Billy Williams (music hall performer)
Richard Isaac Banks (March 3, 1878 – March 13, 1915), who changed his name to Billy Williams after leaving his birthplace of Australia, was a popular vaudeville and music hall entertainer of his era. (see B.Rust: Music Hall On Record, Gramophone 1979 p. 282 et seq.) Over 500 recordings sold in their thousands long after his early death in 1915.
Born in Melbourne, Williams tried a number of jobs before embarking on an entertainment career which led him to come to England in 1899. He became a popular entertainer in the music halls singing what were known as chorus-songs – he also appeared in pantomime.
In 1910, he returned for an extended tour of his native Australia where he was greeted with wild enthusiasm. Returning to England later in that year, he continued his business relationship with songwriter Fred Godfrey. The two had what might be described as a "song factory" and worked in partnership (although it is believed that Godfrey did all of the song writing).
The year 1912 seemed to be the zenith of Williams' career – he appeared in the first Royal Command Performance of that year and achieved glowing reviews in the national press. Sadly this fame was not to last as Williams became ill in late 1914 and died in Hove near Brighton in March 1915, the proximate cause being septic prostatitis and consequent complications after an operation for that condition, but rumoured ultimately to be connected with "previous social excesses." (Myerscough, book to CD set, 2001)
Personal life and death
In Ever Loving Memory of William Holt Williams - "Billy Williams" whom God called 13 March 1915 aged 37 years. Farewell Fair Heart until we Meet Again - WIFE. Also of RICHARD SHAW father of the above whom God called 6 August 1914 aged 63 years.
Billy was also the brother of Richard and Rowley Banks, two of Australia's earliest professional golfers, who were also foundation members of the Australian Professional Golfers Association, founded in 1911.
Williams had married Amy Robinson in 1901 and she survived her husband by some 61 years.
Billy and Amy Williams produced four living children: Reginald, William, Margaret and Cathleen, who after his death, moved with Amy to Australia to live out their lives.
Williams is survived by his grandson Richard John Williams and great grandson Richard Guy Williams who both reside in Sydney, Australia.
- "Music Hall and Variety Artistes Burial Places: Billy Williams". Retrieved 20 March 2009.
- National Film Sound Archive holds many recordings by Billy Williams
- Eight digitally restored Billy Williams recordings