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Billy Keeble Interview

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Billy was born and raised in Tullahoma, Tennessee, a small town fifty miles east of Nashville. He joined his first country band and started singing at the age of fifteen.

In 1978, on the advice of a close friend he made the move to Texas, where he has lived for the past 21 years. Within a short time he formed the "Texas Pride Band" and from 1978 to 1990, Billy and Texas Pride were in constant demand throughout Texas, noted for playing some of the finest country, and western swing music, to be to be heard anywhere.

I interviewed Billy in April 2000.

Ray Grundy
Billy Keeble

  Hello Billy, and welcome to Metro Country!
  Hi Ray, thanks for having me on the show, I feel real honoured for this oportunity.
 You started singing at the age of 15! What kind of music were you doing then?

  Yes, I started singing in my early teens, I was working the clubs with a band I put together with some school friends of mine. We were doing country music at first, but that kinda drifted off into some other things.

I didn't care for the music we drifted off into, I prefered to do country music, so I kept puttin' pickers together to keep the band country, and I've been doin' it ever since.

  Who would you say are your biggest influences?
  I think my biggest influences were, Hank Williams Sr, Ray Price, Hank Thompson, George Jones and people like that. After I got a little older I would listen to Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, and anyone who played a good 4/4 shuffle, if you know what I mean.
  In 1990 you were in a very serious road accident, that threatened to end your career, when serious vocal damage had doctors saying you would never sing again! Can you tell us about that?
Yes, I was in a pretty serious car accident in 1990. None of the doctors really knew what went wrong until I had my voice back again. I had to have heart surgery and they had bruised the nerves to my vocal chords, and didn't know it at the time.
It surprised everyone when I was able to talk and sing again! 
  The kind of traditional country that you are doing, it isn't the kind to find favour with many of today's radio stations in America, and it isn't likely to interest the major labels, who seem more interested in the pop orientated stuff these day's! It obviously means a lot more to you than that?

 Well Ray, this is a touchy subject with me. First of all, if the major labels don't like what I am doin', then I don't want to talk with them anyway. I don't want anyone to be in control of the music I do . There are still a lot of radio stations in America who will play the kind of music I do, and I thank them for that.

Country Music these day's is only a money thing for the majors, it's not the music. Some of the people in charge of the labels don't even know what the word country means, if you know what I'm talking about.

I'm just glad that there are people out there who like what I do, and the ones that don't, well, change the radio station!

 Now, if we can talk about this wonderful album, "Unchained Country". Many of the tracks were written by the albums producer Curt Ryle, and 5 of them are written or co-written by yourself! Do you enjoy writing, or do you just write in order to find the kind of music you want to play?

 Well, I write really because only myself knows what I want, and I really enjoy writing, makes me feel good. Curt and I have been friends for 20 years, and we've come up with some good country ideals, or good ideals for country songs, but I think I like mine a little more country than Curt does, so I try to write that.

The new CD that I am working on will be all of my songs, there are some co-writers on it, but I like that, two heads are better than one on some songs, and I don't mind sharin'.

  Do you have a favourite song on the album?
  Yes, my favourite song on the CD is "Please, Baby Please", I like that one a lot! Really wasn't happy with a couple of lines in it, so when I went to the studio to do the CD, I asked Curt for some ideals, and that's what we came up with. I really like the arrangement on that song a lot!
  "Shame On Me", has probably been the biggest song on the album for you up to date! Can you tell us about that song?

  Great song! Even if someone else had written it, it's still a good song, especially for dancin'. I came up with the idea one night as I was gettin' ready to go do a show, I was goin' through a divorce at the time, and I guess I was feelin' a little guilty on my part of it.

I had it all done apart from three lines, and during the show that night, the power went out, so I was takin' a break when a friend who co-writes with me came in, and I showed him the song, and we finished it there at the bar with the help of a couple of beers and a flashlight.

 You currently seem to be finding a lot of success in Europe, with your music being played on radio, and doing well in the European charts! How do you feel about that?
  Well, you know Ray, I've been playin' for over 30 years, and I've never been more excited about the music business than I am now. It makes me feel real good that the people here in Europe are enjoying what I'm doin'. I never realised that your people liked my kind of music. It's such a great feelin' for me, and now that I know that, I promise I'll give 'em more of it!
  So what does the future hold for Billy Keeble?
  Well right now I am in the process of doin' a new CD, and like I said earlier, these are all Billy Keeble songs, with the help of some good co-writers. I've got some great tunes on it and I can't wait to get started!
  Is there any chance of a tour of Europe, in particular the UK, in the near future?

Well as far as the touring, we have have already booked a festival in Norway for July 1st, plus some more dates. Also, I'm supposed to be in Penzes, France on August 5th for a festival with George Highfield. I'm lookin' forward to all of it!

As for the UK, I haven't heard anything on it, but we need to get together and talk about that as soon as possible.

  Thanks a lot for your time Billy, It's been great talking to you!

 No, thank you for your time, and having me on your show, it really means a lot to me. Keep it country, and I'll alway's be your fan!


 


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