As a boy,
Billy Jenkins (b.1956, Bromley, Kent) sang in occasional choirs at St.
Paul's and Westminster Abbey, toured and recorded for legendary record
label boss Clive Davis as a teenager with art rock band Burlesque (1972-77),
performed as a young adult with 'alternative musical comedy' duo Trimmer
& Jenkins (1979-82) and drummer Ginger Baker before founding (in 1981)
the VOGC (the Voice of God Collective - 'The voice of the people
is the voice of God' [attrib. Plato and others] - to which BJ adds,
'...and the religion is music!' ).
Since then he has produced
a large body of over 40 recorded albums including 'Scratches of Spain',
'Motorway At Night', 'Entertainment USA' and 'Music For Two Cassette Machines'.
Some of his recordings are about his SE London environs and include 'Sounds
Like Bromley', 'Greenwich', 'Still Sounds Like Bromley' and 'Suburbia'.
- 93 he lived and worked at Wood Wharf Rehearsal Studios in Greenwich,
where he welcomed an average of 26.6 musicians through the doors every
Projects have included recording and
performing with The Fun Horns of Berlin, improvised musical boxing Big
Fights, Music For Low Strung Guitar, directing Anglo-Belgium and London
Meets Vienna ensembles, improvising to film, collaborating in words and
music with Ian McMillan, Ben Watson, Kate Pullinger a.o., composing and
performing with The Gogomagogs, compositions for six guitars, 'The Drum
Machine Plays The Battlemarch Of Consumerism'
for six drumkits, curating the Vortex World Cup Jazz Ball and sporadic
festival and club appearances on the continent and UK.
of the Arts Council of England Improvised Touring panel from 1993 - 98.
He has been nominated for
a Paul Hamlyn Award three times - in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
he was Visiting Tutor in Guitar Techniques at Lewisham F.E.College (1990-96),
guest lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music '95, Guest big band director
at Middlesex University '96. Ensemble Masterclasses at the International
Summeracademy Freie Kunstschule, Berlin '97. 'Moving On' music workshops
with Andy Sheppard a.o., Belfast '99. Musical Director and workshop leader
for Greenwich Young People's Jazz Orchestra, Blackheath 2000. School Workshops
with the Pied Piper Project, Yorkshire, March 2001. Visiting Artist on
the Jazz Faculty at Trinity College of Music (2001-2) and at the Royal
Academy of Music from 2002 to 2009.
In 2002 he created and
presented over forty live two hour Sunday lunchtime radio shows in London
on Resonance 104.4FM, entitled 'One Way Single Parent Family Favourites'.
2006/07, ‘Billy Jenkins' Songs Of Praise' was created especially for a
short UK tour in his 50th year, with instrumentation and personnel capable
of merging the myriad strands of Jenkins' musical and performing career
into a fast flowing spontaneous and joyous celebration of humanist music
making. Songs of Praise, indeed!
Since 1995 he has preferred
performing live with his Blues Collective, solo, or duo with fellow guitarist
Steve Morrison in Here Is The Blues!, and has also appeared as 'Billy the
Aviator' in Tom Bancroft's award winning musical children's show 'Kidsamonium'.
the 2010 London Jazz Festival, he performed with the BBC Big Band playing
his music arranged by long time VOGC saxophonist Iain Ballamy but since
then, he has ceased travelling and performing due to the demands of creating
and conducting humanist funerals.
Billy Jenkins is an Accredited
Humanist Officiant approved by the
Humanist Association to conduct non religious funerals.
You can find out more about
his ceremonies here.
Billy Jenkins Selected Press Comments
'He mixes elements of
the blues with the spirit of punk rock all beautifully gift wrapped with
the joy of jazz...'
Claire Martin Jazz Line Up BBC R3
'The wayward master of
the woebegone' Rob Adams Glasgow Herald
Only one in 20,000 English
bluesmen inhabits a recognisable reality. Step forward Billy Jenkins,
anarcho guitarmeister and arch-demythologiser. Pure genius'. Mike
'American readers will be baffled
by him; but he is, along with the Princess Royal and Walthamstow dog stadium,
one of our national treasures.' Penguin
Guide To Jazz On CD
'His humour surely springs from
a deeply moralistic, even puritanical stance, and surely the adjectives
normally applied to Jenkins - such as 'zany' and 'quirky' - actually diminish
what in reality constitutes a serious and savagely satirical attack on
commercialism and consumerism.'
Trevor Hodgett Jazzwise
'Billy Jenkins has the priceless
ability to merge serious music-making with absolute lunacy, and make the
one feed off the creative energy of the other'.
Kenny Mathieson The Scotsman
'Next to Jenkins, chroniclers of
modern Britain such as Pulp seem like feckless dilettanti' Richard
Cook New Statesman
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