Making A Scene presents an Interview with Billy Prine
The best education a musician can get is playing in bar bands, and the earlier the better.
Billy Prine formed and led his first bar band in Chicago at the tender age of twelve. Chicago in the 1960’s and early 1970’s was wide open, just as FM radio was evolving, with all types of music, but especially the blues from the famed Chess Records and country music with the National Barn Dance, which was a precursor to the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up in such a rich musical city allowed Billy to develop his unique style of American roots music and absorb a myriad of influences firsthand by seeing Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, The Rolling Stones and Chicago’s innumerable blues legends such as Howlin’ Wolf, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Michael Bloomfield, and many more.
As any true child of the late 60’s and early 70’s, Billy headed west ~ “go west young man” ~ to California. Playing in bands in California for several years before heading back east again with his thumb out in the wind catching rides back to Chicago. This unto itself is another education, which took him through the Heartland and even as far south as New Orleans. But the call of family is strong and Billy served as his brother John Prine’s tour manager in the late 70s, which included hanging at Sam Phillips recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee in 1979 while John was recording his Pink Cadillac album with Knox and Jerry Phillips producing. Jerry and Knox’s father – the iconic Sam Phillips – stepped in to produce two tracks for the first time in years at the recording console.
The 1980s saw Billy be one of the original bartenders at the now world famous Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee when it opened in 1982. He was a deejay at the famous Nashville nightspot Chevy’s where he would stroll in for his shift in white tails and a white top hat spinning all the hip records. And while residing in Nashville, Billy would head back to Chicago to blow the doors off the joints there with his band Billy and the Bangers.
Let’s revisit the early years – this is when Billy had the opportunity to see Johnny Cash when he was four years old. Then as the decade of the 60’s progressed, Billy witnessed Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, Flatt and Scruggs, Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours in concert, among others. All these influences along with the Beach Boys and early Fleetwood Mac would inform and influence the artist that Billy Prine is today. You can hear all these influences in his writing and performing while he truly remains his own man dedicated to the blues and country music.
In the 1990s, Billy took his talents in A&R to Oh Boy Records where he curated and produced the series “Live from Mountain Stage” (the iconic and long-running radio show from Charleston, West Virginia) for Blue Plate Records, which was distributed by Oh Boy Records. The 1990’s also found Billy as the overnight weekend deejay on Lightning 100 – WRLT100.1FM in Nashville.
As the new millennium arrived and led into the 2010’s, Billy crafted his performing and songwriting in Nashville. This led to Billy’s new record, “A Place I Used To Know”, slated for release on July 10, 2020, produced by Michael Dinallo. The podcast Prine Time will feature various tracks from the EP and is sure to knock your socks off!