Billy Hill

Induction Year: 1982

Birth Name: William Joseph Hill

Birth Date: 07-14-1899

Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts

Death Date: 12-24-1940

Place of Death: Boston, Massachusetts

Billy Hill was one of the first professional New York songwriters to tailor material for the country music market. He was violinist, classically trained at the New England Conservatory of Music. He left his Massachusetts home at age 17 and traveled to Montana to work as a cowboy, and then to California to work as a surveyor and prospector. The imagery of the West never left him.

He went to New York in 1930 in pursuit of a Tin Pan Alley songwriting career, though he had to work as a doorman at a hotel while struggling to make his mark in music. His earliest country success occurred that year with "They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree." In 1933, he wrote his first classic, "The Last Round-Up." It was much recorded by both pop and country stars of the day and was featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 on Broadway.

Among Hill's many subsequent Western and country themed songs are "Wagon Wheels," "Empty Saddles," "Colorado Memories," "The Old Spinning Wheel," "Oregon Trail" and "The Call of the Canyon."

He achieved songwriting immortality with a trio of songs that became huge successes on multiple occasions. The first to appear was "Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue)." It first became a major pop hit in 1933, then was revived on the country charts by Ernest Tubb in 1949 and by Jim Reeves with Patsy Cline in an electronically created posthumous duet in 1982.

"In the Chapel in the Moonlight" initially became a hit in 1936. Kitty Kallen revived it in 1954, and Dean Martin brought it back onto the charts in 1967. Like "Have You Ever Been Lonely," it has been recorded by dozens of others.

Hill's enduring "Glory of Love" was a pop smash for the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1936. The Five Keys made it a #1 rhythm & blues hit in 1951. Otis Redding successfully revived it again in 1967. Bette Midler's performance of it in the 1988 movie Beaches brought the song renewed popularity, and it continues to be recorded today.

Billy Hill sometimes wrote under the pseudonym "George Brown." He died of heart failure on Christmas Eve in 1940 at the age of 41 in a Boston hotel room. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 1970.

"Empty Saddles "

(written with Keirn Brennan)

The Sons of the Pioneers1936 
Bing Crosby1936 
Bunny Berigan & the Rhythm Makers1936 
Frank Sinatra1943 
Roy Rogers1947 
Dick Haymes1952 
Jimmy Wakely1956 
Johnnie Ray1959 
Johnny Bond1961 
Burl Ives1962 
Tex Ritter1962 
The Sons of the San Joaquin1993 
Rex Allen & Don Edwards1995 

"Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue)"

Ted Lewis Orchestra1933 
Ozzie Nelson Orchestra1933 
Ray Noble & His Orchestra1934 
W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys1938 
Julia Lee1946 
Nellie Lutcher1948 
Ernest Tubb1949 #2 country
Chet Atkins1954 
Buddy Holly1956 
Rosalie Allen1957 
Teresa Brewer1960 #84 pop
Della Reese1960 
The Browns1960 
Patsy Cline1961 
Jimmy Dean1962 
Wanda Jackson1962 
Warner Mack1962 
Jim Reeves1962 
Duane Eddy1963 
Slim Whitman1963 
The Caravelles1964 #94 pop
Bobby Vinton1965 
Dave Dudley1966 
Jim Ed Brown1967 
Charlie Rich1969 
Jim Reeves & Patsy Cline1982 #5 country
Cal Smith1983 

"In the Chapel of the Moonlight"

Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm Orchestra1936  
Henry “Red” Allen1936  
Ruth Etting1937  
The Ranch Boys1941 
Kitty Kallen1954 #4 pop
The Orioles1954 
The Four Knights1954 #30 pop
The Four Aces1955 
Johnny Burnette1960 
The Billy Vaughn Orchestra1962 
Faron Young1964 
The Bachelors1965 #32 pop
Patti Page1967 
Dean Martin1967 #1 adult contemporary, #25 pop
Chet Atkins1976 

"Lights Out"

Eddy Duchin1936 
Victor Young & His Orchestra1936 
The Ranch Boys1941 
Nat King Cole1961 

"On a Little Street in Singapore"

(written with Peter DeRose)

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra1939 
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra1940 #13 pop
Gene Krupa & His Orchestra1940 
Frank Sinatra with Harry James1944 #27 pop
The Andrews Sisters1945 
Dave Brubeck1952 
Les Brown1956 
The Manhattan Transfer1976 
Mel Tormé1998 

"Oregon Trail"

(written with Peter DeRose)

Tex Ritter1935 
Eddie Dean1935 
The Prairie Ramblers1935 
The Girls of the Golden West1935 
The Sons of the Pioneers1963 
Burl Ives1966 

"Prairie Lullaby"

Jimmie Rodgers1933 
The Light Crust Doughboys1935 
Michael Nesmith1973 
Leon Redbone1981 
Maria Muldaur1992 
Doc Watson1994 
Diana Krall2012 

