Billy Reid (British songwriter)
William Gordon "Billy" Reid (19 September 1902 – 12 December 1974) was a United Kingdom orchestra leader, songwriter, pianist and an accordionist. He was one of the biggest show business names of his generation during the 1930s to 1950s in the UK and beyond.
Reid was one of the most famous bandleaders in London in the 1930s and a top recording star for Decca. No popular music radio show would have been complete without including a Billy Reid song. His songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Vera Lynn, the Ink Spots, Peggy Lee, Al Martino and Louis Armstrong. He topped the bill all over the country (UK), especially with Dorothy Squires (see below) and he was the first British songwriter to top the US charts, following that first hit by two more US No. 1s. He held that record until the Beatles broke it in the 1960s and his career died with the Beatles, etc., in the Sixties. From massive star and a millionaire songwriter, by 1974, his public had forgotten him and he died penniless, bankrupt, in obscurity from acute kidney disease.
When the Welsh vocalist Dorothy Squires joined his band, he took it as an opportunity to write songs especially for her, many of them, such as "The Gypsy," "A Tree in the Meadow," and "I'm Walking Behind You," became hits in the United States for other vocalists (see above). This duo had their first hit, 'Coming Home', at the end of the Second World War, a song also recorded by Vera Lynn.
He formed a number of accordion bands, primarily The London Piano-Accordion Band.
Reid married Jane Gordon, a singer, his second wife and their son, a.k.a. Billy Reid born 1957 was also a singer. Billy Reid (father) was Southampton (UK) born and he and his second wife moved to the Isle of Wight (UK). Both Billy and his son are survived by Jane, still living on the Isle of Wight (UK).
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