Beschreibung und Texte
Billy Ward was born on September 19th 1921. He grew up in Philadelphia and was the second of three sons of Charles Williams and Cora Bates Williams. He won an award for a grand piano composition at the age of 14.
Following a stint in the U.S. Army he studied music in Chicago.
Billy then attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York.
There he met a talent agent called Rose Marks, who became his business associate and songwriting partner.
The duo put together various groups, including the Ques, whose line-up comprised of Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Charlie White (tenor), Joe Lamont (baritone), and Bill Brown (bass).
Billy played piano for the group, as well as working on the groups business affairs. In 1950, Rene Hall recommended them to Ralph Bass of Federal Records, and they were signed, renaming themselves The Dominoes.
Their first single release was entitled, 'Do Something For Me', which climbed the R&B charts in the summer of 1950.
The group released 'Sixty Minute Man', which reached number 1 on the R&B chart in 1951 and remained there for a solid 14 weeks.
Whilst the group toured, the group began enduring internal disputes. Whilst Jackie Wilson was part of the group, he stated that Billy was a strict disciplinarian.
The Dominoes group name was owned by Billy and Rose, who had control over all of the members salaries. Clyde McPhatter was paid very poorly, rumours stating that Billy paid his singers $100 a week, deducting amounts for various expenses.
Charlie White and Bill Brown both left the group in 1951 to form The Checkers. They were replaced by James Van Loan and David McNeil (previously of The Larks).
In 1952, the Dominoes hits continued, with 'Have Mercy Baby' reaching number 1 in the R&B charts for 10 straight weeks in 1952.
Further records were credited to 'Billy Ward and His Dominoes'.
In early 1953, Clyde McPhatter left to form The Drifters.
His replacement was Jackie Wilson, who had been coached by Clyde. Joe Lamont and David McNeil then left and were replaced by Milton Merle and Cliff Givens. With Jackie singing lead on 'You Can't Keep A Good Man Down'.
In 1954, Billy relocated the group to the Jubilee imprint, later relocating to the Decca label. The group had a number 27 pop hit with 'St. Therese of the Roses', with Jackie on tenor.
The Dominoes went through a succession of personnel changes.
In 1957, Jackie left for a solo career and was replaced by Gene Mumford of The Larks. They then relocated to the Liberty Records imprint, and scored a number 13 pop hit with 'Stardust', which reached number 13 in the U.K. Singles Chart in 1957.
The song proved to be their last major success, although various line-ups of the group continued recording and performing into the 1960s.
They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006.
Billy Ward died in Los Angeles, California on the February,16th 2002 at the Centinela Park Convalescent Hospital.