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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 76-100 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor [Trial 1920-03-05-03] Not documented 3/5/1920 Oh! How I laugh when I think how I cried about you Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor [Trial 1920-04-22-01] Not documented 4/22/1920 Oh! By jingo Harmonizers Quartet Male vocal quartet vocalist, tenor vocal  
Victor [Trial 1920-04-22-02] Not documented 4/22/1920 Southern smiles Harmonizers Quartet Male vocal quartet vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 79511 10-in. 11/10/1920 Medley of marching songs Prince's Band Band, with male vocal quartet vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 79512 10-in. 11/10/1920 Lindy Prince's Band Band, with male vocal quartet vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 79653 10-in. 1/21/1921 Playmates Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 79980 10-in. 9/9/1921 Little Alabama coon Rosa Ponselle Soprano vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80105 10-in. 12/16/1921 While Miami dreams Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80109 10-in. 12/19/1921 Lalawana lullaby Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80130 10-in. 1/9/1922 Feather-bed Lane Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80143 10-in. 1/18/1922 Ka-lu-a Shannon Four Male vocal quartet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80175 10-in. 2/2/1922 Indiana lullaby Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80182 10-in. 2/10/1922 After the rain Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80208 10-in. 2/17/1922 You can have every light on Broadway Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80315 10-in. 4/22/1922 Sweet and low Lucy Gates Soprano vocal solo, with male vocal quartet, woodwind ensemble, and celeste vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80316 10-in. 4/22/1922 Chiming bells of long ago Lucy Gates Soprano vocal solo, with male vocal quartet, woodwind ensemble, and celeste vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80320 10-in. 4/24/1922 Maryland, my Maryland Tandy MacKenzie Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80367 10-in. 5/31/1922 Gee! But I hate to go home alone Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80372 10-in. 6/7/1922 Why should I cry over you Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80408 10-in. 6/16/1922 I wish there was a wireless to heaven (then Mama would not seem so far away) Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80956 10-in. 4/12/1923 Cohen 'phones for a 'phone Joe Hayman Comic scene speaker  
Columbia 80957 10-in. 4/12/1923 Cohen 'phones his son at college Joe Hayman Comic scene speaker  
Columbia 80967 10-in. 4/14/1923 Barney Google Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 80968 10-in. 4/14/1923 Old King Tut Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81015 10-in. 5/15/1923 Bebe Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 76-100 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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