Billy Triplett died of a heart attack on Sunday, August 11th. Anyone who knew Billy knew him to be in every way a gentle giant of a man. He was physically massive—tall and very heavy. But he was the friendliest guy you are ever likely to meet. Exceptionally helpful. Incredibly kind. A real sweet man.
Billy was a sound engineer of the highest order. He was so good at his craft that he wasn’t around Portland very much after the mid-90s. He ended up touring with the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Prince, Paul McCartney, Pat Benatar and Joe Walsh and the James Gang, as well as working on projects with countless other musical acts over the years.
But pretty much any musician playing in town prior to the mid-90s has a Billy Triplett tale to tell.
The first time I met Billy was at Luis’ La Bamba club in 1982, when my band opened for Billy Rancher and the Unreal Gods during the height of the Rose Festival. That was our very first gig and we were excited to be opening for the Unreal Gods, the city’s most popular band, but completely disorganized. Billy was the first person I met when we were setting up. His aura of unruffled tranquility becalmed those around him. He calmed us right down and got us set-up on stage in front of the Gods’ gear and all mic’ed up, hooked up and dialed in without a care.
He handled the main soundboard at the back of the room, while Mick Boyt manned the monitor board. Billy and Mick made doing a sound check seem so simple that we naively assumed it was how all sound checks were supposed to go. Ha! A musician should be so lucky. By all accounts our gig that night was the best sounding we ever had. That was the only time Billy Triplett was our man at the board. It was three years downhill from there. And we had a damn good sound man of our own.
Billy and the Gods were that lucky. They had Billy Triplett doing their sound for every one of their gigs. Most certainly he was a key component in the Gods’ success. He played the board and the attending rack of effects as expertly as any musician plays his instrument. He was an artist. And that was thirty years ago! He only got better at his craft with every one of the thousands of gigs he engineered since that time.
He often did sound at Key Largo in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s. I played there with two different bands with him doing the sound, and the whole gig was like butter. Everything was just warm and toasty and copacetic. It was Billy Triplett’s world of sound engineering and we were welcome to it.
Billy began working with Troy Williver and his band Bombay when they played at Key Largo around 1995. Not long after that he signed a contract with Williver, and headed with Bombay to LA in search of gigs that would lead to a recording contract. Williver is a true professional musician, and while in LA, he introduced Billy to many influential musicians, technicians and industry contacts.
Billy ended up staying in LA circa 1997 and he lived there for over ten years. In 2009 he moved to Sturgeon Bay,Wisconsin, where he stayed at the Holiday Music Motel—Jackson Browne’s recording studio/motel complex—working on numerous projects from there. By the end of 2010 his health had begun to deteriorate and he was hospitalized for a time, in critical condition.
Unbeknownst to most local musicians, Billy returned to Portland at Christmas 2010, staying with Troy Williver and his family. Billy convalesced there for many months. He returned to Sturgeon Bay where he worked at the annual Steel Bridge Songfest last June.
Every time I met with Billy over the years I was continually struck by his benign demeanor, his reverential humility. I will always remember those qualities in him. But most of all I will remember the countless live music gigs I attended around town where the sound was absolutely perfect. You’d look around to see who was doing sound—and sure enough—it would be Billy Triplett. Hopefully Billy is even now reunited with his old friend Billy Rancher, creating music in the great hereafter.
by SP Clarke
Damn, sad news to hear. I only met him once, with Gravelpit mastering their second album. He was using Peak on Mac G3 and was totally cool with me geeking out on it such. Great stories, a hell of a nice guy and big loss.
Sorry to hear this news…Thanks for your reporting…RIP Billy…Some wonderful times we’ve lived in…Best To All…
This is very saddening. Billy was a kind, gentle man. I got to know him when I was working for our mutual friend Tony DeMicoli at Key Largo, a blues night club in Portland, OR. Very talented on that sound board, knew how o\to get the best sound out of any band that played there. RIP Billy, you will be certainly missed!
