Even though on February 9th, 1964, I was already into music from the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Eddie Cochran, among others, it was on that date I decided I wanted to be a musician. Yep, that was the night the Beatles debuted on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like tens of thousands of other young people watching, I wanted to be in a band and play music.
During the following decade I played in several garage bands, took keyboard lessons, guitar lessons, boys chorus, music theory and drama. After landing a gig in local favorite band The Livin' End in 1969 and playing in a couple of regional bands from Richmond and Newport News, my vocal, front man and guitar abilities began to atract attention. By fall of 1974, I was invited to play with Richmond favorite, Sandcastle.
The 90's to 2009
Time passed, and in fall of 1996 I decided to try playing part time again with a friend I met while in Sandcastle, Stanley Burnell. I played in Stanley's band Journey Back until June 30th, 2002 when we all decided to take a break after almost 6 years of playing 20-25 weekends per year.
After Journey Back I spent the next 2 years developing recording techniques while dealing with health issues and recovering. In 2005, I auditioned for the Outer Banks Music Showcase and performed as a cast member for the 2005 regular season. After advertising for a partner to do a duo project with, I met Cynthia Fordham. Cynthia and I developed It Takes Two, a duo band and played locally for the next 1 1/2 years.
The early years playing at Buckroe Beach, Hampton VA. The Livin' End with Jamie Jones, Mac McCarty, Billy Etheridge,Tommy Espinola and
Sandcastle around mid to late 1977
Sandcastle performing at The White House at Susan Fords high school prom on May 31st, 1975. This is in the East Wing or Green Room of The White House...
Sandcastle was a top 40 and pop rock variety band and a huge favorite around Richmond as well as a large part of the southeast. While playing with Sandcastle I played on the same bills with The Tamms, The Drifters, The Coasters, Chubby Checker, Danny and The Juniors, The Showmen and Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. In spring of 1975 I had the honor of performing at Susan Fords high school prom in the east room of the White House.
I wrote several original songs while in Sandcastle 'You Make Me Feel', 'Free Man' and 'Good Life'. Free Man and Good Life went on to win quarter finalist awards at The American Song Festival. I played with Sandcastle off and on for 6 1/2 years in one capacity or another until spring of 1981 when I took a break from playing music full time.
This was the final lineup during my tenure with The Livin' End. From left to right, standing and sitting, Gary Thon, Mac McCarty, Billy Etheridge, Jamie Jones and Billy Ames
What I have always liked about playing music, is the excitement of the live performance. That "on the cutting edge" feeling of performing for an audience, large or small, is what really excites me about playing music.
Currently, I play acoustic guitar/vocal solo as well as duo performances. Playing time tested classics, one hit wonders and popular tunes from the 60's, 70's, 80's & 90's...
Journey Back promo picture in fall of 1996 with (left to right), Don Bowers, Larry Burnell, Stanley Burnell and Billy Etheridge
It Takes Two performing at Abbey Road, Virginia Beach, VA, with Cynthia Fordham and Billy Etheridge