Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Billy Vera

Ep. 62 - Billy Vera

At This Moment: The Musical Renaissance Man

* Click the orange play button below to begin listening now. Warning: some adult language. Parental advisory advised.

Billy visits the Songcraft world headquarters to share his amazing stories about how a mob-connected call girl helped him land a Ricky Nelson cut; which Elvis hit he sang the demo for; what it was like to go from the audience of Harlem's Apollo Theater (where he saw James Brown's legendary live album recorded) to the stage as a performer; his relationship with Ronnie Spector; why he was glad that Nancy Sinatra decided not to record what would become one of his biggest hits; how "Family Ties" gave him a future; the reason Ray Charles took a razor blade to the tape of a session he produced; and why Bob Dylan waved off Madonna and other party-going A-listers to talk to Billy for hours about one very specific topic.

Billy Vera is a multi-faceted performer, songwriter, actor, producer, bandleader of The Beaters, and entertainment industry Renaissance man. He’s written numerous hit singles, including “Mean Old World” by Rick Nelson, “Make Me Belong to You” by Barbara Lewis, Dolly Parton’s #1 country single “I Really Got the Feeling,” and “At This Moment,” which rocketed to the top of the Billboard pop rankings following a memorable usage on the popular TV show Family Ties. He made his charting debut as an artist on Atlantic Records with the self-penned Top 20 R&B single, “Storybook Children,” a groundbreaking interracial duet with Judy Clay.

Other Billy Vera songs of note include Bonnie Raitt’s recording of “Papa Come Quick (Jody & Chico)" and “Room With a View,” a modern blues classic that’s been recorded by Eric Burdon, Johnny Adams, and Lou Rawls, who released a handful of albums co-produced by Vera . The long list of additional artists who’ve covered Billy’s songs includes The Shirelles, Robert Plant, Fats Domino, Don Williams, Gregory Isaac, Etta James, Nona Hendryx, Tom Jones, Little Milton, Steve Goodman, and George Benson.

Vera launched his acting career with an appearance in the cult classic film Buckaroo Bonzai, and went on to appear in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, the Bruce Willis movie Blind Date, and TV shows such as Alice, Baywatch, Boy Meets World, and Beverly Hills 90210. A noted music historian, Billy has produced over 200 reissue albums, earning multiple Grammy nominations, and a 2013 win for his work on the Ray Charles box set, Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. His historically-oriented radio show, Billy Vera’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, earned him a Peabody Award for Excellence in Radio Broadcasting and led to a career as a voiceover artist. He is the voice of major advertising campaigns by Burger King, Honda, Toyota, Mercury, and others, as well as the singer of TV show theme songs, including Empty Nest and The King of Queens. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and tells the remarkable story of his varied career in the new memoir, Billy Vera: Harlem to Hollywood.


Songcraft's Billy Vera Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy a selection of songs written by Billy. If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.