The History

Bill Payne I was born in 1948 in Washington, D.C. and spent my pre-pubescent years growing up in Northern Virginia, the Tidewater area of Virginia, and Omaha, Nebraska, where I became seriously interested in music. I took clarinet lessons and played in the school band, all the while listening for the sounds of a clarinet in the songs I heard on the radio. Clarinets were a rarity in the country and rockabilly tunes I liked.

When I was 14, my family moved to the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, where I went to a private, male-only military school. Somehow, my dad ended up with a baritone ukelele that I understand was given to him by the great Arthur Godfrey. It looked a lot like a guitar, only with 4 strings, and I had heard a lot of guitars in songs on the radio. I purloined the uke and began learning to play, along with some friends who had guitars. They took a vote and decided that, if I wanted to be in their "band", I had to get a guitar instead of the uke.

So, unbeknownst to my parents, I traded my old clarinet in on a home-made electric guitar, which worked fine considering it was a real clunker. Black, it was. And ugly. But, I was motivated, and, practicing 4 hours a day, my skills improved enough to become part of a band, The Fabulous Furies. We were fabulous, alright! We did practice a lot, though, and we got gigs, too, and acquired some right talented musicians and singers. We were fortunate to open for the Beach Boys in the mid-'60s, and might have had a musical future if the members of the band hadn't all gone to different colleges.

I worked in a music store and began giving guitar lessons as well as playing an Epiphone acoustic guitar and singing at coffee houses and local festivals. Solo gigs. In Knoxville, where I went to U.T., I met The Loved Ones, a local band that was truly fabulous, and, through their influence, pursued music with vigor until the late-'60s. As a married father, I quit playing music in order to chase the buck and be responsible, 2 things I wasn't very good at.

I continued writing songs, however, and, over the next 30 years, the dream of the big stage and the hit songs hibernated just beneath my mainstream world. In 1998, while developing an intense interest in performance poetry, I had three surgical operations in a period of three months. During my recovery, I self-published 2 books of poetry and began using my guitar to write more songs. The open mic stage beckoned, and I soon began performing my stuff in public again. But, being a musician is a "use-it-or-lose-it" thing, and 30 years is plenty of time to lose it.

It's been 8 years since I started playing and singing again, and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be as good as I was way back when. Motivation and persistence have paid off, however, and the result is more and better songs as well as sufficient skills to get out and perform again. I still work my business to keep food on the table, but I have other goals, among them to become a full-time performing songwriter.

I wanted that to happen by the end of 2006, but I realize that may have been a little ambitious for a guy feeling his way through the business. So, I've given myself another year to adjust my pace, at which time I'll take another look.

Bill Payne's Website