As a boy, Billy
Jenkins (b.1956, Bromley, Kent) sang in
occasional choirs at St. Paul's and
Westminster Abbey; as a teenager toured and
recorded for legendary record label boss
Clive Davis 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!' ).
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'
From 1983 - 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
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.
has been nominated three
times for a Paul Hamlyn
Award - in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
In education, 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.
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
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!
1995 he performed live with his Blues
Collective, solo, or duo with fellow
guitarist Steve Morrison in Here Is The
Blues! He also appeared as 'Billy the
Aviator' in Tom Bancroft's award winning
musical children's show
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.
Two recent album releases were selected by
Mojo Magazine as a 'Top Ten Underground
Album Of The Year' in both 2014 and 2015.
In 2016, his album
'True Love Collection' (released in 1998)
was voted by BBC and Jazz FM presenters, jazz
musicians, critics and journalists as one of the '50
Greatest Ever Jazz Albums'.
spend seven years (2008 -14) creating
and conducting humanist funerals in SE London, he has returned to researching,
composing, writing and recording
- but his
over-sensitivity to sound and various
proudly borne 'industrially related' minor, but chronic, physical and psychological issues severely limit
his music making.
Jenkins Selected Press Comments
'He mixes elements of the
blues with the spirit of punk rock all
beautifully gift wrapped with the joy of
Claire Martin Jazz Line Up BBC
wayward master of the woebegone' Rob
Adams Glasgow Herald
one in 20,000 English bluesmen inhabits
a recognisable reality. Step
forward Billy Jenkins, anarcho
guitarmeister and arch-demythologiser.
Pure genius'. Mike Butler City
readers will be baffled by him; but he
is, along with the Princess Royal and
Walthamstow dog stadium, one of our
Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD
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
Trevor Hodgett Jazzwise
Jenkins has the priceless ability to
merge serious music-making with absolute
lunacy, and make the one feed off the
creative energy of the
Mathieson The Scotsman
to Jenkins, chroniclers of modern
Britain such as Pulp seem like feckless
dilettanti' Richard Cook New
return to top of page