As an American, I had to have his story explained to me, because I knew him in a number of different settings, but none for what he is legendary: the lead singer of Billy and the Aztecs, a wildly popular and iconic band from the 1960's Down Under.
I knew Billy for over ten years during his expatriate residency in Los Angeles, from which he returned to Sydney, Australia where he enjoyed an incredible resurgence of nostalgic popularity for his iconic music and his indomitable and charismatic personality, and legendary life. He died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the peak of this renewed celebrity.
Billy was a member of the Hole in the Wall Gang, where we rode together in Wyoming, and the musical composer for the computer game It Came From the Desert as well as the Paramount television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and War of the Worlds, both of which I worked on; and have fond memories of time spent with him. Our wives were also friends, and so our common time together witnessed select intimate instances where he sometime shared the occasional vivid insight into his kaleidoscopic journey through life, and the impressive spirit and will which carried him through it.
I saw first-hand Billy take a head over heels tumble off his horse in Wyoming, where his horse lost its footing, as we all rode down a steep rocky hillside in the high country. He came up from the wreck with a brilliant smile and a robust laugh, exuberant from the experience, as he subsequently showed his crushed canteen which had been strapped to his horse’s saddle, evidence of what could have happened to him. Billy and I later both got our buckles as members of the Hole in the Wall Gang, of which this Wyoming ride had been part.
Billy never ceased his spirit of continually reinventing himself. While I knew him he was not only the music composer for computer games and television series, but also as the author a novel based on his early life in Sydney that became a best seller in Australia, and he also formed a new rock group – The Zoo – with Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac). But if you were with him, he was the most down-to-earth fellow, engaged and sincerely interested in who you were and what your life was.
What I learned from Billy was never to settle for the status quo, and never be ruled by what people think of you, but always face our time on earth with a positive sense expectation and of embracing the wonders life has to offer. Another value Billy displayed, despite the seemingly wild chapters of his life, was the importance protecting and preserving his family life; he also had two daughters he dearly loved and supported. This was the element he talked about delivering balance to his life, despite the glamorous privileges and glories he knew in his storied life.