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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 301-325 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh S-71176 10-in. Jan. 1923 I was married up in the air (I've been up in the air ever since) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh 71229 10-in. Jan. 1923 Wanita (Wanna eat? Wanna eat?) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71301 10-in. Feb. 1923 You know you belong to somebody else (So why don't you leave me alone) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71336 10-in. Mar. 1923 Barney Google Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71337 10-in. Mar. 1923 No one loves you any better than your M-A-double-M-Y Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71338 10-in. Mar. 1923 Who's sorry now? Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71452 10-in. Apr. 1923 I love me (I'm wild about myself) Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71454 10-in. Apr. 1923 Don't we carry on Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71557 10-in. May 1923 Yes! We have no bananas Blue Diamond Dance Orchestra ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71563 10-in. May 1923 Maggie! (Yes ma'am!) Come right upstairs Virginia Burt ; Billy Jones Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71576 10-in. May 1923 'N that's better Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71577 10-in. May 1923 Stella Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71592 10-in. June 1923 Yes! We have no bananas Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71638 10-in. 6/19/1923 Oh! Gee, oh! Gosh, oh! Golly, I'm in love Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71639 10-in. 6/19/1923 Pickles Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71666 10-in. July 1923 Nut-sey Fagan Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71689 10-in. July 1923 Cut yourself a piece of cake (And make yourself at home) Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71690 10-in. July 1923 Hi lee, hi lo (Chop suey a la fox-ee-trot-ee) Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71703 10-in. July 1923 Oh! Sister, ain't that hot? Billy Jones ; Rega Dance Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71794 10-in. Aug. 1923 Last night on the back porch (I loved her best of all) Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71820 Not documented Sept. 1923 [Unknown title(s)] Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71821 10-in. Sept. 1923 That's a lot of bunk Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71888 10-in. Sept. 1923 Oh you little sun-uv-er-gun Okeh Syncopators ; Harry Reser Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71943 10-in. Oct. 1923 When it's night time in Italy, it's Wednesday over here Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
OKeh S-71944 10-in. Oct. 1923 Nobody else can love me like my old tomato can Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 301-325 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed January 25, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 25 January 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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