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Billy Mack "Bill" Ham (February 4, 1937 – June 20, 2016) was an American music impresario, best known as the manager, producer, and image-maker for the blues-rock band ZZ Top. Ham also gained prominence in the country music world by discovering and managing multi-platinum singer-songwriter Clint Black and founding some of the most successful country music publishing companies. For several years in the 1990s, Ham's companies published a majority of the top-10 country music singles.
The band which eventually became ZZ Top started as the "Moving Sidewalks." When Tom Moore and Don Summers joined, Dan Mitchell and Billy Gibbons changed the name to ZZ Top. Lanier Greig was added and the original ZZ Top was formed. Later, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard replaced the earlier members and the band achieved success as a trio consisting of Gibbons, Hill and Beard.
Ham was working as a record promotion man for H. W. Daily Distributing when he saw the Sidewalks perform at a Doors concert in Houston and came backstage to compliment the band. Later when the Sidewalks decided to fire their manager, Mitchell asked Ham if he would be interested in serving in that capacity.
Ham was instrumental to ZZ Top's success, co-writing songs, producing their hit albums, and constructing their image, and continuing as the band's manager up to and including 1996's Rhythmeen album and tour. Ham also recruited Texas guitarist and singer/songwriter Jay Boy Adams into the ZZ Top family. Adams was the second artist produced and managed by Ham. Adams would tour extensively with ZZ Top throughout the seventies and early eighties and served as the band's first regular support act and roadie. Austin, Texas guitarist Van Wilks was also a part of Bill Ham's Lone Wolf Productions throughout the years and toured with ZZ Top on many occasions. Austin, Texas guitarist and music producer Jay Aaron was also a part of Bill Ham's Lone Wolf Productions, and recorded a solo album in 1990 for Warner Bros. Records, with Bill Ham as executive producer. Years earlier Jay Aaron produced and engineered Eric Johnson's Seven Worlds album, also with Bill Ham as executive producer.
His wife Cecile was murdered in 1991. Her killer, Spencer Goodman, was apprehended about five weeks later and executed by the State of Texas by lethal injection in 2000.
- Buckley, Peter (2003-10-28). The rough guide to rock. Rough Guides. pp. 1223–. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "Spencer Corey Goodman Scheduled To Be Executed". Texas Attorney General. www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- Bill Ham, longtime manager of ZZ Top, dies at 79
- Former ZZ Top Manager Bill Ham Dead at 79