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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 15, 1889 (New York City), Died November 23, 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 251-275 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh S-7868 10-in. approximately 1921 Down yonder Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7868 Not documented Apr. 1921 [Unknown title(s)] Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal duet, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7869 10-in. Apr. 1921 Ain't we got fun Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-7879 10-in. Apr. 1921 Pucker up and whistle (Till the clouds roll by) Billy Jones ; Margaret McKee ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and whistling vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8111 Not documented ca. Feb. 1921 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8112 10-in. ca. Feb. 1921 Give me a million beautiful girls Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8178 10-in. ca. June 1921 All by myself Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8179 10-in. ca. June 1921 My daddy Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8225 10-in. ca. Nov. 1921 Oh dear Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh o-8238 10-in. ca. Dec. 1921 Ten little fingers and ten little toes Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70017 10-in. July 1921 Down at the old swimming hole Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70025 Not documented July 1921 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70026 10-in. July 1921 Anna in Indiana Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70049 10-in. July 1921 Tuck me to sleep in my old 'Tucky home Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70050 10-in. July 1921 Ma Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70051 10-in. July 1921 Molly on a trolly (By golly with you) Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70090 10-in. Aug. 1921 Frankie Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70091 Not documented Aug. 1921 [Unknown title(s)] Billy Jones ; Rega Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70201 10-in. Oct. 1921 Jealous of you Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70202 10-in. Oct. 1921 Sweet lady Vaughn De Leath ; Billy Jones Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70212 10-in. Oct. 1921 Ten little fingers and ten little toes (Down in Tennessee) Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70327 10-in. Nov. 1921 When Francis dances with me Vaughn De Leath ; Billy Jones Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70381 10-in. Dec. 1921 Dear old melodies no. 1 Shannon Four Male vocal quartet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70383 10-in. Dec. 1921 Atta baby Billy Jones ; Tampa Blue Jazz Band Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-70384 10-in. Dec. 1921 Uncle Bud Billy Jones ; Tampa Blue Jazz Band Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 251-275 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed January 26, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 26 January 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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