Billy Vera is a singer, composer, lyricist, actor, and writer. Born in Riverside, California, he was named after his father, Bill McCord, a news host on NBC-TV. His mother, Ann Ryan, was one of the Ray Charles Singers, appearing regularly on TV with Perry Como.
Billy made his first record while still a teenager. His first hit song – as a singer – was Storybook Children, which he recoded with Judy Clay.
In the meanwhile, the first song he ever presented to a publisher, Mean Old World, became a chart hit for Ricky Nelson. Artists who eventually recorded his work include Fats Domino, the Shirelles, Bonnie Raitt, and Tom Jones; there have been a great many others. Dolly Parton’s recording of Billy’s, I Really Got The Feeling, made it to #1 on America’s country music charts.
After moving to Los Angeles, Billy formed Billy & the Beaters. The group’s most famous song, At This Moment, was of immediate interest to many in the entertainment industry, eventually winding up in an episode of Michael J. Fox’s, Family Ties. The song changed everything in Billy’s life – not only eventually becoming #1 in America, familiar even to people who did not follow his kind of music, but slowly making its way around the world to the point where its melody is immediately recognizable to people from every culture.
Besides Billy’s gift for crafting words and melodies, a number of music followers have noted the clarity of his sung lyrics, paying him perhaps a singer’s greatest testament: outside the sometimes-mentioned Fred Astaire, and Frank Sinatra’s incomparable ability to put across the meaning of the words in a song, few performers have done it more expertly or more clearly than Billy. (Have a listen for yourself one day!)
While all this was happening, Billy on carried two other careers. Via acting, he appeared on stage, on television, and in motion pictures. Many production names are well known: Blind Date; Baywatch; Beverly Hills, 90210; there have been innumerable others. Meanwhile, Billy was quietly putting together radio and voiceover careers. He is widely heard over the air waves and on TV, and though they may not know whose it is, his voice is instantly recognized by millions of people.
Moreover, over these years, a writer’s life has been developing behind the scenes. Besides two books, with others underway, Billy managed to blend his music and literary careers by writing dozens of magazine articles and hundreds of liner notes. As to the latter, Billy had the eventual distinction of winning the “Academy Award” of music: a Grammy for his liner notes for Ray Charles,’ Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles.
Visitors to Hollywood can find Billy’s star on the Hollywood Walk of fame – at the corner of Yucca and Vine, right in front of the Capitol Records Building!