About Bill Ray
Bill Ray has been playing drums since the beginning. Finding his father's drums at 15 months old and discovering the power of 2 & 4, his purpose on this plane of existence was set in motion at the age of four, having seen the local drum guru perform a drum solo at his parents' photography studio in Jackson, MS.
In 1989 a move to California was inevitable and taking gigs of any musical style turned out to be a fertile training ground. In 2001 Ike Turner offered BR the gig and as he said many times "Billy Ray is the drummer of my soul". Bill played with Ike on up to the end of his life and played on his 2007 Grammy Award winning album "Risin' With The Blues". Bill also holds over 150 other album credits to his career in all styles of music from Rock to Jazz, Country, R&B, Funk, and Eclectic "experimental" styles.
Bill is currently enjoying residence in the beautiful Pacific Northwest; Seattle, WA.
Bill endorses Stone Custom Drum, Sabian Cymbals, Pro-Mark Drumsticks, Aquarian Drumheads, Kickport International, Sonall Percussion, Humes & Berg, Etymotic, Eccentric Systems, and Slug Percussion Products.
I found my father’s drums at 15 months old and was immediately drawn to the power of a backbeat and how it made me feel. My then-four year-old self discovered my dream, nee’ purpose when the local “drum guru”, a man by the name of George Lawrence (who is still a friend to this day) performed a drum solo at my parents’ photography studio in Jackson, MS. while getting band pics done.
In 2015 a move to Seattle began a new chapter in my life. Currently I instruct at Seattle Drum School and in my own private studio. I have been playing with Paul Gilbert and did his recent release “Behold- Electric Guitar”.
When I was 17 years old I had had enough of the war zone that was my childhood and decided to pack it all up and pursue my musical dream 1000 miles away from anything or anyone I knew. Oh, it was brutal. I was still quite a boy and a gawky, insecure nail bitin' long-haired hippie kid who wanted to do nothing but play drums, and in the back behind a kit was probably the best place for me. "Heard and not seen"!
So in I'd say March of 1986 I was in George's Drum Shop in Jackson, MS dinking around on the newly released Simmons SDS-9 or whatever the kit of the day was...there was a Pearl electronic set there as well... Steven Garrett, a guitarist who resides in Nashville and a fine player/songwriter heard me play and was immediately interested in hearing me play with his band. In Tampa, Florida. That was all the excuse I needed to get out of Jackson!
Back in 1989 I moved from Jackson, MS to San Diego, CA. and began to work in town. Being the impressionable young drummer that I was, finding someone to glom onto as a mentor was essential. I went to Croce's Top Hat (now a pizza joint) one Wednesday night and ran into this amazing band called "Len Rainey & The Midnight Players". They were playing this funky Blues music- right up my alley!
George Lawrence is the first drummer other than my father that I consciously remember watching. That being said, I must say that I have always been aware of the beat. Even when I could barely walk, the driving smack of 2 & 4 carrying and propelling the music was enough to let me know I've found something!
The first time I heard the Aquarium Rescue Unit was when I lived in Taipei, Taiwan. I had read a review of the album in Modern Drummer Magazine about these guys and just happened to see their cassette in Tower Records. I bought it and gave it a listen. I heard it once and it did nothing for me. So I threw it in my bag and eventually headed back home.
Once I got home I threw in ARU once more for a quick going-over and THIS TIME I was completely floored! TO this day I have to give Sipe credit for shaping the way I play. His fluidity and ideas never cease to amaze me.
W have only met a few times; He let me sit in with Leftover Salmon and we did a drum solo together. It was EPIC.
Timm Biery was with Frank Marino for a number of years (he's the guy on Juggernaut), Danny Gatton's drummer for the latter part of his life, and is now playing with Nils Lofgren (Bruce Springsteen E Street Band). Our mutual friend Dave Goode introduced us in 1994 and I was instantly blown away by what I was hearing.
These are artists who have had a tremendous impact upon my drumming and overall "concept" of music.