Chuck Billy (vocalist)
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|Birth name||Charles Billy|
June 23, 1962|
Alameda County, California
|Genres||Thrash metal, heavy metal|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboard, percussion|
|Associated acts||Testament, Dublin Death Patrol, Metal Allegiance|
Billy joined Legacy in 1986, replacing vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza who would later join Exodus. After Legacy changed its name to Testament, the band released their debut album The Legacy in 1987, which featured one song written by Billy entitled "Do or Die". Testament has since released ten more studio albums, and toured consistently, including sharing the stage with notable bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus, Overkill, Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera, White Zombie, Primus, D.R.I. and Pro-Pain.
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. They are the only two band members to appear on every album. 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.
Prior to Legacy and Testament, Billy was the vocalist for a local metal band called Guilt which also featured future Hericane Alice and Medicine Wheel guitarist Danny Gill. No records by the band exist but they recorded one demo in 1984 and contributed the song "Down to the City" to the U.S. Metal Vol. IV compilation on Shrapnel Records.
Billy 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, 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, he provides vocals on the song "Firehaven."
In 2008, 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.
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, Billy provided guest vocals on the song "Trend Killer" on Swedish melodeath band The Haunted's album Exit Wounds.
Awards and honors
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".
Billy was born to a Native American father and a Mexican mother. He is of the Pomo Native Americans, 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. Billy is first cousins with Stephen Carpenter, co-founder and lead guitarist of alternative metal band Deftones.
In 2001, 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's medical expenses. Following chemotherapy, he has since been given a clean bill of health and continued his work with Testament.
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- "ANDREAS KISSER Says CHUCK BILLY's SEPULTURA Audition Tape Was 'Interesting'". Blabbermouth.net. December 15, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
- "ANDREAS KISSER Recalls CHUCK BILLY's SEPULTURA Audition: 'He Did A Great Job' (Audio)". Blabbermouth.net. August 3, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
- "NEWS TESTAMENT: CHUCK BILLY HONORED BY CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY!". Nuclear Blast America. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "ASSEMBLYMAN JIM FRAZIER HONORS ANTIOCH'S CHUCK BILLY OF THRASH METAL BAND TESTAMENT". Antioch Herald. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Testament's Chuck Billy Opens Up About His Native American Upbringing". Noisecreep. January 12, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
- Atkinson, Peter (February 13, 2007). "Testament Frontman Is Hoping To Record 'Really Brutal' New Album". Blabbermouth. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- "Testament Frontman Featured in Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian Exhibition". Blabbermouth. August 20, 2010. Archived from the original on August 28, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
- "Testament Singer Talks About Beating Cancer". Blabbermouth. May 2, 2008. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- National Museum of the American Indian’s Newest Exhibition “Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture”