|Bonnie 'Prince' Billy|
Will Oldham, June 6, 2009
|Birth name||William Oldham|
|Also known as||Palace Brothers
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
December 24, 1970 |
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Origin||Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.|
|Labels||Drag City, Domino, Spunk|
|Associated acts||Dawn McCarthy, The Cairo Gang, Matt Sweeney, Mick Turner, Tortoise, Trembling Bells, Harem Scarem, The Picket Line, Alex Neilson, Björk|
Will Oldham (born December 24, 1970), better known by the stage name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, is an American singer-songwriter and actor. From 1993 to 1997, he performed and recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. After releasing material under his own name, he adopted the "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" moniker for the majority of his output since 1998.
Oldham was born on December 24, 1970, in Louisville, Kentucky. Oldham lived in Louisville until he graduated from the J. Graham Brown School in 1988. After graduating from high school, Oldham briefly attended Brown University amidst his career in music and film.
Oldham is known for his "do-it-yourself punk aesthetic and blunt honesty," and his music has been likened to Americana, folk, roots, country, punk, and indie rock. He has been called an "Appalachian post-punk solipsist", with a voice that has been described as "a fragile sort-of warble frittering around haunted melodies in the American folk or country tradition."
Will Oldham first performed and recorded under various permutations of the Palace name, including Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, Palace Music, and simply Palace. Regarding the name changes during this period (1993–1997), Oldham said:
|“||Well, I guess the idea is that when you have a name of a group or an artist, then you expect that the next record, if it has the same name, should be the same group of people playing on it. And I just thought we were making a different kind of record each time, with different people, and different themes, and different sounds. So I thought it was important to call it something different so that people would be aware of the differences.||”|
Beginning in 1998, Oldham has primarily used the moniker Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, which draws inspiration from several sources:
|“||Yeah, the name has so many different references that it could almost have a life of its own. Bonnie Prince Charlie has such a beautiful ring to it, and I was very conscious of appropriating that mellifluous sound. And I was also thinking about the name Nat King Cole. But it wasn't until later, and this may have been subconscious, that I remembered that Billy the Kid was William Bonney or Billy Bonney.||”|
Oldham has explained that "the primary purpose of the pseudonym is to allow both the audience and the performer to have a relationship with the performer that is valid and unbreakable."
- There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You – Palace Brothers (1993)
- Days in the Wake – Palace Brothers (1994)
- Viva Last Blues – Palace Music (1995)
- Arise Therefore – Palace Music (1996)
- Joya – Will Oldham (1997)
- I See a Darkness – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (1999)
- Ease Down the Road – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2001)
- Master and Everyone – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2003)
- Sings Greatest Palace Music – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2004)
- Superwolf – Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2005)
- The Brave and the Bold – Tortoise & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2006)
- The Letting Go – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2006)
- Lie Down in the Light – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2008)
- Beware - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2009)
- The Wonder Show of the World - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and the Cairo Gang (2010)
- Wolfroy Goes to Town - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2011)
- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2013)
- Singer's Grave - A Sea of Tongues - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2014)
- Pond Scum - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2016)
The song "Emerging From Gorse" by Half Man Half Biscuit includes lyrics that describe the narrator's sister mocking him for listening to "Palace Brothers, Bonnie Prince Billy, that kind of thing".
Marianne Faithfull included Oldham's A King at Night on her 2003 Kissin Time tour.
Cadaverous Condition covered "Black" on their To The Night Sky album (2006).
Will Oldham began his acting career at the age of 17, when he portrayed a teen preacher in John Sayles's film about an Appalachian mining community, Matewan (1987). Oldham moved to Hollywood to pursue acting in the late 1980s, and landed roles in a couple of films. However, he quickly became disillusioned with the film industry and quit in 1989. He has since had several minor roles in independent films, such as Julien Donkey-Boy (1999), Junebug (2005), and The Guatemalan Handshake (2006). Oldham took a lead role in Old Joy, which was featured at SXSW XX and opened at New York's Film Forum on September 20, 2006. During this time, Will Oldham also played the role of a preacher in the "Horse Apples" special of WonderShowzen in series 2 of the show. In 2007, Oldham starred alongside Zach Galifianakis in the alternate music video for Kanye West's Can't Tell Me Nothing. In 2009, he was the narrator of "Madam and Little Boy", a documentary film about atomic weapons directed by Swedish artist Magnus Bärtås. In 2010, Oldham had a small part in Jackass 3D as a gorilla trainer. Oldham revealed that he had to write a theme song in the style of a Saturday morning cartoon show for filmmaker Lance Bangs' life to get the role.
