The Life of Billy Bang

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

After spending a year in Vietnam, where he had served as a “tunnel rat” armed only with a flashlight and pistol, Sgt. E5 William Walker, known to family and friends as Billy Bang, returned to New York in March 1968. Lost, haunted by what he’d seen in the war, and strung out on drugs and alcohol, he became an arms expert for revolutionary political groups. One day, while on a mission to buy guns for a group from a pawn shop, he came across a violin in the corner of the store.

The instrument became a kind of therapy for him. He began immersing himself in the New York loft scene, playing with such luminaries as Sam Rivers, David Murray, and the artist who would become his most regular collaborator, William Parker, before the bassist became a member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra.