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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 26-50 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-33244 10-in. 8/21/1925 I would rather be alone in the South The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33245 10-in. 8/21/1925 There ain't no flies on Auntie The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano and dialogue vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33246 10-in. 8/21/1925 Pretty puppy The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33626 10-in. 11/25/1925 Frank and Ernest The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33627 10-in. 11/25/1925 That certain party The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33628 10-in. 11/25/1925 Whispering leaves The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33629 10-in. 11/25/1925 Why aren't yez eatin' more oranges? (From Cal-i-for-ni-ay) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33630 10-in. 11/25/1925 An operatic syncopation The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33682 10-in. 1/26/1926 In my gondola The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33683 10-in. 1/26/1926 What! No women? The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-33684 10-in. 1/26/1926 The village blacksmith own the village now The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-34355 10-in. 1/25/1926 Baby Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-36131 10-in. 8/25/1926 Sing, Katie (But leave the piano alone) The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-36132 10-in. 8/25/1926 She knows her onions The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-36133 10-in. 8/25/1926 It won't be long now The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-36134 10-in. 8/25/1926 I haven't mentioned Mammy The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-36135 10-in. 8/25/1926 And then I forget The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-38106 10-in. 2/23/1927 That's my hap-hap-happiness The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-38107 10-in. 2/23/1927 Cock-a-doodle, I'm off my noodle The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39165 10-in. 9/8/1927 Pastafazoola The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39166 10-in. 9/8/1927 From Saturday night till Monday morning The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39167 10-in. 9/8/1927 Since Henry Ford apologized to me The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39249 10-in. 6/14/1927 Oh ja ja The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39250 10-in. 6/14/1927 You don't like it, not much The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-39251 10-in. 6/14/1927 When Lindy comes home The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 26-50 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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