Billy Francis was an original member of Dr Hook.
In the very early days, the band was Ray Sawyer, George Cummings, myself and a drummer named Teddy.
We first played at The BandBox in Union City, New Jersey.
Every once in awhile Ray would play the old, half tuned piano that was permanently up on their little stage.
There was talk of a friend that played Hammond organ back down in Mississippi and that they might give him a call and see what he was doing.
I woke up one morning with someone shaking my foot.
That 'someone' was a guy with a long, dark moustache, wearing a wool hat and a Navy peacoat.
It was Billy.
He'd arrived from Biloxi, driving his little red Mustang convertible, but his organ had not.
It had been shipped and was lost somewhere in transit.
We'd recently moved clubs and were playing at a place called The Playpen (with a sign outside that read 'TOO EXCITING TOO EXPLAIN!') in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
The clientele were a bunch of old soaks who couldn't care less if there was a band or not.
There was a piano in the room with a raggedy little Xmas set up tree on it.
We asked if our new keyboard player could play it until his Hammond arrived, but the owner refused, saying the sound would vibrate the tree off on to the floor.
So, Billy sat for a few nights and listened.
Unsurprisingly, we didn't last very long at The Playpen and wound up in another dive down in Jersey City called Oyster Bay.
By that time, Teddy the drummer was long gone, but the organ had been located and Billy was officially a player in the band.
It's well documented that Hook had a pretty long and successful run over the next 15 years.
Billy was in the group and on the road from the first club and college dates thru the (One and Only) Farewell Tour in 1985.
He and I were pretty closely in contact for the next several years, but had lost touch, personally, in the last decade or so.
I recv'd a few email some weeks ago telling me that Billy had passed away, but I already knew.
I had been contacted by his family and a friend of his.
A couple of posts were also stuck in the middle of our busy guestbook, but I didn't feel that's where they should stay.
There are only a few of us original members of the band still around these days.
I could say that we've all had our differences over the years.
They're almost as big a part of our 'legend' as the music.
The fact remains that anytime you ever saw or will ever see the original Dr Hook (with or without The Medicine Show) Billy was and will be there.
That's what will last.
January 16th 1942 - May 23rd 2010
June 15th 2010