I have known Billy since the early 80’s in Portland when the music scene was hot and heavy. Billy Rancher, Robert Cray, The Crazy 8’s and all the other bands we went to see. Last Hurrah, La Bamba, Key Largo, Candelight and The Dandelion to name just a few of the great venues anyone would hit on any given night, and Billy would be at one of them. I knew his brother Tommy first then Billy became a friend and a guaranteed hug and smile no matter what he was in the middle of. He was one of our local superstars that never ever forgot where he came from… Tell Billy Rancher hello from all of us and we will all be coming home to see you two together again, I love you Billy T. Tripp….
Billy was a dear,dear friend we spent many nights laughing till me cried. I had the pleasure of working with Billy for a few years when I played in Dub Squad. Though i’m feeling sad and low. The memory of his laugh makes me smile!!!
Billy had a heart bigger than anyone else I knew and his passing will leave a larger than life hole in this work. I hope that he can add the larger than life persona that he had in this world in the next.
I had the honor of traveling all over the world with him on different tours and will never forget what a great man and friend he was.
There are very few people that I knew as well and as long as Billy and that I will miss as much. Billy I wish I could hug you and tell you how much I love/loved you, you were so very special to me and many, many other people.
Well said, Lowell. Billy was a rare individual, and we were blessed by his grace. You were lucky to have had him as a companion and coworker all those years.
We were all just kids back then. We were all bound together for a while by music.
I met Billy for the first time, when I arrived to my first show with Billy Rancher and the Unreal Gods at Luis La Bamba. I’d just been hired as a go-go dancer 3-days earlier.
I loved Billy from the moment we were introduced. I can still see the happy grin on his face in my minds’ eye, and I can still feel his sincere warmth. I never saw him cross.
I hovered over Billy like a little sister; half because I was studying in college what he did for the band (sound engineering), and the other half because I was too young to be in the crowd. Bless him that he tolerated me with a big smile…he never complained.
He protected me like a big brother. When there were conflicts, I felt safe with him. His careful ways and his advice to me, was always kind and reasonable, and it was always dispensed with his genuine warmth.
After the band, nearly 30-years had passed until I got to get back in touch with Billy again via Facebook, and I am so grateful for this. I learned Billy went on to achieve great accolades with his brilliant ear for music. I also learned his big heart continued to be appreciated by everyone throughout his career as he stepped-up the ladder of success. This all made me so happy!
You were my big brother for a while, Billy. We were all just kids back then, bound together by music and love. Whatever the weave that binds us, I look forward to meeting you at the next crossroad on the journey beyond the veil.
Billy came aboard the Robert Cray Band, with whom I was the keyboardist, in the mid-80’s. We toured the world together for several years. Billy and I got very tight – we both had a taste for ripping and running after the gig, prowling the clubs and streets from Baltimore to Tokyo. There are so many stories between us that I honestly don’t have a clue as to where to start. I could write a book. Suffice to say that he was a true brother, and the past couple of days have been dark indeed for me. I feel like I’ve lost an actual family blood brother. God bless you, Trip. I am so thankful for the hundreds and hundreds of memories in which you play a key role. I will miss you for the rest of my life.
I keep trying to swallow the lump in my throat about losing Billy, and it just won’t go away.
When I think of all the people in my life that are most important to me, they are all somehow tied, with heartstrings, back to B3.
I first met Billy when my friends had a band in the early 90’s, On A Llama. Billy loved and believed in Lea, and was there at every show, making her already beautiful voice….ethereal. He would give up paid gigs to be with all of us. His masterful ear and know how took them from a cover band to an original power trio, and every show was brilliant with Billy at the board.
He recorded the records. He made everything right.
My favorite thing about Billy was his huge smile, even huger hugs, and the true joy he would express whenever we crossed paths. Every hug turned into a neck massage with Billy! He always wanted to make sure everyone he came in contact with felt the love…and we all did. We all knew we were family to Billy.
Billy had huge circles of ‘family’ in several cities, all vibrating now with the loss.
I love that Billy was a big papa bear, and never thought anyone I dated was good enough for me.
I love that when my daughter was little he made her Britney Spears dream come true.
I love that so many people in my world understood and loved Billy.
Because to know Billy, is to love Billy…there is no other way.
I’ll be missing you Billy Triplett!
Just spoke with Billy a few weeks ago & caught up on a few years’ adventures. He was my monitor engineer when I played with Joe Walsh & was always the model touring professional and kick ass personality. No one ever had any downside criticism of Billy…unwaveringly positive, supportive and fun!!
