Basic Background Info
Billy Ward's childhood drum teacher, Jack Volk, emphasized the fundamentals: rudiments, rhythmic patterns, the Chapin book, "holding the sticks properly, reading music, and independence." Billy Ward listened to all kinds of music while developing his interests, including James Brown, Miles Davis, The Who, and Charles Mingus.
Billy Ward attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and worked as a sound technician while he studied. While mixing sound for a Thad Jones/Mel Lewis concert, Billy met Mel Lewis. At Lewis' suggestion Billy went to New York City to buy a set of Zildjian cymbals. When he went to buy them, Papa Jo Jones helped him pick out the perfect set. Billy first recorded in a studio at fifteen, when he became the house drummer for a local gospel label.
However, after two years at the Conservatory, Billy Ward withdrew and enrolled at North Texas State University to study jazz. A six-hour lesson from Elvin Jones influenced Billy Ward to pursue jazz and rock rather than symphony and orchestra. Nonetheless, stubborn and headstrong, Billy Ward quit NTSU after just one week.
Billy Ward played in the greater Dallas area for four years before relocating to New York City in search of jazz and improvised music. He quickly started working in local groups, happy for any performance time he could find, including wedding bands. This experience helped Billy Ward grow into a professional.
Billy Ward's solo album, Two Hands Clapping, and eight-year project, features performances with Bill Champlin, John Patitucci, Joy Askew, Glen Phillips, Jim Beard, and Chris Whitley.
Billy Ward has performed with Jim Beard, Bill Evans Supergroup, Leni Stern, B.B. King, George Russell ,Living Time Orchestra, The Knack, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Richard Marx, ex-KISS star Ace Frehley's Comet, Bill Champlin, Robbie Robertson, Yoko Ono, and Chris Whitley. Billy Ward recently completed a year and a half tour with singer Joan Osborne.
Instruments of Choice
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