Chuck Billy (vocalist)

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Chuck Billy
Testament, Skogsröjet 2012 1.jpg
With Testament at Skogsröjet festival, Rejmyre, Sweden, 2012
Background information
Birth name Charles Billy
Born (1962-06-23) June 23, 1962 (age 54)
Alameda County, California
Genres Thrash metal, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboard, percussion
Years active 1984–present
Associated acts Testament, Dublin Death Patrol, Metal Allegiance

Charles "Chuck" Billy (born June 23, 1962) is an American vocalist, who is best known as the vocalist for the thrash metal band Testament.


Billy with Testament

Billy joined the band Legacy in 1986, replacing vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza who would later join Exodus. In 1987, Legacy changed its name to Testament and released their first album entitled The Legacy. The album featured one song written by Billy entitled "Do or Die".

Although Testament's lineup has changed over the years, Billy has remained one of the two constant members of the band along with guitarist Eric Peterson. His vocal style has changed considerably over the years from a clear, high pitched thrash style to a lower register approaching a death grunt. Since the Low album he has mixed both styles, sometimes within the same song.[1]

Other work[edit]

Prior to Legacy and Testament, Billy was the guitarist of a local metal band called Guilt. No records by the band exist, but they recorded one demo in 1984.[2]

Around 1996, Billy auditioned for lead vocals with Sepultura as the replacement for Max Cavalera, but lost that position to Derrick Green.[3][4]

Chuck has also appeared on the solo projects of James Murphy, playing on both albums as a guest musician. He also has sung lead vocals for Exodus during at least one concert recently (October 28, 2004 at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, opening for Megadeth).

In 2006, Chuck Billy provided vocals on the Sadus song "Crazy" and, along with several other musicians from other bands, did a cover of Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark" for their Numbers from the Beast tribute album. On Light This City's 2008 release, Stormchaser, Chuck Billy provides vocals on the song "Firehaven."

Chuck Billy also joined with musicians including Steve Souza, Greg Bustamante, Steve Robello, Chuck's brothers Eddie and Andy Billy, Dan Cunningham & Willy Lange to form the band Dublin Death Patrol.

In 2008, Chuck Billy did the vocals for Silent Night on the album of Christmas carols We Wish You a Metal Christmas and Headbanging New Year with the likes of Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wyse and John Tempesta.

In 2009, Chuck Billy appears on the song Live My Dream from the band Susperia's album Attitude.

For the live presentation of the album Ziltoid the Omniscient by Devin Townsend, he provided the voice of the Planet Smasher on the track of the same name. This happened at Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2010 in Helsinki.

In 2014, Chuck Billy provided guest vocals on the song "Trend Killer" on Swedish melodeath band The Haunted's album Exit Wounds.

In 2014, Chuck Billy appeared on fellow Thrash band Exodus's new album Blood In, Blood Out and provided guest vocals on the track "BTK."

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2013, California State Assemblyman Jim Frazier honored Billy on the State Assembly floor for his positive influence on the Native American community.[5]

Billy became the first Native American to be permanently featured in the memorabilia display at the Hard Rock Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2013. He is also recognized in the National Museum of the American Indian exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution titled, "Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture".[6]

Personal life[edit]

Billy was born to a Native American father and a Mexican mother.[7] He is of the Pomo Native Americans,[8] an indigenous people of Northern California, and is proud of his Native American heritage, sometimes giving a shoutout to his "Native brothers and sisters" in the audience. The song "Trail of Tears" is a tribute to his heritage, as are "Allegiance" and "Native Blood". In 2010, Chuck Billy was among those recognized in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian exhibit Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture, which was on display through January 2, 2011.[9] Billy is first cousins with Stephen Carpenter, co-founder and lead guitarist of alternative metal band Deftones.

In 2001, Chuck Billy was diagnosed with germ cell seminoma; his was a rare medical situation since this type of cancer usually manifests in men's testicular region, while in Billy's case the tumor appeared in the chest region near his heart. In August 2001, friends organized the Thrash of the Titans benefit concert, held to raise money for Billy' medical expenses.[10] Following chemotherapy, he has since been given a clean bill of health and continued his work with Testament.


External links[edit]