The native of Ralls, Texas appeared on the legendary Louisiana
Hayride on KWKH out of Shreveport, LA around 1952, 1953.
His family ran a farm. When he was six, his mother died.
His father then made the hard decision to send Billy
and his two older brothers to a Methodist orphanage in Waco, TX being
unable to do handle both running the farm work and taking care of the
It was to be some time their father could bring the family back
together again, but he finally did that in Clovis, NM. This is
where Billy first started showing his interest in music.
As poor as they may have been, his father managed
to buy Billy a guitar for $7.50.
However, being poor, meant that their would be no musical lessons
for Billy, so he learned by listening to others and trying to do the same.
When he was 15, he won an amateur contest and a prize of $3
and that led to his first radio show on radio station KICA in Clovis, New Mexico.
After graudating from high school, Billy joined a traveling
band that he toured with for about two years, ending up on the
Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas. During that time, he also worked
with Hank Thompson.
At this point in his career, things seemed to start
happening at once in a good way.
He auditioned for Columbia records and was signed up. His first big
hit was "Anything Your Heart Desires" backed with
"What Makes Me Love You".
Next he joined
the "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport, LA as one of the featured
stars. There he had the good fortune to hook up with Tillman
Franks, who became his manager.
Along about 1956, Billy was appearing on the nationally known
television show hosted by Red Foley, the Ozark Jubilee.
Billy met his wife, Boots, in San Angelo, Texas in 1947,
and married her on March 17, 1948. They had two darling
little girls, Judy Lynn, born February 4, 1949 and
Deana Ann, born August 11, 1952.
He and his band, "The :Traveling Texans" just completed
a tour of Texas, playing to capacity crowds in
San Antonio and Houston, Texas.
From his stint on the Hayride, he went on to continued success
on WSM's Grand Ole Opry out of Nashville, TN.
Credits & Sources
- Country Song Roundup No. 22, February 1953,
American Folk Publications, Inc., Derby, CT.
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