He’s been a TV and radio personality for most of his career: in Los Angeles, San Francisco and his home town of Portland, Oregon, USA. In Los Angeles, he created a very popular feature segment for KCBS TV news that offered exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks into the music business. “For the Record” profiled Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, Loretta Lynn, Helen Reddy, Henry Mancini, Sergio Mendes, Quincy Jones and Lawrence Welk along with the Temptations and the Supremes, during its run; and helped fuel Billy Ray’s desire to make his own music. He’s even sung a duet with Neil Sedaka on Los Angeles TV, and joined Bob Dylan as a backup singer on a Leonard Cohen track.
And now—in 2011 — he’s finally stepping out on his own, with The Nashville Tracks, a 10-song collection that features some of the best musicians in the world playing Billy Ray’s original compositions ranging from Soul-satisfying R&B to Country, Blues and Rock ‘n Roll!
You’ll hear The Billy Ray Big Band, on his classic, “Rather Have Sooner”, with a James Brown groove and a “can’t sit still” feel; on “Daddy’s Comin’ Home” he is a true “Blues Brother”, and wait until you catch the stellar guitar lead by George Marinelli, Bonnie Raitt’s guitar player. It’s as if the entire Bonnie Raitt band were backing Billy Ray in a live performance. You can thank producer Cliff Goldmacher for assembling some of Nashville’s greatest players for these soul-stirring sessions.
John Osborne, of KingBilly, lends his producer and guitar playing skills to a couple of country-flavored Billy Ray songs: “Poppa Knows” and “Carolina Blue”, featuring even more great Nashville musicianship. And the rest of the CD? It rolls right along to a nice, happy and snappy conclusion with “A Simple Life”, which evokes dropping out of the rat-race and finding one’s own inner peace, joy and tranquility.
The whole music thing started for Billy Ray when, as a teenager, he taught himself guitar and began to play and sing Buddy Holly and Richie Valens songs; then it was a brief stint as a folksinger in college, doing songs by Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio; on to Rock ‘n Roll stints with several bands that led to what might have been his breakthrough: Billy Ray was a founding member of the legendary Seven Souls, one of L-A’s hottest bands, that went on to open for James Brown and The Righteous Brothers in its heyday, and was the launching pad for Bob Welch who went from The Seven Souls to fame with Fleetwood Mac. Ultimately, the Vietnam War split up the original Seven Souls band, including Billy Ray, who went on to serve his country as a member of the U-S Marine Corps Reserve, and later as a commissioned officer in the U-S Navy Reserve.
So come along for the ride. These are some great songs, with fine production and a message of hope: keep on pushin’ and your day will surely come. Enjoy!
Billy Ray Deiz is distributed to the world digitally by Blue Pie Records.