June 9, 2010 - Wednesday
R.I.P Billy Francis
Current mood: melancholy
R I P Bllly Francis
I first met Billy in 1960, I was 23 years old and Billy was 18.
I had just became the leader of the Band at "Cottrels". (A local night club) in Mobile.
We had Amateur night on Wednesdays and Billy came in .
He got on the show and won the contest.
He played a boogie woogie in the key of C (the only key he knew)
I hired him and we learned Music together ! !
Over the years we played in many Bands together.
In 1968 we played in a Band put together by Popeye Phillips called "The Chocolate Papers".
That Band consisted of Bobby Domingus, Popeye Phillips, Jimmy Allen, George Cummings, Billy Francis and Me !
That Band broke up and people went their own way.
George Cummings wound up in New Jersey .
Then I went up and joined his Band !
We then called Billy, who was in Chicago at the time , to come on up and join us.
We then formed "Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show"
Billy was truly one of the Greatest Soul's I've ever met in my life.
I Love him like a Brother and I will miss him Very Much.
I've Lost a Life Time Friend.
"See Ya Later Pal"
|Billy Francis was an original member of Dr Hook.
In the very early days, the band was Ray Sawyer, George Cummings, myself and a drummer named Teddy.
We first played at The BandBox in Union City, New Jersey.
Every once in awhile Ray would play the old, half tuned piano that was permanently up on their little stage.
There was talk of a friend that played Hammond organ back down in Mississippi and that they might give him a call and see what he was doing.
I woke up one morning with someone shaking my foot.
That 'someone' was a guy with a long, dark moustache, wearing a wool hat and a Navy peacoat.
It was Billy. He'd arrived from Biloxi, driving his little red Mustang convertible, but his organ had not.
It had been shipped and was lost somewhere in transit.
We'd recently moved clubs and were playing at a place called The Playpen (with a sign outside that read 'TOO EXCITING TOO EXPLAIN!') in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
The clientele were a bunch of old soaks who couldn't care less if there was a band or not.
There was a piano in the room with a raggedy little Xmas set up tree on it.
We asked if our new keyboard player could play it until his Hammond arrived, but the owner refused, saying the sound would vibrate the tree off on to the floor.
So, Billy sat for a few nights and listened. Unsurprisingly, we didn't last very long at The Playpen and wound up in another dive down in Jersey City called Oyster Bay.
By that time, Teddy the drummer was long gone, but the organ had been located and Billy was officially a player in the band.
It's well documented that Hook had a pretty long and successful run over the next 15 years.
Billy was in the group and on the road from the first club and college dates thru the (One and Only) Farewell Tour in 1985.
He and I were pretty closely in contact for the next several years, but had lost touch, personally, in the last decade or so.
I recv'd a few email some weeks ago telling me that Billy had passed away, but I already knew.
I had been contacted by his family and a friend of his.
A couple of posts were also stuck in the middle of our busy guestbook, but I didn't feel that's where they should stay.
There are only a few of us original members of the band still around these days.
Tick-tock, tick-tock. I could say that we've all had our differences over the years.
They're almost as big a part of our 'legend' as the music.
The fact remains that anytime you ever saw or will ever see the original Dr Hook (with or without The Medicine Show) Billy was and will be there.
That's what will last.
January 16th 1942 - May 23rd 2010
June 15th 2010