Dr. T. R. Bryan Wilkes Heritage Museum Music Award:  Billy Gee

Billy Gee

Billy Gee was born in La Plata. He says, “Being able to play music gives me a huge thrill and I feel very fortunate to have had great musical influences to help me develop as a musician”. He was encouraged to join the elementary school band in fourth grade beginning with the trumpet. Later this evolved into a fascination with the guitar and bass and led to his first pop rock band in junior high and high school.
After graduation from La Plata High School he attended Appalachian State University and received a business degree in 1973. There he met and played with many western North Carolina musicians. Having completed his education he moved back to his beloved Southern Maryland and married Brenda Cooksey. Together they decided to make Wilkes County their home.

Billy and Donnie Story in popular regional groups and toured the east coast and southern states. Later he joined Jeff Pardue, Randy Gambill, Roger Miller and Keith Oliver in their group, Backstreet, which toured England and Scotland in 2002. After the death of international bluegrass legend Charlie Waller, Billy became one of the founding members of the Circuit Riders. Years later he was a founding member of the Tone Blazers, who produced three albums.

Billy has recorded on several album projects, including the Circuit Rider’s “Let The Ride Begin” and Eric Ellis’ “Every Night Before Breakfast.” He also performed with the Country Gentlemen at the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Celebration in Washington, D.C

He has performed at many bluegrass festivals on the east coast and is proud to have had the privilege to perform at every MerleFest since 1992. He is honored to be a part of The Banknotes annual tribute to Bill Young at Merlefest.

He truly values his ties with local, influential musicians, including: Donnie Story, Randy Gambill, Jeff Pardue, Tony Joines, Wes Tuttle, Mike Palmer, RG Abasher, Eric Ellis, Buddy Wright, Chris Bryant, Clay Lundsford, Steve Lewis, David Culler, Dennis Shaw, Jody Call, Josh Day, Jens and Uwe Kruger, Joel Landsberg, and many others. Billy performs with many of them to this day.

When not performing, Billy operates his own guitar repair business, Guitar Specialist. Guitar Specialist is a respected warranty station for several brands including Martin, Taylor, and Fender. One of his many clients was the legendary Doc Watson.

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