"WILD" BILL KENNEDY
Bill Kennedy was born in Bluefield, West Virginia in 1940. Growing up there in the 40's and early 50's provided a rich musical background, whether it was local gospel, country, big bands, the popsters or the R&B sounds coming from WLAC in Nashville, the young Bill absorbed it all, although the Chicago R&B artists such as Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Lightning Hopkins influenced him most. After moving to Columbus, Ohio in the 50's, Kennedy played with several local bands and met every Rockabilly performer that came through on tour. His favourite artists were Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins who Bill remembers as being "Down to earth and having fun".
While stationed in West Germany in the US Air Force from 1958-1961 Bill formed a band called the Klicks which toured the Armed Forces clubs, played many local functions and opened for several big name acts that toured with the USO shows such as Johnny Cash and The DeCastro Sisters.
A very forward-looking attitude for the time. Returning to states Bill was stationed in Plattsburgh New York and formed a new band called the "Twiliters" including Bill on Guitar; Skip Bushey, Drums; John Sullivan Guitar (later replaced by Bruce DanVille); and Tommy Latour on Bass. Here they met a local record producer who thought enough of what he heard to want to produce a record on his local label, Empire Records. The recording took place at Rollerland, a large roller rink in Plattsburgh, NY which held dances where big names of the day often appeared. This accounts for the unusual and totally 'live' feel to the tracks which featured real locals instead of an 'invited' audience.
The record as issued as Empire Records E-4 in late 1962 in the New York, New Jersey and the New England States and marks the first recorded cover instance of "Shakin'" in north America. The group sent copies of the single to all the record companies but they all declined the chance to give it a wider release. Several months passed when Bill heard a familiar riff coming out of his radio.
The second Twiliters single on Empire Records E-6 was released in 1963, the topside of which was a Kennedy original, "The Girl From Liverpool". The b-side featured their version of Cliff Richard's "Move it", a song which Bill had long wanted to commit to vinyl. The groups' third and last record was released on Venture Records (Bill's own label) V-1000A which featured "Mary Lou", previously a minor hit for Canadian rocker Ronnie Hawkins. Its b-side "Billy Billy" was from another Canadian band called the Beau-Marks.
The Twiliters versions of of "Shakin' All Over" and "Move it" are available in the UK on several compilations by Norton records. Kennedy continued touring until 1972 with his last band called A.C. Apple. Today he lives in the Albany New York area and plays whenever asked.