Billy Banks (c. 1908 – October 19, 1967, Tokyo, Japan) was an American jazz singer. Banks is most prominently remembered for being a successful female impersonator on record.
Banks recorded in 1932 with an all-star, multi-racial jazz lineup made up of Red Allen on trumpet, Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, Tommy Dorsey on trombone, Joe Sullivan on piano, Zutty Singleton on drums, and Fats Waller, also on piano; most of the black musicians were from Luis Russell's retinue, while the white ones had been brought to the studio by producer Irving Mills. The vocals were once thought to have been performed by Una Mae Carlisle, but Banks is the actual vocalist.
Banks worked with Russell as a showman and vocalist, and later worked with Noble Sissle. He later performed in cabarets under Billy Rose, then toured Europe, Australia, and East Asia in the 1950s. One of his last recordings was done in Denmark in 1954 with Cy Laurie. Late in the 1950s, he relocated to Japan, and died there in Tokyo in 1967.
Birth and Death Data: Born 1908, Died October 19th, 1967 (Tokyo)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1932 - 1936
Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, director
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||BRC-72560||10-in.||5/10/1932||The scat song||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||director, vocalist|
|Victor||BRC-72561||10-in.||5/10/1932||Mighty sweet||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist, director|
|Victor||BRC-72562||10-in.||5/10/1932||Minnie the Moocher's weddin' day||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||director, vocalist|
|Victor||BS-73306||10-in.||8/18/1932||Oh! you sweet thing||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-73307||10-in.||8/18/1932||It don't mean a thing||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-73309||10-in.||8/18/1932||You wonderful thing||Billy Banks Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BRC-Test-1128||10-in.||4/13/1932||Sleepytown down South||Billy Banks||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist|
|Victor||BRC-Test-1129||10-in.||4/13/1932||Dinah||Billy Banks||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist|
|Decca||60889||10-in.||3/11/1936||You can't live in Harlem||Noble Sissle Orchestra||vocalist|
|Decca||60890||10-in.||3/11/1936||I wonder who made rhythm||Noble Sissle Orchestra||vocalist|
|Decca||C 9295||10-in.||8/15/1934||Under the Creole moon||Noble Sissle and his International Orchestra||vocalist|
|Decca||C 9296||10-in.||8/15/1934||The old ark is moverin'||Noble Sissle and his International Orchestra||vocalist|
|Decca||C 9297||10-in.||8/15/1934||Loveless love||Noble Sissle and his International Orchestra||vocalist|
|Decca||C 9298||10-in.||8/15/1934||Polka dot rag||Noble Sissle and his International Orchestra||vocalist|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Banks, Billy," accessed August 5, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110396.
Banks, Billy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 5, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110396.
"Banks, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 5 August 2021.
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