Billy Vera (born William McCord; May 28, 1944) is an American singer, actor, writer and music historian.
Vera was born in Riverside, California. He began his singing career in 1962 as a member of the Resolutions. He went on to write several songs throughout the early 1960s, writing for the likes of Barbara Lewis, Fats Domino, The Shirelles and Ricky Nelson. He also wrote the garage band classic, "Don't Look Back", performed by the Remains.
In 1967 Vera penned a song entitled "Storybook Children" and brought it to Atlantic Records. The decision to place former gospel singer Judy Clay with Vera in a white-black duet to record the song was a commercial and artistic success and a subsequent album by Vera and Clay remains a highpoint for soul duet partnerships. He would have a solo hit later that same year with the Bobby Goldsboro penned "With Pen In Hand" which was also the name of his next album.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s Vera focused on songwriting including "I Really Got the Feeling" which was a number 1 hit for Dolly Parton. He also participated in several archival and music preservation projects, including fronting the band at the 1972 Reunion concert of Dion & the Belmonts.
Living in Los Angeles, and writing songs for Warner Brothers, Vera and his old friend, bass player Chuck Fiore decided to put together a band to play the local club scene. Modeling their band on 1950s Rock and roll bands, The Beaters were born. They featured a horn section, as well as a pedal steel guitar, along with drums, piano, Fiore's bass, and Vera's lead guitar and vocals. As a result of the buzz the band generated, Alfa Records offered them a recording contract. They recorded the band live, and in 1981 yielded the minor hits "I Can Take Care Of Myself," which reached #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and "At This Moment," which (initially) charted at #79.
By 1982, Alfa Records was out of business, but Vera and the Beaters continued to play the clubs of Southern California. In 1985, a producer from the TV show Family Ties was in the audience to hear the band play "At This Moment." The song was featured in the fall of 1985 as a backdrop for romantic interludes between characters Alex (Michael J. Fox) and Ellen (Tracy Pollan). Viewers responded by clamoring for the song, and in 1986, Rhino Records released By Request: The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters, which featured the song. The single became a number one hit in its re-release, and remained on the charts for 15 weeks.
Before "At This Moment," Vera had a small career in movies and television including appearances in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and soap opera Days of our Lives. "At This Moment" propelled his movie career as he and the Beaters were featured prominently in the Bruce Willis movie Blind Date. He would go on to star in one episode of a TV series, Wiseguy and would have several other roles on shows such as Baywatch, Boy Meets World, and Beverly Hills, 90210 as well as being a guest on the 'Super Dave Osborne Show'. These roles would lead him into singing theme songs for TV shows, such as Empty Nest and King of Queens, as well as voice acting on Cartoon Network cartoons. He served as band leader on Rick Dees' short-lived late night talk show "Into the Night" on ABC in the early 1990s.
During that period, Vera co-produced three Lou Rawls albums with his friend, Michael Cuscuna, for Blue Note Records, including At Last, which reached #1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. Vera also produced Rawls's final album, Rawls Sings Sinatra, which remained on the jazz charts for over six months. Rawls recorded seven of Billy's songs, including "If I Were A Magician" and "You Can't Go Home." In 1990, Vera's tune, "Papa Come Quick (Jody & Chico)," was included on Bonnie Raitt's album, Luck Of The Draw, the biggest of her career, selling over five million copies.
Currently the Beaters are still playing the California club scene, and Vera continues his work as a music historian. He has helped produce, archive, and write liner notes for over 200 reissue albums and sets, from artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Louis Prima, and more.
Billy is currently voicing intros on the George Lopez TV show and continues working as one of the top voice over artists in Los Angeles. His song, "At This Moment" is included on Michael Buble's #1 CD, Crazy Love. Vera's latest CD is Hopeless Romantic: The Best Of Billy Vera & The Beaters, on Shout Factory Records, available on amazon.com and other sites.
Billy Vera also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right in front of the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, California.
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