Photo from Billy Price Facebook – By David Blackwell
Billy Price is gone. Left the city to move to the only place I ever lived other than here – Baltimore. While I certainly wish him better than my ill fated two year sentence there, we will miss him. However did we ever know him?
Billy started out as the singer in Roy Buchanan’s band. Yeah THAT Roy Buchanan who turned down an invitation to join the Rolling Stones. Once upon a time a guitarist could bill himself as the star and not the singer (Ted Nugent, Dweezil Zappa and many others did this). Billy was an obvious stand out and quickly left to front his own band – The Keystone Rhythm Band. That band evolved into The Billy Price Band.
Even though Billy was born in New Jersey (like many other great singers i.e. Sinatra, Springsteen, Bennett, Houston, etc), he lived in Pittsburgh for over 40 years. In their heyday, The KRB played 4 to 6 nights a week all over the East Coast on extended tours to sell out crowds. Billy’s career has taken him from Pittsburgh all over the country and world –Canada, Belgium, France, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, DC, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Jose, Denver—lots of places.
Price has put out 16 records and dvd’s counting his new one coming out next month. He has garnered multiple awards including Blues Foundation record of the year, best R and B band In Pittsburgh awards, and Pittsburgh Legends. His band members over the years read like a who’s who among Pittsburgh all stars: Glenn Pavone, Tom Valentine, Steve Binsberger, Eric Defade, and Jimmy Britton among many others.
Through it all he’s always played in Pittsburgh – a lot! Despite being at it since the 60s he’s been hitting it several times a week especially since he retired from a CMU job a couple years back. He’s one of the handful of musicians on the Mount Rushmore of Pittsburgh music (it only exists in my head).
And now he’s gone.
He didn’t go far and thankfully he will be back often this year. I must admit that I was late to the party and missed too many gigs. I always checked “interested” on Facebook invites but probably only made 8 to 10 gigs a year. I’m guessing you did too. Maybe you always were curious or planned to see him but often didn’t make it. I think part of it was that he always had 3 or 4 gigs that were coming up. Not that the gigs were sparse – they weren’t, but they should have all sold out.
So now …. We need to make sure that when he comes back this year we turn up. He has eight more shows scheduled here this year. You can check them out on his website here. He makes every list of the greatest blue eyed soul singers ever and is a man who can sell a lyric the best this side of Sinatra. Hope to see you there.