Billy took up playing guitar at the age of fourteen, and formed his first band when he was fifteen. The Avengers were formed together with his older brother Angus on lead vocals. They built up a good following around the Clydebank /Glasgow area playing youth clubs, church hall dances and the few beat clubs that were around in the early sixties.
As the band progressed, they lost their lead guitarist (Norrie Reilly) and brought in Ian Campbell. The group’s drummer George Evans left and Jimmy Malloy came in on drums (he later went on to join the Apaches). The Avengers became a bit better known when jack mcabe came in on bass, and their sound developed. By chance they were asked to do a gig at the famous Candlelight Club on Glasgow’s Great Western Road located at the top of Byres Road. The Poets, who were resident there on Wednesdays and Sundays were about to sign their record deal with Andrew Loog Oldham and were down in London negotiating the deal. The Avengers did their first gig in the club and must have greatly impressed the manager as he asked them back to cover for The Poets when they were unavailable. So much so, that they eventually signed a management agreement with him (Bill Murdoch). This was how they eventually became The Trinkets. Angus had left the band to pursue his career in hairdressing, whilst Alan Stevenson joined on drums as Billy took over lead vocals.
At Bill’s suggestion the group changed the name to The Trinkets and they were busier than ever. The lineup was still settling at this point perhaps most evident as they drafted in Lennie Graham as singer which allowed Ian and Billy to concentrate on harmonies. Ian was the songwriter of the group at this time as the repertoire expanded from cover versions to original material and as a result, was picking up valuable exposure on TV and radio.
Eventually Jack McCabe left forcing another line up shuffle resulting in Lennie taking up bass duties, as The Trinkets became a four piece. Lennie though left to join The House of Lords leaving Billy with little option but to take over on bass. and they brought In “jimmy Oakley” on vocals from the Scots of St James. Around this period the group dispensed with Bill Murdoch’s management choosing to sign with Joe Gaffney who managed Glasgow beat band The Beatstalkers. The Trinkets played on for another year or so and eventually broke up around 1968.
With Billy starting to write his own material he and Ian teamed up with jack law to form Greenmantle. They combined their own material with the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash songs gaining a strong reputation up and down the country playing folk clubs, colleges and universities. By 1972 however Ian had left the band as Jack and Billy carried on as a two piece. signing a management deal with Johnnie Morris of Prizegrade management. Johnnie secured a recording deal with Philips and publishing with Barry Mason. After releasing a single called “Terminal” (Rupert Holmes) on the label the boys felt they were not heading in the right direction and ended their contracts with Philips and Barry Mason. They decided to expand the band and brought in Peter Mcbrearty on guitar and Alan Stevenson (ex Trinkets) on drums. As the material heading in a heavier, rockier direction it was felt that the new line up would be a more suitable vehicle. After a year or so Alan left the band, and john Houston came in on drums. Although the group were still on the road and recording in London, Jack had become disillusioned with the music scene and left. Michael Tausney came in as replacement and the band carried on for a period of 6-8 months, but they finally called it a day in 1977.
Billy carried on playing the club scene, and after depping with a number of bands joined a band called Knuckles. The band were one of the top names on the club circuit, covering artists like Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and many more. Knuckles were regulars on the club scene until 1984 when they called it a day. Billy remains good friends with the guys today.he then teamed up with his good friend jim mcginlay and together with tam morrison played the clubscene till 2002.
During all this time Billy kept his hand in at songwriting, and following a chance meeting with old friend, Benny Gallagher in 2004 saw him once more treading the boards doing a show with Benny, Jim Diamond and Snake Davis at the Cottier Theatre In Glasgow. Gallagher and Lyle decided to reform for a couple of charity dates in Largs both of which were sellouts. With Billy on bass Gallagher and Lyle went on to complete a sellout Scottish tour with more to come in the future.
During this hectic time Billy and Jack also decided to get together to record an album of Greenmantle songs with an old friend of Billy’s; George Burton stepping up to the plate as producer. Greenmantle brought out their album “Two Hats” (Hub Records) in 2011 following mastering at the world famous Abbey Road studios with Beatles man Steve Rooke.
Billy is now working regularly in the studio with George Burton at Red Eye Studios in Clydebank where his first solo album “Songs To Sell, Tales To Tell” was recorded.