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BILLY VERA “TIMELESS” CD RELEASE @ Upstairs at Vitello’s Supper Club
April 12 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm$25 – $45
Best known for his 1987 number one smash “At This Moment” with his band, Billy Vera & the Beaters, made famous on the sitcom Family Ties, Billy Vera has had a long and varied career. The first song he pitched to a publisher at age 20, “Mean Old World,” became a hit for Ricky Nelson and kick-started a life as a staff songwriter. Songs recorded by Fats Domino, Barbara Lewis, the Crystals and the Shirelles paid the rent while Billy honed his performing craft in the mob-owned clubs in Times Square.
For Atlantic Records, he hit the charts with the self-penned “Storybook Children,” sung with gospel singer Judy Clay, cousin of Dionne Warwick and Cissy Houston. The pair was an instant sensation at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. Vera’s first solo hit was “With Pen In Hand,” after which the changing 60s culture shoved him aside, as it did so many non-British entertainers.
The 1970s were a time of survival for our boy, but in 1979 Dolly Parton topped the charts with Billy’s song, “I Really Got The Feeling,” leading to a move to Los Angeles. There, he formed the Beaters, soon becoming the hottest band in town and signed a record deal that resulted in the hit “I Can Take Care Of Myself.” The follow-up, “At This Moment,” stalled at #79 when the label closed down.
For the next five years, Vera eked out a living as an actor, appearing in movies like Buckaroo Banzai and The Doors as well as numerous TV shows. When “At This Moment” hit, everything changed. Nine appearances with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and shots on American Bandstand made him a favorite of Dick Clark, who booked him on all of his productions. Moving into record production, Billy and his partner Michael Cuscuna made three top five albums with Lou Rawls, reviving the baritone’s career. Alone, Vera produced Lou’s final album, Rawls Sings Sinatra, which lasted six months on the charts.
More recently, Billy has realized his dream of recording with a big 18-piece band on his album Big Band Jazz, a tribute to the great black songwriters of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. His catalog of songs has been covered by Rawls, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Plant, Tom Jones, Etta James, Eric Burdon and Michael Buble. He won a 2013 Grammy for best album notes for the Ray Charles box set Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the works are a memoir and a documentary, both entitled Harlem To Hollywood.