Seriously missing a great guy right now.
Heaven just got a great sound engineer……
I’ve known Billy for many years, but only got to work with him on a couple of radio/promo shows during that time. Always meant to spend more time with him when I was lucky enough to be in town. Of course, now I regret that I never seemed to take the time.
Interesting that I see a few people on this blog that I also haven’t seen in a while. Thinking about you guys today.
A great engineer and a better man! RIP Billy!
I worked with Billy at Triplett Meats in Montana .A side of beef feel on his arm and the rest is history. Withhis workmans comp check he bought a mixing board and moved to Portland. He always had an ear for music ..it runs in the blood. His father took 2nd place at the Poulson ,Mt, Old Time fiddlers comp. one year . He played the horn in High School and took 2nd place at the State competition He also.played a banjo which is being played by one of his nephews , Josh Harvey , my son .Both of my sons are carrying on a family tradition ..the love of Music…Todd Harvey is ranked #1 in Kalispel ,Mt for his Music ,Josh and his lady ( Betty and the Boy ) won Eugene Next Best Thing year before last and won the N.W. String Summit Comp last year…also was one of 5 bands selected across the country to play on The Bluegrass Cruise comp. We are all going to miss him …Thankyou so much for starting the blog..
I managed a couple of bands in Portland, and did publicity for a couple of others. On top of all that, I was a fan. I knew it was going to be a great night when Billy Triplett was at the board — no matter who was playing. He had a knack for making each and every band sound their very best.
Lots of happy memories there. As I said in another place, the world will be a sadder, quieter place without Billy Triplett.
Sad news…:(. A big man with a big heart ! I worked with on several occasions. I always marvelled at his ability to stay calm and collected when all about him were losing their calm! Peace be on the big man!
R.I.P. Mr. T.
Your big heart, big hug, and big personality will be missed on Earth but Heaven has been blessed with another angel.
Spent a lot of time with Billy in the 90’s, doing Sweaty Nipples and Love on Ice gigs, that and the ensueing partys. A Lot of time at Sewickleys. Billy was my roommate around ’99-’00 when I was in a duplex. He was s’posed to move into my house when I bought it in 2000, I even built a 2 room mastering suite in the basement, but that’s about the time he was called down to L.A. Really glad I got to reconnect in 2010. Having been roomies, I’ve seen the soft side and the side most don’t see, and I gotta say, you really couldn’t bring that guy down. The humor wasn’t hiding anything, the guy was just that funny. And, maybe you need to be that large to have the golden set of ears that guy had on his head, incredible.
Thanks for this, Jeffy.
So, he is my brother, in real life. I remember being five years old and patting my Mom on her stomach and telling her “you’re getting fat!” And her reply to me was “I am not fat, I am pregnant with your next brother or sister.” I was so hoping for a brother. I thought it would be neat! When he was born, we went to the hospital (in those days children were not allowed in, period) so we stood on the sidewalk outside and our Mom opened her window on the third floor and talked to us. I shouted up: “Mom, hold the baby out the window so we can see him!” Her answer was no, but I now know Billy would not have minded. When he was a teenager, one night he went to a small Taco place in our town. He ordered his food and then left and went home to my parent’s house. Later that night, when everyone was asleep, a knock came at the door. My dad answered and it was the police. A gum ball machine had been taken from the Taco place and Billy was fingered as the thief. My parents called him from his sleep, and he was totally innocent and he explained it all to the cops, and they left. This was Billy’ version of the story: “All of sudden, bright white lights were shinning in every window of the house. Then, through a bull horn came the voice of the Chief of the Police. Billy Triplett…we have the house surrounded. Throw out the gum ball machine first, then come out with your hands up!!! Billy emerges on the front porch, hands up, and chewing a giant ball of gum…What seems to be the problem, officers?” I laughed so hard when he told me this story, I dribble urine in my pants!!!!!
45 minutes ago ·
Thanks for sharing love the story! It put a smile on my face.
