Bill Fay

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For the Irish stage actor, see William Fay.
Bill Fay
Bill Fay By Erica Parrott 2012.jpg
Pen and ink portrait of Fay.
Background information
Birth name William Fay
Origin London
Years active 1967–1971, 2010–present
Labels Deram, Durtro, Dead Oceans, Wooden Hill, Coptic Cat

William "Bill" Fay is an English singer, pianist and songwriter whose early releases were made on the Deram label in 1967. Following the release of his second album in 1971, Fay was dropped by the label. His work enjoyed a growing cult status in the 1990s, and his older works were re-issued in 1998 and 2004/2005. Fay's 2012 album, Life Is People, was his first album of all-new material since 1971. His next album, Who Is The Sender was released on 27 April 2015.


Early career[edit]

Fay was born in north London, where he still lives.[1]

His first single, "Some Good Advice" / "Screams in the Ears", was issued on the Deram label in 1967, and was followed by two albums, Bill Fay in 1970 and Time of the Last Persecution in 1971.[2] The recordings did not sell well, and Fay was dropped from Deram soon after the release of his second album.[citation needed] They were re-issued in 1998,[3] and then again in 2005.[4]

Despite returning to the recording studio in the late 1970s, the follow-up to Time of the Last Persecution was not released until January 2005,[5] following the reissues of his earlier works.

Cult-status and come-back[edit]

Bill Fay's work enjoyed a growing cult status in the 1990s.[6] His first two albums were re-issued in 1998,[3] an event which Bill Fay described in 2012 as follows:

Up until 1998, when some people reissued my albums, as far as I was concerned, I was gone, deleted. No one was listening. But then I got the shock that people remembered my music. I was doing some gardening, and listening to some of my songs on cassette, and a part of me thought they were quite good. I thought, "Maybe somebody will hear them someday." That same evening, 14 years ago, I got a call from a music writer telling me that my two albums were being reissued. A shock is not gonna get much bigger than that, David [...] It was astonishing to me. I won't ever really be able to believe that it happened. That's how I feel about it. I had come to terms with the fact that I was deleted, but that I had always kept writing songs anyway and that was good enough.[3]

In 2004, the British label Wooden Hill released a collection of demos recorded between 1966 and 1970 entitled From the Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock. In 2005 his late 1970s recordings were released January 2005. Entitled Tomorrow, Tomorrow & Tomorrow, it was credited to the Bill Fay Group and was released on the Durtro Jnana label.[5]

The compilation album Still Some Light appeared on the Coptic Cat label in 2010,[7] a double CD containing a mix of older material and newer, home-recorded songs.[8]

Life is People, released 21 August 2012 on Dead Oceans, is his first new studio LP in over 40 years.[9]

A new album by Bill Fay was released in April 2015, titled Who Is The Sender. The second album track, "War Machine", came out as a single in February 2015.[10]

Covers and appreciation[edit]

The American band Wilco has played Fay's song "Be Not So Fearful" in live performances and the band's singer, Jeff Tweedy, can be heard singing it in the documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco. Fay has joined the band and Tweedy onstage for the rendition of the song at shows at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2007, and at the Union Chapel, Islington in 2010 respectively, both in London.[11]

The English singer-songwriter and pianist John Howard recorded a cover version of the song "Be Not So Fearful" for his E.P. Songs for the Lost and Found (2008). The song "Be Not So Fearful" was also covered by Ed Harcourt on the benefit compilation album Songs to Save a Life - In Aid of Samaritans (2011).

A cover version of Fay's "Pictures of Adolf Again", by producer and musician Jim O'Rourke and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, can be heard in the film from Kōji Wakamatsu, United Red Army.[citation needed] The title track of "Time of the Last Persecution" became a live standard of the British Apocalyptic folk group, Current 93.[citation needed]

The band Okkervil River covered Fay's song "Plan D" on their Golden Opportunities 2 EP in 2011.

The American band The War on Drugs covered Fay's song "I Hear You Calling" at shows throughout 2014.

His song "Be not so Fearful" got a cover by A.C. Newman in 2014, and was used in the episode "Us" of The Walking Dead.[12][13]



Compilation albums[edit]

  • From the Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock (recorded 1966-1970; Wooden Hill, 2004)
  • Still Some Light (CD, recorded 1970-71; Coptic Cat, 2010)


External links[edit]

Fansite & info