorded by Stevie Ray Vaughan; "Why Get Up?", recorded by The Fabulous Thunderbirds; and "Jacksboro Highway", recorded by John Mayall.[2][3] Carter's songs have been covered by other blues, country, and rock artists including Waylon Jennings, Robert Palmer, Ruth Brown, Stray Cats, and Counting Crows.[4]

Family[edit]

Bill Carter was born to Cash Carter, a US Navy Boatswains Mate and Francis Infantino, an Italian-American from Brooklyn. Though Carter was raised in Washington State where his father was stationed, his family roots trace back to Kentucky. Carter's paternal grandfather William Henry Carter is the first cousin of A.P. Carter, musician and founding member of The Carter Family.[5]

Career[edit]

Early Career[edit]

In 1976, Carter moved to Austin, Texas to pursue his music career. He soon met a University of Texas student from Oklahoma named Ruth Ellsworth while performing at the Inner Sanctum record store. Ellsworth would become his wife and writing partner.[6]

After hearing the Texas blues band The Fabulous Thunderbirds were heading into the studio, Carter and Ellsworth deliberately wrote songs to present to the band. One of these songs, "Why Get Up?" made it onto the album that would become Tuff Enuff. The couple was struggling financially to the point they were nearly evicted from their house just before General Mill's purchased the rights to use the song in a breakfast cereal commercial.[6]

Carter's solo record Stompin' Grounds was released in 1985 and featured Jimmie Vaughan on lead guitar. The song "Willie the Wimp" was inspired by an article Carter read in the Austin American-Statesman about the decadent funeral of Chicago pimp and drug dealer William "Wimp" Stokes Jr., complete with Stokes propped upright in a Cadillac shaped coffin with diamond rings on his fingers and $100 bills in his hands. "'We were reading the Austin American-Statesman over breakfast one morning, and your column about Willie the Wimp was in it,'" Carter recalled to journalist Bob Greene. "'I said to Ruth, 'This isn`t a column-it's a song. We drove to the studio, and in the two miles it took us to get there we put the column to music. Stevie's brother Jimmie was at the studio, and he called Stevie and told him about it. Stevie just loved that song. He performed it on stages all over the world. The audiences knew every word-and they would sing along with Stevie. Stevie would have this evil grin on his face as he sang it.'" A live recording of the song appeared the following year on the album Live Alive by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.[7][8][9]

Carter, Ellsworth, and Stevie Ray Vaughan's bandmates Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, and Reese Wynans came up with "Crossfire" while jamming together at Double Trouble's rehearsal space. The song was recorded for In Step, the fourth studio album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.[6] The album went on to win a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 1989, and "Crossfire" won Song of the Year at the Austin Music Awards.[10] In 2007, the writers of "Crossfire" were honored by BMI for more than one million aired performances of the song.[11]

Sony Music released and later shelved Carter's 1988 solo album Loaded Dice. The album was produced by Chuck Leavell and featured Stevie and Jimmie Vaughan on guitars.[12] The song, "Na Na Ne Na Nay" was re-released on Stevie Ray Vaughan's posthumous Solos, Sessions & Encores album, a compilation of recordings where Vaughan was either a guest or a sideman.[13]

P[edit]

Between 1993 and 1995, Carter was a member of the alternative rock band P, born out of a friendship between Carter, actor Johnny Depp, and Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes. The band performed at the Austin Music Awards and released a record on Capitol Records that featured contributions from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. The song "Michael Stipe" received airplay on alternative rock radio.[14][15]

West of Memphis: Voices For Justice[edit]

Bill and Ruth E. Carter began corresponding with the West Memphis Three's Damien Echols after seeing the Paradise Lost documentary film. Echols' wife Lorri Davis brought the Carters a gift of three paper roses made by Damien in prison and representing each of the West Memphis Three. In return, they wrote "Anything Made of Paper" for Echols, its title alluding to the fact, as a death row inmate, Echols could only send and receive gifts made of paper. The song was recorded with Johnny Depp on guitar for the soundtrack to West of Memphis, the documentary film written and directed by Amy Berg and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Carter performed the song, backed by a band that included Depp, on the Late Show with David Letterman in early 2013.[16][17][18][19]