In 1990 Dub Squad (the band I played in at the time) was asked to tour with UB40. The tour ended with 3 sold out shows at the Universal Amphitheater in LA. We had never played rooms like that before this tour and we were extremely nervous. It was Billy that made everything work for us. His energy had a calming effect. And our sound was every bit as clean and clear as the headline act. He was an artist and a top shelf human being. We will all miss him.
One of the nicest guys in the business. I had the pleasure working with Billy when he mastered Gravelpit’s ‘Snowglobe’ album and kept in touch thereafter. He had so many cool stories of working with so many people over the years and always seemed super happy. He was one of a kind and will be missed by many. RIP Billy.
one of the last times i SAW billy was in the early 90’s, we were all working the blues festival south stage…there was a demo practice going on on the water right below us….some guy was supposed to get “shot” out of a cannon…he was actually going to be hauled out with a boat as he was on skis….watching with the impending doom we knew what was going to happen to this guy, we heard a recorded, rather weak sounding “boom” go off….about 2 seconds later, the guy in the boat figures that was his cue and guns it….guy comes flying out of the “cannon”, skis go flying off in different directions, and the guy, still holding the rope, is skimming across the water on his ass….without missing a beat Billy Triplett lets go with a “WHOA! ITS A FORTY YARD ENEMA”……we howled about that most of the rest of that day…..truly a funny funny character was billy, always fun to be around…
I met Billy at the House of Love in Laguna Beach California. We shared many talks about music and life. How fragile is life?
So sad to hear this news. I worked with Billy when he did sound for James Brown. That show sounded better with Billy than at any other time in my 7 years there, hands down. They let him go when he took a gig to cover for a friend when we were supposed to have down time. It was one of many ridiculous decisions by management. We never sounded like that again. Billy was the one of the sweetest, most intelligent and talented people I’ve ever met. To hear his stories of hanging with Robert Cray and Joe Walsh and Sam Kinison you would be rolling on the floor, or in serious shock, like when he told of the night Stevie Ray’s helicopter went down. Billy made it so that I could sit in with Clyde Stubblefield when he played in Denver and he was just that kind of guy. Helpful, funny, a sound genius (no exaggeration at all) and a wonderful human being all around. I sure wish you did’nt have to go Billy, you will be deeply missed. Much love from the James Brown camp. You were the best!
When I met Billy Triplett, I was 16 and renting a room from his girlfriend. Billy used to sneak me in the back door to Billy Ranchers and the Unreal Gods shows. Billy taught me a lot back then. Like always have a drinking buddy, or shit will happen, and it did. I learned if Billy was going to keep an eye on me while we were out, that just meant Billy would watch me, point and laugh. I learned never to date his friends. Never leave a glass 1/2 full and walk away, or Billy would fill it. I remember the first time Billy took me back stage and introduced me to Billy Rancher and the band, I was shy and blushed. After a few months around Billy I was no longer shy. One of my favorite Billy story’s I can not tell, swore to secrecy. So I will tell you another one. I had got myself in a little trouble and ended up on house arrest, during the bluesfest. I was not happy I could not go, so Billy called the Clackamas County Sheriffs office, talk to the officer in charge of work release told him he needed me to work the bluesfest, got me cleared to go!!! So there I am at the Bluesfest with my Hawaiian wrap dress on with an ace bandage wrapped around my ankle to cover the monitor on my ankle. Only Billy would call the sheriffs office and do something like this. I love you Billy and miss you dearly.
LOVE this!!!! <3
Oh Billy! Miss you!
He was so good. Now in Heaven. Rest in Peace.
Larger than life in so many ways, this man gave the most wonderful hugs 🙂 & had a perpetual smile on his face that was infectious 🙂 No matter how he was feeling his smile was ALWAYS in place…I dreamed of him the night he passed…he was standing @ the Holiday surrounded by friends & as I walked up he smiled at me & had his arms out for my hug <3 He was happy surrounded by the people who loved him & there was a party happening 🙂 He was showing how he wanted it to be…happiness, laughter, fun, friends & love <3
Hes got it!!
Love you Billy <3 <3 <3
Hilarious story! My brother has a story like that except he wasn’t innocent I don’t think (He had been speeding through a little berg, speed trap)- but the cops couldn’t find him. He was pretty clever, he didn’t go home. My dad wasn’t too pleased when the cops lights and sirens were blaring wee hours of the morning outside his home in the country. Oh well!
