Official website the ex Nazareth guitarist and Rock Radio host

Early days

Mirrors promo shot

Mirrors promo shot

1959

Born on 25 April in Lennoxtown, Scotland.

Studied cello and piano to “teaching” level and awarded Scottish Region Music Scholarship 1971 (2 weeks orchestral experience in residential Manor and £10 record token). Choice of record was Dvorak’s Cello concerto, which he already had as the board wouldn’t have approved of Led Zep III & Deep Purple In Rock which he really bought. He was given the lead tenor part in the school opera, Iolanthe, which required the following of him. “I am Iolanthe, from the waist up I am man. From the waist down, I am fairy.” 2 week’s suspension followed his walking out of rehearsals. ‘A’ Level Music in 1975 followed by scholarship to Glasgow College Of Music & Drama in 1976 which he turned down due to recording commitments with Phase. His teacher, John Seggie, called him an arse, though 7 years later said in the local paper “I always knew William would do well.” Seggie hasn’t been quoted further since a chance meeting in the chip shop with Billy’s mum.

1972

Phase formed by Billy and school pals Allan Hendry (drums), Mick McAuley (bass) & John Burnett (guitar). Their first gig was at the High School dance.

1975

Signed to MAC, top Glasgow Agency by Eddie Tobin who also worked with Nazareth, SAHB and Billy Connolly as road manager.

1976

Phase signed to Black Gold records (only demos recorded) & take up Saturday residency at the famous Burns Howff in Glasgow.

1977

Phase now No. 1 band in Glasgow. They support Marmalade, Slik, Dead End Kids & Dougie Donnelly Roadshow. Kenny Cobain Replaces John. A Student Rag review gave them the No. 1 title and praised them on their ‘original’ material like Stranglehold (Ted Nugent), Sister Seagull (Be Bop Deluxe), Red Eyes (Spiders From Mars) & even She Said (Lone Star version of a Beatles track)

1978

In January Phase split amid rumours of Billy joining Thin Lizzy. Instead, Eddie Tobin takes him to London to join Zal Band. No audition was ever held. They completed brief tours of Sweden and the UK before Zal decided to leave. The last gig at The Marquee in London featured Billy’s first contribution “Jump Out The Window.” Billy was put on retainer with Mountain Records and spent three months rehearsing with Chris and Ted. All three were ‘let go.’ He successfully auditioned for The Scorpions but language barriers made the band think again. Formed the The Mirrors with drummer Paul Simon and secured a deal with EMI. The first single was to have been Preservation, later to appear on Nazareth’s 2XS album but Billy opted for a solo offer from CBS as the EMI deal was only for 2 singles. Love Leads To Madness was also premiered at a showcase gig for E.M.I.

1979

Billy signed to April Music (now CBS Songs) & Delta/CBS Records and formed writing partnership with Peter Shelley (Alvin Stardust) and recorded 2 singles (I Wanna Spend My Life With You & Can’t Stop Now – both backed by Jump Out The Window) using Chris Glen and Tommy Eyre (SAHB) and Pete Phips (Glitter Band). Using April’s ‘in-house’ writing rooms, over 40 songs were written in 4 months including Dream On.

Part 2: Nazareth | Part 3: Solo | Part 4: Nazareth again | Part 5: Rock Radio

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