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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 101-125 of 714 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 81103 10-in. 7/3/1923 Cut yourself a piece of cake Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81242 10-in. 9/27/1923 Walk, Jenny, walk! Billy Jones ; The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81243 10-in. 9/27/1923 Last night on the back porch Billy Jones ; The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81280 10-in. 10/13/1923 Ko-ko-mo Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81358 10-in. 11/15/1923 Mamma loves Papa Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81375 10-in. 11/30/1923 You better keep babying baby Georgians ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81376 10-in. 11/30/1923 I've got a cross-eyed papa Georgians ; Frank Guarente ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81379 10-in. 12/4/1923 More The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81380 10-in. 12/4/1923 She wouldn't do (What I asked her to) The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81448 10-in. 1/2/1924 So I took the fifty thousand dollars Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81449 10-in. 1/2/1924 Me no speak-a good English Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81494 10-in. 1/18/1924 Whose Izzy is he Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81501 10-in. 1/25/1924 Since Ma is playing mah jong Billy Jones ; The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81521 10-in. 2/1/1924 Why did I kiss that girl? Columbia Orchestra ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81522 10-in. 2/1/1924 Who is the meanest girl in town? Josephine Billy Jones Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81562 10-in. 2/14/1924 It ain't gonna rain no mo' Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81563 10-in. 2/14/1924 So this is Venice! Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81636 10-in. 3/8/1924 The little wooden whistle wouldn't whistle Columbia Novelty Orchestra ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81637 10-in. 3/8/1924 What does the pussy-cat mean when she says 'me-ow'? Columbia Novelty Orchestra ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81753 10-in. 5/2/1924 I'm gonna bring a watermelon Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81754 10-in. 5/2/1924 Hinky dinky parlay voo Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81765 10-in. 5/7/1924 Oh, baby! Columbia Novelty Orchestra ; Billy Jones Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81809 10-in. 6/5/1924 Oh! Eva Ferera's Novelty Trio ; Billy Jones Instrumental trio, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81810 10-in. 6/5/1924 If I stay away too long from Carolina Ferera's Novelty Trio ; Billy Jones Instrumental trio, with male vocal solo vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 81814 10-in. 6/9/1924 It looks like rain Ernest Hare ; Billy Jones Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
(Results 101-125 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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