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Billy J. Kramer

Singer   -   Performer  -  Recording  Artist  -  Songwriter  -  Narrator  -  Author

BIOGRAPHY

BIOGRAPHY

BIOGRAPHY

Born William Howard Ashton, Billy grew up in Bootle, a suburb of Liverpool.  Upon leaving school, he became a trainee engineer (railroad) by day and an aspiring singer by night, performing under the stage name Billy Kramer.  

 

Billy’s performance at local rock clubs around Liverpool soon brought him to the attention of John Lennon.  Acknowledging Billy’s pop-idol potential, John urged Brian Epstein to sign Billy to an exclusive management contract.  Needless to say, Billy jumped at the opportunity to leave his day job and become a full-time entertainer.

Soon after, Billy was summoned to Brian’s office to find John there waiting for him with the suggestion that he add the “J” to his name to give it a “rock and roll edge”.  From that day forward, Billy has been known as Billy J. Kramer.

 

In 1963, Billy was the first person to have a hit record with a Lennon-McCartney song, “Do You Want to Know A Secret” which was written especially for him by John and Paul and recorded with George Martin at Abbey Road Studios even before The Beatles recorded it themselves.

 

Billy toured extensively throughout the UK as the opening act for The Beatles both before and during “Beatlemania”.  Billy also headlined tours with such greats as Del Shannon, Gene Pitney, and The Everly Brothers.

 

Soon after, Billy was summoned to Brian’s office to find John there waiting for him with the suggestion that he add the “J” to his name to give it a “rock and roll edge”.  From that day forward, Billy has been known as Billy J. Kramer.

 

In 1963, Billy was the first person to have a hit record with a Lennon-McCartney song, “Do You Want to Know A Secret” which was written especially for him by John and Paul and recorded with George Martin at Abbey Road Studios even before The Beatles recorded it themselves.

 

Billy toured extensively throughout the UK as the opening act for The Beatles both before and during “Beatlemania”.  Billy also headlined tours with such greats as Del Shannon, Gene Pitney, and The Everly Brothers.

 

The Lennon-McCartney compositions, “Bad to Me” along with “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, “From A Window”, and “I Call Your Name” all became international million sellers for Billy.  Then, Billy received a demo of a song by top American songwriters Mort Shuman and John Leslie McFarland called Little Children.  Billy immediately felt that it was a hit song.  His insight proved correct as Little Children became a worldwide smash hit. 

“Bad to Me” and “Little Children” were released as a double sided single.  They have the unique distinction of being the highest entry into the Billboard charts at #8.  That accomplishment has never been equaled.

Appearances on TV shows such as Ed Sullivan, Shindig and Hullaballoo secured Billy a place in rock and roll history.  In 1964, Billy performed as part of the legendary TAMI show along with such artists as James Brown, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones and many others.

To commemorate his 50th anniversary in the music business, Billy recorded and released new material titled “I Won the Fight”. 

The song “Liverpool With Love” was instrumental in finally getting Brian Epstein inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  

 

 

Billy’s international momentum has lasted through the years, and he continues to record and perform.

Billy was honored to be asked to record a song called Cow Planet on the Dog Train cd by world-famous children’s author Sandra Boynton, alongside Weird All Yankovic, Kate Winslet,The Bacon Brothers, and Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme among others.  

 

Then, Sandra called upon Billy again to narrate the apps for a few of her most famous books, The Going to Bed Book and Blue Hat Green Hat.

Billy’s recently released autobiography, “Do You Want to Know A Secret”, chronicles his history, from growing up in Liverpool in the aftermath of WWII, to becoming a world-wide celebrity, complete with the evils of alcohol and drugs, to achieving sobriety for more than 3 decades.

 

Billy’s semi-autobiographical cd, “I Won the Fight”, contains a song he wrote called “To Liverpool With Love”, as a tribute to Brian Epstein, the man who introduced the world to The Beatles and Billy and so many other UK artists.  At the time, Billy wrote the song, he felt that Brian’s contribution to rock and roll history was forgotten and that he deserved, more than anyone, to be in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  This song launched a campaign which eventually got Brian inducted.

 

The title song, “I Won the Fight”, talks about Billy’s days as a trainee engineer with British Rail prior to his rise to stardom.

In both current albums: “I Won the Fight” and “Hankey Drive”, Billy shows his love for country music.  In the 60’s, he even suggested to George Martin that he do a country album, but George was reluctant, and the idea was scrapped.

 

Billy will be eternally grateful to John Lennon and Paul McCartney for all of the support and songs they wrote for him.  

 

He is particularly grateful to John, as he was the one who urged Brian to sign Billy, saying that “you should sign that kid Billy Kramer, he’s a good singer”.  To honor John, Billy has just recorded “Jealous Guy”, which brings standing ovations at all of his performances.

 

The latest cd is titled “Hankey Drive”, which is the name of the street that Billy grew up on in Liverpool, consists of several songs written by Billy as well as some songs that he had in mind to record for quite some time.

 

The song “Peace of Mind” reflects how he feels about his life today.

 

Billy’s current live shows consist of the songs that brought him success coupled with songs by artists that influenced him along the way and songs that are audience crowd-pleasers.  Billy has a dynamic band, and their camaraderie shines through every show they do together.