"Put on an Old Pair of Shoes"

(written with Dedette Hill)

Riley Puckett1934 
Louis Prima1934 
The Prairie Ramblers1935 
The Browns1959 

"That's When Your Heartache Begin"

(written with Fred Fisher, William Raskin)

Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm Orchestra1937 
The Ink Spots1941 
Elvis Presley1957 #58 pop
The Silver Beetles1960 

"The Call of the Canyon"

Gene Autry1940 
Glenn Miller Orchestra1940 #10 pop
Duke Ellington Orchestra1940 
The King Sisters1940 
Ted Weems & His Orchestra1940 
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1940 #14 pop
Jimmy Wakely1955 
The Okeh Wranglers2001 

"The Glory of Love"

The Benny Goodman Orchestra1936 
The Count Basie Orchestra1936 
Rudy Vallee1936 
Patti Page1949 
Amos Milburn1950 
Kid Ory1950 
The Five Keys1951 #1 R&B
Woody Herman's Third Herd1951 
Big Bill Broonzy1955 
The Platters1956 
Kay Starr1958 
Mel Tormé1958 
Peggy Lee1959 
The Roommates1961 #49 pop
The Cleftones1961 
Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford1962 #75 pop
Charles Brown1963  
Floyd Cramer1963 
Roy Hamilton1964 
Dean Martin1966 
Otis Redding1967 #19 R&B, #60 pop
Vic Damone1968 #15 adult contemporary
Eddy Arnold1969 
Gladys Knight & the Pips1970 
The Dells1971 #30 R&B, #92 pop
Rosemary Clooney1983 
Bette Midler1988 
Diane Schuur1994 
Keb' Mo'1996 
Tom Jones & Jools Holland2004 
Cliff Richard2005 

"The Last Round-Up"

Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians1933 
The Benny Goodman Orchestra1933 
Bing Crosby1933 
Rudy Vallee1933 
Gene Autry1933 
The Beverly Hill Billies1934 
Gene Krupa & His Orchestra1935 
Billy Hill1940 
Johnny Bond1945 
Foy Willing & the Riders of Purple Sage1946 
The Sons of the Pioneers1947 
Rex Allen1956 
Johnny Western1956 
Jimmy Wakely1956 
The Ames Brothers1958 
Dick Curless1958 
Johnnie Ray1959 
The Cleftones1962 
The Boston Pops Orchestra1962 
Burl Ives1963 
Dean Martin1966 
Grady Martin1977 
Riders in the Sky1991 

"The Old Covered Bridge"

Martin & Roberts1933 
Vernon Dalhart1934 
The Morris Brothers1939 

"The Old Spinning Wheel"

The Frank Luther Trio1934 
Riley Puckett1934 
Ray Noble & His Orchestra1934 
Victor Young & His Orchestra1934 
Bob Crosby & His Orchestra1936 
The Ranch Boys (remake)1941 
Hoagy Carmichael1942 
Tiny Hill & His Hilltoppers1944 
Chet Atkins1954 
Hank Snow1954 
Slim Whitman1963 
Norman Blake1976 

"The West, A Nest and You"

Al Clauser & the Oklahoma Cowboys1937 
The Banjo Kings1954 

"There's a Cabin in the Pines"

Cliff Carlisle1933 
Louis Armstrong1933 
Bing Crosby1933 
Ray Noble & His Orchestra1933 
Mildred Bailey1933 
The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra1933 

"There's a Home in Wyoming"

(written with Peter DeRose)

Elton Britt1933 
The Ranch Boys1941 
Roy Rogers1946 

"They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree"

(written with Edward Eliscu, William Raskin)

Gene Autry1930 
Carson Robison1930 
Frankie Marvin1931 
Frank Luther1934 
The Tune Wranglers1936 
The Rice Brothers Gang1939 
Red Foley1945 

"Wagon Wheels"

(written with Peter DeRose)

The Frank Luther Trio1934 
The Paul Whiteman Orchestra1934 
The Ray Noble Orchestra1934 
The Ranch Boys1941 
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1944 
Roy Rogers1946 
The Riders of the Purple Sage1948 
Sammy Davis Jr.1949 
Sy Oliver1950 
The Ravens1952 
Ray Conniff1956 
The Ames Brothers1957 
The Platters1957 
Sonny Rollins1957 
Johnnie Ray1959 
The Sons of the Pioneers1959 
Tex Ritter1962 
Frankie Laine1962 
Lorne Greene1962 
King Curtis1962 
Eddy Arnold1965 
Sleepy LaBeef1996 

"When I Was a Boy From the Mountains"

(written with Jack Kapp, Victor Young)

The Beverly Hill Billies1932 
Mac & Bob1932 
The Frank Luther Trio1934 

Billy Hill

Induction Year: 1982