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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 November 23rd, 1940 (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 226-250 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 146437 10-in. 6/13/1928 That's my weakness now Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W146765 10-in. 7/21/1928 Mr. Hoover and Mr. Smith The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W146766 10-in. 7/21/1928 He's our Al The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W147727 10-in. 12/26/1928 A gay caballero The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental quartet vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W147728 10-in. 12/26/1928 All by yourself in the moonlight The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with fiddle (violin) and piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W98296 12-in. 8/6/1926 Studio stunts Columbia Artists Vocalists, comic duo, saxophone soloist, and jazz/dance band songwriter, vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W98297 12-in. 8/6/1926 Studio stunts Columbia Artists Vocalists, pianist, comic duo, and jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia W98316 12-in. 2/18/1927 Studio stunts Columbia Artists Vocalists and jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7284 Not documented Feb. 1920 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7285 10-in. Feb. 1920 Oh how I laugh when I think how I cried about you Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7296 10-in. Feb. 22, 1920 So long Oolong Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7524 10-in. Aug. 1920 Chili bean (Eenie-meenie-minie-mo) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7525 10-in. Aug. 1920 My little bimbo down on the Bamboo Isle Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7618 10-in. Oct. 1920 Palesteena Billy Jones ; Ed Smalle Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7622 10-in. Oct. 1920 Broadway Rose Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7633 10-in. Oct. 1920 My home town is a one horse town (But it's big enough for me Billy Jones ; Ed Smalle Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7634 10-in. Oct. 1920 All she'd say was "umh hum" Billy Jones ; Ed Smalle Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7646 Not documented Nov. 1920 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7665 Not documented Nov. 1920 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7666 10-in. Nov. 1920 She walks in her husband's sleep Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7677 10-in. Nov. 1920 Scandal Billy Jones ; Ed Smalle Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7742 10-in. Feb. 1921 Over the hill Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7760 10-in. Feb. 1921 Oh! Boy (I found the baby for me) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7817 10-in. Mar. 1921 Rebecca (Come back from Mecca) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7867 10-in. Apr. 1921 I like it Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal duet, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 226-250 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed November 26, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 26 November 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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