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Billy Byrd
Original name: William Lewis Byrd
Birth: Feb. 17, 1920
Nashville
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA
Death: Aug. 7, 2001
Nashville
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA

Country Musician. He was one of the first country musicians to make a name for himself with the electric guitar. Born William Lewis Byrd in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of ten he displayed an impressive level of skill and technique on the guitar, and his parents hoped he would pursue a career in classical music. He began performing with his older brother James, and made his radio debut on WLAC in Nashville in 1935. When he was 18, he was hired as a backup musician on the Grand Ole Opry, and began working that same year with the Tennessee Valley Boys, and later with various dance bands in the Nashville area. During World War II he enlisted in the US Navy and served as a cook on a destroyer escort. After the war, he resumed his music career in Nashville, initially as a member of Wally Fowler & His Georgia Clodhoppers, where he remained until 1948. That year he went to Louisiana, joining the Louisiana Hayride and playing with Curly Williams & the Georgia Peach Pickers. In 1949 he joined Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, succeeding Tommy "Butterball" Page as lead guitarist on the single "Tennessee Border No. 2." As a member of the Texas Troubadours he became a star, with Tubb mentioning him by name ahead of each solo, and his solos were among the prettiest, most fluid, and memorable in country music. He appeared on hundreds of songs, among them "Two Glasses Joe," "Jealous Loving Heart," "Answer the Phone," and "Letters Have No Arms," from 1949 until 1959, and was also prominently featured as part of Tubb's appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and other television shows. His playing made the electric guitar a popular instrument among country audiences, and in 1950 he collaborated with Hank Garland in the design of the 'Byrdland' guitar for Gibson Guitar. He was also a well-known sessions musician with other well-known artists, including Tex Ritter, Webb Pierce, Burl Ives, Cowboy Copas, Ferlin Husky, Marty Robbins, Little Jimmy Dickens, George Morgan, Eddy Arnold, Johnny Horton, Leon Russell, and the Oak Ridge Quartet, and shuttled between Tubb's and Red Foley's bands. In addition to the electric guitar, he was also renowned for his skill on the mandolin, the banjo, and the bass. In 1959 he left the Texas Troubadours to pursue a solo recording career with the newly formed Warner Brothers label and recording three albums, "I Love a Guitar" (1960), "Lonesome Country Songs" (1962), and "The Golden Guitar of Billy Byrd" (1964). In 1964 he moved to California to join fiddle player Gordon Terry. He later moved back to Nashville to continue as a sessions musician, and was also featured throughout the early and mid-'60s as a guitarist on the local morning television program "The Eddie Hill Show." At the end of the 1960s he briefly rejoined the Texas Troubadours but was never fond of touring, and he left once again in 1970 only to return briefly a few years later before leaving for good in 1973. Later, he participated on Pete Drake's Ernest Tubb tribute album, "The Legend and the Legacy" (1979). He died of natural causes in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 81. He was portrayed by actor Scott Michael Campbell in the film "Crazy" (2008). (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Charles Edward Byrd (1893 - 1973)
  Mary Rebecca Wood Byrd (1901 - 1983)
 
 Sibling:
  James Jordan Byrd (1918 - 1937)*
  Billy Byrd (1920 - 2001)
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Mount Olivet Cemetery
Nashville
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA
GPS (lat/lon): 36.14795, -86.72849
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Ron Moody
Record added: Oct 19, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 5860412
Billy Byrd
Added by: Anthony S
 
Billy Byrd
Added by: Paul Pierce
 
Billy Byrd
Added by: Paul Pierce
 
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Remember your guitar playing so well. Famous with Ernest Tubb, saying aye Billy Byrd now.
- Patricia Lowe
 Added: Feb. 7, 2016

- Robert David Miller
 Added: Aug. 29, 2015

- Kerry Rae Smith Moser
 Added: Mar. 9, 2015
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Current ranking for this person: (4.2 after 44 votes)
 

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