Billy McPherson ~ Saxophone
1963-1965 & 1997- 2011
BILLY McPHERSON - Early 1964
There just aren't enough words we can use to describe this incredible multi-talented musician. His story is probably best said in his own words and those who know him. The Regents was Billy's first band. From the Regents he attended the University of Puget Sound, then joined the U.S. Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. After the Air Force Band, he played with the Buddy Miles Express, Bruce Hampton, many others before settling in with the League of Decency in Atlanta. Said he never had a job, just played music. Now semi-retired from music, Billy describes himself an an internet entrepreneur.
Billy on stage with the Regents, September 2002
Billy's Brief Autobiography
OK here is a very brief story of my life for the REGENTS site. There are a lot of things left out but here is the basic idea.
BIG BILL's HISTORY in briefs:
I joined the REGENTS sometime in my first year at Clover Park High School, Tacoma, Washington, in 1962.
In 1966 I joined the US Air Force Concert Band in Washington, D.C. I got into the Jazz "big band" and played alto sax and woodwinds. It was a great great band back then but I was such a hippie that the dudes in charge let me out after about 2 years (with an honorable discharge) because I made everybody nervous with my anti-Vietnam war talk, my mustache and wire rim glasses. I "retired" as a Staff Sergeant.
In 1968, I went to Hollywood, California, and joined up with the Buddy Miles Express and played the rock scene. We opened up for all kinds of groups like the Cream, Jimmy Hendrix, Deep Purple, Sly and the Family Stone and others.
I wound up in Seattle in 1969. I met Richard Rossiter by accident at a concert at the Eagles Ballroom. He was with Sue, his first wife. He gave me a hit of... (something) and I wandered off into the night and never saw Richard again. I was lost but searching for a place in the music world.
I have found Richard again, thanks to the spearhead of the REGENTS Reunion and Revival Project - Commander Sammy Carlson.
In Seattle I joined a band called Ballin' Jack but quit and went back to Los Angeles where I started doing studio work. In those days I really screwed up and blew some amazing opportunities in the music business because I wanted to really "play" and not get stuck in the bland sterile Los Angeles music studio scene.
I wound up in Atlanta around 1971 and stayed there because I was able to play the lounge scene and not travel. I played with some good jazz guys of which the most notable one was the Sammy Duncan (now deceased) Jazz Band (Chicago style swing - Atlanta style Dixieland - that was "real playing" for sure).
I started the League of Decency with Tommy Dean (Bovis Presley) and played many instruments. I got into guitar pretty heavy and used it all the time. We worked a lot and became very popular. The band is still going strong too!
After 15 years in Hotlanta, I got sick of the hot sticky depressing pollen drenched weather and split back to Seattle. I joined up with some good blues guys and played the Seattle scene for a few years. I was gigging with Richard Dangel (The Wailers of Tacoma original lead guitar) and Dick Powel (harmonica and keys). That was some great music. We rocked the Pioneer Square blues scene constantly. I even hobby rocked with such local cats as Barry Curtis (Kingsmen), Andy Parypa and Larry Parypa (Sonics) and the icon of northside hobby rockers - Little Bobby Sumpner (AKA Jeffy Simmons).
While I was in Atlanta I got deeply into the science of mycology and I have become a self employed professional research Mycologist now residing in the Olympic rain forest of Western Washington on Lake Quinault (my first real job).
Billy's New Business
LAKE QUINAULT MUSIC SCHOOL
Billy's New Interest
The most amazing thing I have actually come up with in this life hasn't made me any money. I discovered something about STONEHENGE and built a model to describe the discovery. It is my contribution to science and the REGENTS Website - getting hotter as time goes by ("As Time Goes By" - an old tune Bovis and I used to play with the League of Decency.). See my STONEHENGE page.
Olympic Rain Forest
September 10, 1999
What Others Say About Billy
From Hitomi Ishikawa Interview with Billy, January 1999: "Billy: I started (playing music) late - in the 8th grade. Junior high school band - clarinet. I was born digging Sousa and classical music. I loved Sousa marches and stuff for concert band. I must have been a musician in a past life. The urge to play was strong and I couldn't resist. Hitomi: Which band or bands influenced you early on? Billy: No bands - just composers and orchestras. But I got into jazz when I got into the 9th grade. JUST LISTENING - no comprehension.
Barry Curtis, The Kingsmen: "Maybe you know this, but I did a lot of jamming and some actual gigs with Billy McPherson a couple years back -- in... "The Casuals." Great fun. Once we appeared as "Big Bill and the South Tacomans." Although I'm from Yakima originally, at least Andy Parypa was playing bass to lend some credence to such a name."
Tommy Dean, The League of Decency: Billy, introduced as "The Bhagwan, on the Bazooka of Love" was an unbelievably talented tenor sax man. If, in the course of one of his solos, he hit a note I thought was too weird, I'd might make a face. Sixteen bars later you'd better believe he'd hit that same note for all he was worth and put that note right back in my face AND make it WORK in context with whatever we were playing. No matter what! The only cat I know who could make contrariness work as a musical concept. I will always be indebted to Billy, a.k.a. Seeps, Wade Stiffle, Ben "Pops" Thorton, The Bhagwan. I spent every weekend for four years: from 1984 to 1988 on stage with Billy McPherson. We were going to be "The Del Psychos" but one of the club owners spotted our banner and said, "That will never do!" So Billy says, "So they want something decent do they? We'll be The League of Decency!" and it stuck.
1946 - 2011
Robert "Billy" William McPherson
The Daily World - Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Robert “Billy” William McPherson of Aberdeen passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 19, 2011, with his family by his side. Robert was born August 18, 1946, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to Roy and Phina (Bekerman) McPherson. He was raised in Lakewood, Wash. and graduated from Clover Park High School in 1964, and attended Puget Sound University. He had lived in Atlanta, Hollywood, Chicago and New York and Seattle before moving to Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Park in 1998.
On July 28, 1991, Billy married Margaret “Micki” Kreigh Stewart in Seattle, Wash. She survives him at the family home. Billy served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam as a Staff Sergeant and was with the Honor Guard for returning Vietnam vets. He was a brilliant musician; he played tenor sax, flute, clarinet, guitar and piano. He played for the U.S. Air Force “Airmen of Note” Band at the White House and Pentagon. He also played with Buddy Miles, Albert Collins, League of Decency, Dukes of Swing, the Elks National Band and High Voltage. He was intrigued with Stonehenge modeling and mycology.
In addition to his loving wife, Margaret “Micki” McPherson; he is survived by his step-daughter, Shyleen Atkinson of San Malo, France; his sister, Linda Majeroni of Itnaca, N.Y.; sister-in-law, Judy Kreigh of Aberdeen; brother-in-law, Thomas Kreigh of Loganville, Ga.; sister-in-law, Kathy Hatcher of Conyers, Ga. and many nieces and nephews. Memorial donations are suggested to PAWS of Aberdeen and Harbors Home Health & Hospice. To sign the online book of memories please visit www.harrisonfamilymortuary.com; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Arrangements are by Harrison Family Mortuary of Aberdeen