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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 701-714 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Edison 19211 10-in. 5/23/1929 She has a little dimple on her chin The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison 19212 10-in. 5/23/1929 It ain't no fault of mine The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-196 10-in. 4/16/1928 Frankie and Johnnie Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with violin, guitar, and piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-344 10-in. 7/24/1928 Mr. Hoover and Mr. Smith The Happiness Boys ; Dave Kaplan Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-345 10-in. 7/24/1928 I love to dunk a hunk of sponge cake The Happiness Boys ; Dave Kaplan Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-908 10-in. 5/21/1929 In old Tia Juana (Ti-a Wa-na) Billy Jones ; Kaplan's Melodists Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-909 10-in. 5/21/1929 Am I a passing fancy (Or am I the one in your dreams)? Billy Jones ; Kaplan's Melodists Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-915 10-in. 5/23/1929 She has a little dimple on her chin The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Edison N-916 10-in. 5/23/1929 It ain't no fault of mine The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Vocalion 142W-144W 10-in. 12/22/1924 Please be good to my old girl Tuxedo Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Decca ATL 7004 8/27/1951 What can I do? Waymon Brown instrumentalist, saxophone  
Decca ATL 7005 8/27/1951 Six-hundred block Waymon Brown instrumentalist, saxophone  
Decca ATL 7006 8/27/1951 Barefoot Susie Waymon Brown instrumentalist, saxophone  
Decca ATL 7007 8/27/1951 Feelin' sad and lonesome Waymon Brown instrumentalist, saxophone  
(Results 701-714 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed December 8, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 8 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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