Present[edit]

Carter performs off-and-on with a group of veteran Austin musicians that became known as The Blame. The group has at different times featured guitarists Charlie Sexton, Will Sexton, Denny Freeman, and David Holt; drummers Chris Layton and Dony Wynn; keyboardist Mike Thompson; and bassist Andy Salmon.[6]

In 2016, Carter released his ninth solo album, Innocent Victims & Evil Companions through Forty Below Records. Writing for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine characterized the album as a combination of two aesthetics, muscular roots-rock and dusty Americana poetry. "...the most impressive thing about Innocent Victims & Evil Companions is how Carter threads all these sounds and sensibilities to create something that's distinctively Texan and humanly idiosyncratic."[20]

Carter toured the following two years in support of Innocent Victims & Evil Companions and opened shows around the US and Canada for English blues musician and label mate John Mayall.[21]

On his 2017 full-length album, Bill Carter, Carter recorded solo acoustic versions of his best known songs that were covered by other artists. Peter Blackstock wrote in the Austin American-Statesman, "The arrangements mostly are stripped down to basics of acoustic guitar and vocals, with occasional accents of rhythm and harmonica. That puts the spotlight squarely on the songwriting, and the results are a compelling reminder that Carter is one of the best American-roots tunesmiths Austin has ever produced."[22][23]

Artistry[edit]

Carter cites Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and songwriter Ron Davies as early influences.[6]

Discography[edit]

As a Solo Artist[edit]

  • (1985) Stompin' Grounds (Crosscut Records)[24]
  • (1988) Loaded Dice (Sony)[25]
  • (1994) City of the Violet Crown[26]
  • (2011) Behind the Barn[27]
  • (2013) Unknown[28]
  • (2013) "Anything Made of Paper" West of Memphis Motion Picture Soundtrack[17]
  • (2016) Innocent Victims & Evil Companions (Forty Below Records)[29]
  • (2017) Bill Carter (Forty Below Records)[30]

As a Band Member[edit]

As a Songwriter[32][edit]

Title Composers Performer Album Year
"Why Get Up?" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth The Fabulous Thunderbirds Tuff Enuff 1986
Robert Palmer Drive 2003
Ronnie McDowell When a Man Loves a Woman 1992
Don Williams One Good Well 1989
"Willie The Wimp" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Live Alive 1986
From Dusk Till Dawn Motion Picture Soundtrack 1996
San Antonio Rose 2016
"Crossfire" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, Reese Wynans Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble In Step 1989
The Fire Meets The Fury: The Radio Broadcasts 1989 2012
"Na-Na-Ne-Na-Ney" Bill Carter Bill Carter and Stevie Ray Vaughan Solos, Sessions & Encores 2007
"Jacksboro Highway" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Gary Nicholson, Wally Wilson John Mayall's Bluesbreakers A Sense of Place 1990
John Mayall 70th Birthday Concert 2003
Waylon Jennings, Rob Roy Parnell Jacksboro Highway[33] 1999
"Richest Man"

also "Richest One"

