Billy Grammer Biography

William Wayne Grammer, 28 August 1925, Benton, Illinois, USA. Grammer was a coalminer’s son and one of 13 children. His father played the fiddle, and by the time he was in his teens, Grammer was playing guitar, mandolin and banjo at local dances. After a spell in the forces, he started in C&W radio on WRAL in Arlington, Virginia, in 1947, but established his reputation as a session guitarist in Washington. He played lead guitar for several country performers - Hawkshaw Hawkins, Grandpa Jones, T. Texas Tyler - and he worked with Jimmy Dean on his television series from 1955-59. Grammer first recorded as a solo performer in 1949, but in 1959, had a vocal success with the million-selling ‘Gotta Travel On’, a nineteenth-century British melody that had previously been revived by the Weavers. Grammer’s pop success was short-lived as the excellent double-sided ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’/‘The Kissing Tree’ barely made the US Top 50. He had a country hit with ‘I Wanna Go Home’ in 1963, which Bobby Bare reworked as ‘Detroit City’. He joined the Grand Ole Opry and became a session guitarist. His first model of the Grammer Flat-Top Guitar, which he now manufactures, is in the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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