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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 51-75 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-41191 10-in. 12/21/1927 Go home and tell your mother that I love you The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-41192 10-in. 12/21/1927 Poor Lizzie The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-41193 10-in. 12/21/1927 It's in the bag The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-41514 10-in. 1/4/1928 Henry's made a lady out of Lizzie The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-43399 10-in. 3/26/1928 He ain't never been to college The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-43500 10-in. 3/26/1928 She's the sweetheart of six other guys The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-43501 10-in. 3/26/1928 Good-bye Broadway, hello Montreal The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-45800 10-in. 6/19/1928 Must you wear a moustache? The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-45801 10-in. 6/19/1928 Giggling Gertie The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-46603 10-in. 7/24/1928 I love to dunk a hunk of sponge-cake The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-46604 10-in. 7/24/1928 Mr. Hoover—Mr. Smith The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-46605 10-in. 7/24/1928 Sing, sister, sing The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-46661 10-in. 8/3/1928 Etiquette blues The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-48106 10-in. 10/31/1928 Where did you get that name? The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor CVE-48107 12-in. 10/31/1928 Twisting the dials The Happiness Boys Descriptive scene, with piano and recordings speaker, author  
Victor CVE-48149 12-in. 11/12/1928 Twisting the dials The Happiness Boys Descriptive scene, with traps and recordings author, speaker  
Victor BVE-53418 10-in. 5/16/1929 She has a little dimple on her chin The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-53419 10-in. 5/16/1929 Misery farm The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-53420 10-in. 5/16/1929 Who cares anyhow The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-56149 10-in. 9/25/1929 Billy and Ernie, thank you for your information, part 1 The Happiness Boys Comic monologue, with piano speaker, author  
Victor BVE-56150 10-in. 9/25/1929 Billy and Ernie, thank you for your information, part 2 The Happiness Boys Comic monologue, with piano speaker, author  
Victor BVE-56759 10-in. 10/8/1929 Sergeant Flagg and Sergeant Quirt The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-56760 10-in. 10/8/1929 I can't sleep in the movies any more The Happiness Boys Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor BVE-62350 10-in. 7/16/1930 Happiness Boys going abroad The Happiness Boys Comic scene, with traps speaker, author  
Victor BVE-62351 10-in. 7/16/1930 Happiness Boys in London The Happiness Boys Comic scene, with traps speaker, author  
(Results 51-75 of 714 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jones, Billy," accessed December 5, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

Jones, Billy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109631.

"Jones, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 5 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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