ABOUT BILLY J
Born William Howard Ashton, Billy grew up in Bootle, a suburb of Liverpool. Upon leaving school, he became a trainee engineer by day and an aspiring singer by night, performing under the stage name Billy Kramer. Billy’s performance at local rock clubs around Liverpool soon brought him to the attention of John Lennon. Acknowledging Billy’s pop-idol potential, John urged Brian Epstein to sign Billy to an exclusive management contract. Needless to say, Billy jumped at the opportunity to leave his day job and become a full-time entertainer.
Soon after, Billy was summoned to Brian’s office to find John there waiting for him with the suggestion that he add the “J” to his name to give it a “rock and roll edge”. From that day forward, Billy has been known as Billy J. Kramer.
In 1963, Billy was the first person to have a hit record with a Lennon-McCartney song, “Do You Want To Know A Secret” which was written especially for him by John and Paul and recorded with George Martin at Abbey Road Studios even before The Beatles recorded it themselves.
Billy toured extensively throughout the UK as the opening act for The Beatles both before and during Beatlemania. Billy also headlined tours with such greats as Del Shannon, Gene Pitney, and The Everly Brothers.
The Lennon-McCartney compositions, “Bad To Me” along with “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, “From A Window”, and “I Call Your Name” all became international million sellers for Billy. Then, Billy received a demo of a song by top American songwriters Mort Shuman and John Leslie McFarland called Little Children. Billy immediately felt that it was a hit song. His insight proved correct as Little Children became a worldwide smash hit.
Bad To Me and Little Children were released as a double sided single. They have the unique distinction of being the highest entry into the Billboard charts at #8. That accomplishment has never been equalled.
Appearances on TV shows such as Ed Sullivan, Shindig and Hullaballoo secured Billy a place in rock and roll history. In 1964, Billy performed as part of the legendary TAMI show along with such artists as James Brown, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones and many others.
To commemorate his 50th anniversary in the music business, Billy recorded and released new material titled “I Won The Fight”.
The song Liverpool With Love was instrumental in finally getting Brian Epstein inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. He has also recently released his autobiography titled “Do You Want To Know A Secret”.
Billy’s international momentum has lasted through the years, and he continues to record and perform.