Here’s another chapter from my upcoming book, Hit Records That Needed To Be Released Twice.
A lot of really good music goes undiscovered and simply disappears. Such was the fate of a record recorded by Billy Vera in 1981.
Billy Vera spent decades working in the music industry. He wrote a song that was recorded by Ricky Nelson in 1965, reached the Hot 100 with his own solo record in 1967 and with a duet with Judy Clay in 1968, and wrote a song that Dolly Parton covered and took to #1 on the Country charts in 1979.
His biggest success resulted from a song he recorded with the group the Beaters in 1981. The group he put together recorded an entire album during several days of performances at the Roxy in Hollywood. Alfa Records, a small record label based in Japan, released the album and promoted it by releasing the single I Can Take Care of Myself. The single made it up to number 39 on the Billboard charts, which was enough of a success for the label to release their second single, At This Moment.
This second live recording climbed all the way up to #79 and then sadly vanished without a trace. The record label collapsed shortly after that, leaving the band playing in clubs but not touring. Billy also successfully started an acting career, appearing in numerous television shows beginning in 1984 as well as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.
A telephone call in 1985 brought his musical career back to life. The television show Family Ties wanted to use At This Moment in an episode that featured the relationship between Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and Ellen Reed (Tracy Pollan). The episode aired in 1986, and television fan reaction to the song was immediate. Radio stations were inundated with request for the song, and that quickly led to a reissue of the single in November 1986, this time on Rhino Records. Within a few weeks, the record hit number 1, easily selling over a million copies.
Getting back on the charts was not in the cards. About a year later the record Between Like and Love made the top ten on the Adult Contemporary charts, but it didn’t even make the Hot 100 at all. Billy has continued to make a living in the music business, but not by recording hit records himself.
Billy’s biography can be found on his official website at http://billyvera.com/billy-vera-bio/