This is a story of deja'vu for 3 songwriters and the discovery of a new voice that deserves to be heard by the world.
It all came together when Richard McGibony of Rossville, Georgie won The Country Music Association's American Eagle Award for "1996 Songwriter of the Year" for the song entitled "Love Is Something Worth Holding Onto", sung by Billy James.
It was this award and the "magic" of the voice of Billy James that brought forth a very intriguing story from Richard McGibony, as to how the "Elvis connection" had brought everyone together:
Nearly forty years ago in 1958, an associate of Richard McGibony's, Carol Smith a.k.a. Bobby Carol from Chattanooga, took two of Richard's songs to Country Music's Hall Of Fame songwriter/publisher Cliffie Stone. In those days, Cliffie had been running Central Songs of Hollywood. Cliffie signed the McGibony songs and he later had them recorded by Esquerita on Capital Records and they became hits. Those songs, "I'm Battie Over Hattie" and "I Need You" were to be re-recorded later by Billy James, but more about that in a moment.
Also, in the mid 1950's, Elvis recorded one of Cliffie Stone's biggest hits, "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again". Elvis sang it on his last appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1957.
In the history of American Music, Cliffie Stone was one of America's Treasures. His busy professional life consisted of song writing, publishing, producing albums for other singers, and producing TV shows. Perhaps he is best known for having discovered Tennessee Ernie Ford. He was his manager and produced many of his shows and albums. Cliffie garnered many, many awards during his long career.
Both McGibony and Cliffie were fans of Elvis and in the '60s and '70s McGibony had written songs with Elvis in mind. During those years, McGibony was working with Johnny Cash on his ABC TV show and a movie called "Ridin' The Rails". At that time, McGibony gave his songs to Mr. Cash with the intent that they would be given to Elvis on one of his visits to "The House Of Cash".
Now we jump forward to 1991 when McGibony wrote "Mont Eagle Mountain", a big hit for Johnny Cash on Polygram Records. It was about that same time when McGibony met Ginny Peters, a singer/songwriter from New Zealand. They were both recording for Trend Records in Smyrna, GA. They discovered that they were both fans of the late Elvis Presley and that Ginny was co-writing some songs with Cliffie Stone, who still lived and worked from his base in California.
It is here that the stage is set.
In 1994, McGibony received a demo from his associate Ron Dennis Wheeler from Kalama, WA. On this demo was a voice that couldn't be believed...this wasn't just another Elvis impersonator, this was a natural free flowing vocal sound that had a touch of "The Great One".
Remember those songs that McGibony and others had written with Elvis in mind...well now there was this "voice" of Billy James. Wow!
McGibony immediately sent those songs to Billy james and told him to go into a real studio and get them recorded....McGibony had to find out if this guy was for real or not.
Billy took his time in selecting a studio...this was too important. The big studios around Philadelphia where Billy was from felt too impersonal. He needed to find an engineer who would take the time while also having the skill to capture "The Real Billy James".
The "Magic" happened at the small studio of Cravin Productions in Dover, DE. Once McGibony had received the finished demo from engineer/producer, Leo Craven, he knew that he had something very special.
Billy released his first album "Legends Never Die" in 1995. This album contained some of the songs from "The Elvis Files"-the songs that McGibony and others had written with Elvis in mind. It was recorded on the same equipment that Elvis used to record his album "Misty Blue". (for more about "Legends Never Die" and "The Song That Defied Recording: Legends)
During McGibony's search for other new songs for Billy, he contacted his old friend Ginny Peters and enclosed a copy of Billy's album. Peters immediately heard the "magic" and asked Billy if he would sing the lead vocal to the new song that she and Cliffie Stone had co-written. In advising Cliffie to obtain his permission, she said "You've got to hear this voice!" Cliffie also heard the "magic" and agreed immediately.
Discovering Billy James has brought Richard McGibony full circle, working again with Cliffie Stone who had signed his first two songs so long ago.
On a trip to Nashville to meet Richard for the first time, Billy James was able to meet and tell his story to Walt Trott (editor of the Nashville Musician). After hearing Billy's story and listening to the album, he agreed to write Billy's first Press Release.
As luck would have it, during this trip, Billy followed a suggestion to go see Chuck Adair with World Wide Country Radio (WWCR). Chuck was so impressed that he asked Billy to do a couple live radio interviews. Billy agreed and a few weeks later, this evolved into Billy doing a weekly international radio show which was produced by Leo Craven. Billy played songs from new artists around the country.
More good news came at the end of 1996 when Billy learned that a song that he did, "Cold and Lonesome Life", which he did as a single release at the request of the Corey Family Songwriting Team in California, was reported by "The Music Review Magazine" to have gone to the #1 spot for Independent Country Record's Top 40 list! There were over 200 reporting radio stations nationwide and about 23 of these were Billboard Reporting Stations.
Billy has hosted his own Radio Show for the last 20 years, first on World Wide Country Radio, then on WNJC in New Jersey. His show now airs on the #1 Oldies Station In South Jersey.
Listen to "Legends Never Die With The Outlaw Billy James" streamed live 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You will hear Billy Sing "Legendary Songs". To listen to the live stream and hear archived shows: HOME