ORIGINAL ROCK R&B ARTIST NEEDS HELP
Billy "The Kid" Emerson is a legendary rhythm and blues musician and a founding father of rock and roll.
Billy got his start with R&B artist Ike Turner, as a member of Ike's band "The Kings of Rhythm." An accomplished singer and songwriter, Billy is perhaps the only artist that recorded for the "big three" independent record labels of the day: Vee-Jay, Chess and Sun Records.
Of all the African American artists that recorded for the groundbreaking Sun Records, it was Billy that had the most influence on a new sound called Rock and Roll. One of his songs "(My Gal Is) Red Hot" is a rock and roll / rockabilly classic.
In addition to touring with Ike Turner, Little Milton, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson and others, Billy "The Kid" wrote songs with blues legends Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy.
In the early 1980's, Billy retired from his secular music career and began his work as The Reverend William R. "The Kishi" Emerson at the Christ Temple Apostolic Church in Chicago. His ministry continued when he moved back to his hometown at the Holy Praise Apostolic Church of Jesus along Florida's Gulf Coast.
At 91 years old, Billy is (as far as we can tell) the oldest surviving artist that recorded at Sun Records, having first recorded there in January 1954 (long before Elvis). You might know Sun as the home of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and many more. In fact, Elvis recorded one of Billy's songs, "When It Rains It Really Pours."
In addition to Elvis, artists such as Rod Stewart, Ann Margaret, Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer, Billy Lee Riley, Robert Gordon and Link Wray, and many more have recorded Billy's songs over the years.
Unfortunately, like many African American artists in the early days of rock and roll, Billy's songwriting credits and rights have been filtered down and mishandled over the years to the point that he receives very little money in the way of royalties.
A military veteran of World War 2 and Korea, Billy depends primarily on his VA and Social Security benefits.
Recently, due to unexplained clerical errors at the VA and Social Security offices, these benefits were cut short and Billy has been unable to meet his monthly expenses. During a recent hospital stay, his power and water were shut off, and his car is in danger of being repossessed. His daily meal is at a local soup kitchen.
He is presently unable to catch up on bills and has recently faced two hospital stays, one resulting in a pacemaker. Thankfully, some friends and family rallied around and Billy's water and electric were recently turned back on.
Billy has served his country in two wars. He preached The Good Word for 30-plus years, and Billy "The Kid" Emerson has given endless smiles and good times through his music to people all over the world.
This campaign was started in hopes that we will be able to bring Billy current on his expenses, as well as take him through the next year with his power on, adequate food, and his car in the driveway. Should we be fortunate in exceeding the goal of this campaign, rest assured that any extra funds will go towards helping make Billy's twilight years easier. For more details on Billy's life, go to BillyEmerson.com .
Thank you for reading and helping to spread the word on Billy "The Kid" Emerson. Your donation is sincerely appreciated.
Apologies for the late update. I wanted to take a minute to let everyone know of the latest goings-on.
A dedicated account has been set up for Billy's campaign funds. His bills are now up-to-date, with a few months cushion in the bank. Arrangements are being made to stock up his pantry.
As mentioned in a previous update, Billy will be presented with a 2017 Florida Folk Life award by the Governor of Florida.
Next week, representatives of the state will be filming Billy talking about his days at Sun, Vee-Jay and Chess. This footage will be used to promote the Florida Folk Life Festival held in May. I hope to have some video clips of the interview to post shortly.
Speaking of the Florida Folk Life Festival, if things go as scheduled, Billy will be on stage for the first time in almost 40 years, singing a few of his old hits!
Thank you again for your kind donations to Billy "The Kid" Emerson.
It was just announced that Billy "The Kid" Emerson will receive a 2017 Florida Folklife Heritage Award in early Spring!
You can find full details on the "Florida Folk Heritage Awards" on Facebook.
Glad to see some recognition for his contributions to American Roots Music coming Billy's way!
Thanks everyone for all your help. There's been interest on this campaign from a local Tampa news program. As soon as it airs I'll post the details and link in a future update.
Two quick ones -
First, please know that your kind donation for Billy's care and support will be managed by Reverend Milton Smith, Billy's cousin who lives nearby.
Second, a local Tampa Bay news station called, and will be doing a segment on Billy today. We hope to have a link as soon as it's posted!
To celebrate this milestone, check out this video of Billy playing a bit of boogie woogie, and sharing a great story about the early days of rock and roll involving his Sun Records song "When It Rains It Really Pours."
Thank you for your continued support of Billy "The Kid" Emerson.
Thanks Greg and all who are helping Billy. Kindness is such an awesome power! We in the UK Soul music community are spreading the word so I am looking forward to seeing the donations rise.
Not sure why this has been shared so many times on Facebook, but the total hasn't gone up in the last hour and a half.