- Matewan (1987), directed by John Sayles
- Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1989) (TV movie)
- Thousand Pieces of Gold (1991)
- Elysian Fields (1993)
- Radiation (1998)
- Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) (uncredited role), directed by Harmony Korine
- Slitch (2003), directed by Dianne Bellino
- Tripping with Caveh (2004), directed by Caveh Zahedi
- Junebug (2005)
- The Guatemalan Handshake (2006)
- Old Joy (2006)
- Trapped in the Closet- Chapter 15 (2007)
- Wendy and Lucy (2008)
- Madam and Little Boy (2009)
- Jackass 3D (2010)
- Pioneer (2011)
- New Jerusalem (2011)
- Magnetic Reconnection (2012) voice
- Edén (2014)
- A Ghost Story (2017)
Oldham also featured as guest aesthetic designer for the North American literary magazine Zoetrope All Story (vol 11, no 1) in 2007. In a note contained in the issue, he jokes that it would be "really magnificent to imagine this issue as a cocktail party at which all of the contributors, word and image, are present. add a bowl of keys and some mushroom cookies and i am there."
- "Björk: Björk - The music from Drawing Restraint 9". Paste (magazine). Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Larkin, Colin (May 27, 2011). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
- Derek Walmsley (March 14, 2013). "Exclusive Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Interview". The Wire. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
- Baldwin, C. (March 28, 2002). "The Wanderer". Chico News & Review. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
- Ashare, Matt (January 20, 2003). "Mystery Man: Palace Brother Will Oldham becomes Bonnie 'Prince' Billy". The Phoenix. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
- "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" (PDF). Foggy Notion. April 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 10, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
- Knott, Alex. (April 30, 2012) Bonnie 'Prince' Billy announced new EP, book + reissue of 6 LP's | Music News. Frost Magazine. Retrieved on 2012-05-04.
- Irvin, Jim; Colin McLear (2003). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (3rd ed.). Canongate. p. 585. ISBN 1-84195-438-1.
- LeMay, Matt (November 17, 2003). "The Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
- Irvin, Jim; Colin McLear (2003). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (3rd ed.). Canongate. p. 651. ISBN 1-84195-438-1.
- Bowers, William (November 17, 2003). "The Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
- Dimery, Robert (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe. p. 854. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
- ""Emerging From Gorse" - Lyrics and Videos". The Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- Roberts, Randall (June 3, 2009). "Will Oldham's Trouble with Hollywood". Dallas Observer. Retrieved January 16, 2010.
- Byck, Peter (February 4, 2006). "Oldham journeys back into acting". Scene. p. 5. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
- The Kanye West/Will Oldham/Zach Galifianakis Collabo You Never Saw Coming. Wired.com (July 25, 2007). Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
- Will Oldham Discusses Jackass 3D, Working on 'Blueprints' for New Album. Buzzgrinder.com (March 9, 2011). Retrieved on 2012-05-04.
- McCarthy, Shannon. "Slint Lyrics and Biography" Musicianguide.com. Retrieved on November 25, 2007.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Will Oldham.|
- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy official website
- Will Oldham discography at Discogs (includes links to alias profiles/discographies)
- Will Oldham at Drag City (record label)
- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at Domino Records (record label)
- Will Oldham at AllMusic
- Will Oldham at the Internet Movie Database
- The Royal Stable - Fan site with news, photos, tour dates, etc.
- The Pulpit - Fan site with some lyrics and tablature
- Freewilliamsburg.com interview
- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy as Guest DJ at NPR Music
- The Pretender - Profile of Will Oldham in The New Yorker
- www.music-illuminati.com - Interview