Bill Carter Counting Crows[34]
Ruth Brown A Good Day for the Blues 1999
C.J. Chenier Too Much Fun 1995
Toni Price Swim Away 1993
Jennifer Goree Jennifer Goree 1996
Joanne Redding Running Kind 2000
Texas Tornados A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada 2015
"Lust 'N' Love" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Brian Setzer Stray Cats Choo Choo Hot Fish 1992
"One Rock at a Time" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Chris Layton, Gary Nicholson The Nighthawks Trouble 1991
Storyville Bluest Eyes 1994
"Trick Rider" Bill Carter, Terry McBride McBride & The Ride Sacred Ground 1992
"Can I Count on You" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Terry McBride McBride & The Ride Burnin' up the Road 1990
"Burnin' up the Road" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Terry McBride McBride & The Ride Burnin' up the Road
John Anderson 8 Seconds Motion Picture Soundtrack 1994
"Every Step of the Way" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Terry McBride McBride & The Ride Burnin' up the Road 1990
The Oak Ridge Boys Double Barrel Country 1999
"Pushin' Fire" Bill Carter, Omar Dykes Omar & The Howlers Courts of Lulu 1992
"Jumpin' the Gun" Bill Carter, Omar Dykes
"Life Is Just a Circle" Bill Carter, Omar Dykes Omar & The Howlers Muddy Springs Road 1995
"Red River" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Omar Dykes Omar & The Howlers World Wide Open 1996
"Enough is Enough" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Omar Dykes
"A Train Runnin'" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Christine Albert Christine Albert Underneath the Lone Star Sky 1995
"The Right Place" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Tony Villanueva The Derailers Full Western Dress 1999
"Someone Else's Problem" Bill Carter
"Longing" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth, Brian Hofeldt
"I Wouldn't Dare" Bill Carter, Ruth Ellsworth Vanessa Paradis Best of Vanessa Paradis 2009

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bill Carter & Ruth Ellsworth Carter - Winner - Austin Music Awards - 2012 - Hall of Fame - The Austin Chronicle". www.austinchronicle.com. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  2. ^ "10 Great Stevie Ray Vaughan Tributes". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Bill Carter, 'Unknown' no longer". Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Bill Carter | Songs | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  5. ^ "The Unknown Soldier". Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Watch Bill Carter & The Blame on KLRU". klru.org. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  7. ^ "Stompin' Ground - Bill Carter | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  8. ^ "Live Alive - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  9. ^ "Thanks, Stevie, For Playing Our Song". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  10. ^ "Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, "Crossfire" - Song of the Year - Austin Music Awards - 1989 - Best Texas Recordings - The Austin Chronicle". www.austinchronicle.com. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  11. ^ "Texas Songwriters Spotlighted at BMI". BMI.com. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  12. ^ "Loaded Dice - Bill Carter | Releases | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  13. ^ "Solos, Sessions & Encores - Stevie Ray Vaughan | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  14. ^ "P - P | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  15. ^ Punknews.org. "P (Gibby Haynes, Johnny Depp) album reissued". www.punknews.org. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  16. ^ Bill Carter (2013-02-24), [HD] Bill Carter and The Blame - Anything Made of Paper (Ft. Johnny Depp) David Letterman 2-21-13, retrieved 2017-11-28 
  17. ^ a b "West of Memphis: Voices for Justice [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  18. ^ "Bill Carter's new song 'Anything Made of Paper': Hear it here". EW.com. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  19. ^ "Johnny Depp Plays Guitar, Talks Falling Off a Horse". E! Online. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  20. ^ "Innocent Victims & Evil Companions - Bill Carter | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  21. ^ "John Mayall: Aladdin Theater Gig Review | Blues Rock Review". bluesrockreview.com. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  22. ^ "Forty Below Records | Los Angeles Based Indie Record Label | News : Bill Carter to Release Solo Acoustic Record October 6". fortybelowrecords.com. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  23. ^ "Fall music from Austin artists includes Willie Nelson & sons and more". mystatesman. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  24. ^ "Stompin' Ground - Bill Carter | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  25. ^ "Bill Carter (2) - Loaded Dice". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  26. ^ "Bill Carter (2) - City Of The Violet Crown". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  27. ^ "Behind The Barn, by Bill Carter". Bill Carter. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  28. ^ "Unknown, by Bill Carter". Bill Carter. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  29. ^ "Innocent Victims & Evil Companions - Bill Carter | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  30. ^ "Bill Carter - Bill Carter | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  31. ^ "Carter Doster Sexton, by Carter Doster Sexton". Bill Carter. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  32. ^ "Bill Carter | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  33. ^ Jacksboro Highway, 1999-11-01, retrieved 2017-12-03 
  34. ^ goodetyme (2010-11-20), The Richest Man - Counting Crows, retrieved 2017-12-03