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In the history of rock n roll there is a long tradition of guitarists trading in their jobs as sidemen to become virtuoso frontmen in their own right. Early on Jimi Hendrix played in Little Richards’ band and Eric Clapton worked with numerous groups like John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos before starting his legendary career as a solo artist. Even Stevie Ray Vaughn had a stint as a member of David Bowie’s touring band before going solo. There seems to be something about apprenticing with another artist that brings out the best in some guitar players. After spending years honing their craft it becomes impossible for their unique style and personality to be held back. Such is the case with Billy Walton.
Since the age of 15, Walton has plied his craft in the Asbury Park/New Jersey shore music scene--most notably as the guitarist/vocalist for Boccigalupe & the Bad Boys which features Tony Amato a veteran of the Asbury scene since the 70s (the nickname...Boccigalupe was actually given to him by Bruce Springsteen & Little Steven Van Zandt). During his time with Boccigalupe, Walton has played countless gigs in both the United States and Europe and sat in with numerous of rock luminaries including Springsteen, Gary US Bonds and Stevie Ray’s backing band, Double Trouble.
The 30-year old Walton’s talents are no secret among everyone in the Jersey shore music scene and with the founding of the Billy Walton Band there’s little doubt his reputation will grow far beyond the Garden State. The Billy Walton Band’s sound is a combination of hard blues reminiscent of Hendrix, Clapton and Vaughn mixed with a healthy dose of Warren Hayes and Derrick Trucks.
Live, Walton has always been an explosive performer with jaw dropping talent but with the addition of bassist William Paris and drummer Marcus Croan the Billy Walton band churns out a singular brand of funky blues that has deep roots in both the jam band musical tradition as well as the Jersey shore Walton has cut his teeth on.
Walton’s connection to his heroes is not just through his record collection. Over the years he has developed a close friendship with Roger Mayer, the well-known British guitar effects guru whose devices have played such a pivotal part in rock n roll for nearly every major player since Hendrix.
But regardless of his influences or where he’s from, the Billy Walton Band’s ultimate appeal lies in the unique musical gifts of its founder, Walton himself, who, like his forebears is poised to join the long and storied list of sidemen whose time has come to step out front.