Richard Isaac Banks
(1878 - March 1915), who changed his name to Billy Williams
after leaving his birthplace of Australia
, was one of the most recorded popular entertainers of his and indeed of all time. His recordings sold in their thousands long after his early death in 1915. Born in Melbourne
, Williams tried a number of jobs before embarking on an entertainment career which led him to come to England
in 1899. He became a popular entertainer in the music halls singing what were known as chorus-songs - he also appeared in pantomime
It was in 1906 that Williams made his first recordings and from that date he recorded prolifically on cylinder and disc.
In 1910, he returned for an extended tour of his native Australia where he was greeted with wild enthusiasm. Returning to England later in that year, he continued his business relationship with songwriter Fred Godfrey
. The two had what might be described as a "song factory" and worked in partnership (although it is believed that Godfrey did all of the song writing).
The year 1912 seemed to be the zenith of Williams' career - he appeared in the first Royal Command Performance
of that year and achieved glowing reviews in the national press. Sadly this fame was not to last as Williams became ill in late 1914 and died in Hove near Brighton in March 1915, the proximate cause being complications after an operation, but rumoured to be connected with "previous social excesses." (Myerscough, book to CD set,... Read More