Billy Banks

For other persons named William Banks, see William Banks
For other persons named Willie Banks, see Willie Banks

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

Recordings

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 vocalist, director  
Victor BRC-72561 10-in. 5/10/1932 Mighty sweet Billy Banks Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director, vocalist  
Victor BRC-72562 10-in. 5/10/1932 Minnie the Moocher's weddin' day Billy Banks Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist, director  
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  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Banks, Billy," accessed December 3, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110396.

Banks, Billy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110396.

"Banks, Billy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 3 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110396

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.