Billy Earheart Has Seen It All
by Ron Williams
Billy Earheart has been there and done that. 24 years as a member of Hank Williams Jr.s Bama Band, the keyboardist has played gigs all over this country and several others. Oh, and did I mention his Grammy award? He won that as a member of the Amazing Rhythm Aces in 1976 when the band won for their album ‘The End Is Not In Sight (The Cowboy Song)’ in the ‘Country Vocal Performance’ for a group category. He’ll be a member of the ARA for an incredible 40 years in 2014. Earheart, a Fulton, resident, has had his ups and downs in the music biz like most longtime successful musicians making a living playing music on the road.
Earheart has lived and breathed music. He’s played with his share of the big boys of music history. In addition to Hank Jr. and the Aces, Earheart has played with Al Green, Waylon Jennings, B.B. King, Eddie Hinton, Memphis Slim, Kid Rock, Jimmy Buffet, Glenn Frye, Dickie Betts, Ace Cannon, Gatemouth Brown, Kris Kristofferson, Sammy Hagar, Rufus Thomas, and many others. (He’s shared the Bama Band stage with Mobile’s Jimmy Hall, the incredibly talented lead vocalist for the longtime southern rock group, Wet Willie!) He currently tours, also, with North Mississippi bluesman Mark Muleman Massey.
Earheart grew up in Tullahoma, Tn., an hour south of Nashville. From there (starting in 1966) he went to Muscle Shoals, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, and his current home in North Mississippi. In 66′, he started playing a Farfisa Compact keyboard. He later graduated to a Hammond M-2 and later to the big Hammond C-3 (1959 model). While playing with the Aces in the 70’s, he played the C-3 as well as a six-foot Yamaha Grand Piano.
One of Earheart’s fondest and most honored moments was when then-Shelby County Mayor William Morris, by proclamation, named June 28th ‘Billy Earheart Day’ in Memphis, Tennessee. He did so in 1985.
Earheart continues to be a road-weary workhorse musician even into his 60’s. He recently played 12 Bar Lounge in Columbus with Muleman and will play keyboards with Footloose, yet again, next Friday night, May 3rd, at The Junction on Highway 182.