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Billy Jones

William Reese "Billy" Jones (March 15, 1889 – November 23, 1940) was a tenor who recorded during the 1920s and 1930s, finding fame as a radio star on The Happiness Boys radio program.

Jones worked in such occupations as mining, banking, and blacksmithing before his 1918 recording debut. He recorded with the Cleartone Four, the Crescent Trio, the Harmonizers Quartet and the Premier Quartet, and he performed under a variety of names (Harry Blake, Billy Clarke, Lester George, Duncan Jones, Reese Jones, John Kelley, Dennis O'Malley, William Rees, Victor Roberts, Billy West, William West, and Carlton Williams).

After he met Ernie Hare in 1919, they teamed in 1920 when Brunswick executive Gus Haenschen had them sing an accompaniment on a Brunswick Records recording. They went on to do numerous recordings together for Brunswick, Edison, and other companies.

They began on radio October 18, 1921 on WJZ (Newark, New Jersey). Sponsored by the chain of Happiness Candy stores, they were heard on The Happiness Boys program beginning August 22, 1923 on New York's WEAF, moving to NBC from a run from 1926 to 1929. As "The Happiness Boys", they sang popular tunes, mostly light fare and comic songs, and they joked with one another between numbers.

By 1928, they were the highest paid singers in radio, earning $1,250 a week. The partnership ended with Hare's death on March 9, 1939. Jones continued to perform, teaming with Hare's 16-year-old daughter, Marilyn Hare, in 1939-40. He died November 23, 1940 in Manhattan and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.

Among Jones' hits was "The grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard" (available on YouTube) which became the theme song of the "Big Brother Bob Emery " a children's program, first on radio, then on TV in both New York and Boston in the 1940s and 1950s.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 15th, 1889 (New York City), Died New York City

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1916 - 1951

Roles Represented in DAHR: tenor vocal, speaker, author, saxophone, songwriter, vocalist

Notes: Also recorded under the name Victor Roberts.

See Also: Roberts, Victor

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-23795 10-in. 3/31/1920 My Sahara Rose Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-23883 10-in. 3/24/1920 Oh! How I laugh when I think how I cried about you Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with violin duet and orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-23884 10-in. 3/24/1920 So long! Oo-long Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-23978 10-in. 4/30/1920 Some pretty day Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] ; Elizabeth Spencer Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24148 10-in. 6/3/1920 For every boy who's on the level (There's a girl who's on the square) Harmonizers Quartet ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal quartet and soloist, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24149 10-in. 6/3/1920 Some pretty day Harmonizers Quartet ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal quartet and soloist, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24672 10-in. 11/1/1920 My home town is a one-horse town, but it's big enough for me Harmonizers Quartet ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal quartet and soloist, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24673 10-in. 11/1/1920 I'm a lonesome little raindrop (Looking for a place to fall) Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24755 10-in. 12/21/1920 Down by the O-hi-o (I've got the sweetest little O, my! O!) Billy Murray ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24756 10-in. 12/21/1920 All she'd say was 'umh-hum' Billy Murray ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24900 10-in. 1/19/1921 Give me a million beautiful girls (But give me one at a time) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24955 10-in. 2/21/1921 My old Jersey home Gladys Rice ; Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-24956 10-in. 2/21/1921 Rosie (You are working too hard) Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with xylophone and orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-25236 10-in. 4/25/1921 Wait until you see my Madeline Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-25237 10-in. 4/25/1921 Peggy O'Neil Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-26182 10-in. 3/27/1922 Gee! But I hate to go home alone Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-26188 10-in. 3/30/1922 Don't feel sorry for me Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-26559 10-in. 6/19/1922 Why should I cry over you? Victor Roberts [i.e., Billy Jones] Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-30048 10-in. 5/6/1924 Hard boiled Rose The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-30049 10-in. 5/6/1924 Jump, Fritz (I feed you liver) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor B-30050 10-in. 5/6/1924 Oh! Eva (Ain't you coming out to-night?) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33045 10-in. 7/1/1925 How's your folks and my folks (down in Norfolk town) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33046 10-in. 7/1/1925 As a porcupine pines for its pork The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33047 10-in. 7/1/1925 I miss my Swiss The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33243 10-in. 8/21/1925 Pardon me (While I laugh) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 1-25 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed October 31, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 31 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631

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