Billy sounds adorable!
I am the remaining sister of our family. Billy was my big brother. He was eight years older than me. As I was told, Billy wasn’t to happy when I came into the picture. I would be taking over his reign as youngest and favorite. My Mom told me he was relieved when finding out I was a girl. I wouldn’t be taking his Dad away from him, or so he thought! Our relationship in the beginning to him was probably more on the annoying side, I always wanted to be around him and his friends, and as you all know, I was cramping his style! When I was little I had a love/hate relationship with the show Dark Shadows. I was obsessed, but frightened to death over it. As little sisters do, I would pillage his room when he was out and about, narc-ing him off to my mom when I found his playboy in his top dresser drawer, or knocking over the coffee can of discarded snoose juice and bong water staining the basement carpet! Boy, Mom was peeved over that one! But my brother was wise, and found my kryptonite. Two 8×10 pictures of Barnabus Collins! One at the top of the stairs going down to his room, and one directly over his bed! He came back to Montana and stayed for awhile to help out with my parents. I feel so blessed to have had that time with him and for him to get to know and have a relationship with my daughter Kadin. He helped my husband Bill and I put together one of Kadin’s Christmas programs. He did all the music and sound for It and of course it was amazing. I still can’t believe he’s gone. My mind doesn’t seem to want to process it. One of the things I seem to find the most comforting is he’s with so many of our loved ones that have come and gone and I bet it was quite the re-union! Until we meet again dear brother, keep coming to me in the innocent ways that only I will know, whether through song, memories, or in my dreams. Love forever and always, your little Sis – Dani (Aka – Danoodle, Ricky Retardo (one of his original and favorites!)
I grew up in Kalispell and met Billy through some neighbors of his. I ran into him on and off again on the road over the years and hadn’t seen him in quite a while. By chance I went to a Doobie Bros / Cutis Salgado concert in Boise. During the stage change I walked up and saw Billy. I yelled at him and he turned around and saw me. He got a huge smile and told me to come backstage. He introduced me to all the members and crew in both bands then he had to get back out front but said I could just stay back there and we would meet up later. He got busy and I had to go but we would “get together” next time he came to town.
I just met Billy this year… A friend brought him to my studio, I just started learning pro tools and he sat down with me for 8 hours teaching me… He had the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas eve. I learned more that night than I could have imagined and he wanted nothing in return. We just talked a couple weeks ago, he was working with a band with horns and was excited to bring them to my place to see how they would sound in the room. I’m sad I won’t get to spend that time with him.
I haven’t got a funny story but when I first met him he said the funniest thing…
“I’M NOT SAYING I’M A BAD INFLUENCE, BUT BEFORE I GOT THERE SODOM AND GOMORRAH WAS KNOWN FOR THEIR POTTERY!”
Miss ya already B3!
It has taken me a week to come to terms with and be able to speak about MY Billy’s death. It has taken ma a week to get past the bewilderment and anger. I have finally arrived at tragically sad. With that sadness I have finally begun the process of acceptance.
I have had a hard time reading and seeing all of the posts, all of the blogs, all of the videos, all of the pictures and all of the stories that the hundreds of friends MY Billy had posted. I finally realize the reason I am having such a hard time with this is because I thought I was the only one that was That special to Billy. But now, I realize Billy made everyone feel that special! And, in realizing this, not only have I begun accepting what just can’t be true, but I am also finding I am able to finally cry a little bit too! What a relief!
Billy gave me the greatest, most selfless gift he could ever give. For that I am forever grateful. As the years of regret and sadness passed, we both thought we would never have time to be friends in this life time again. He has gifted me with a long life filled with love. A life where I have been able to participate in my passions. I life where I have been able to touch other’s lives and make a difference. Again, my thanks to Billy for that!
There are still regrets and there is still sadness that go along with that gift Billy gave to me. But in the last 10 years of our over 30 year friendship, we were able to find each other again and begin to rebuild a real friendship. For the last 10 years and the 20 before it, I am forever grateful to my friend Billy!
I have a ton of funny, fun, unbelievable, incredible and heroic memories of MY Billy. I hope with a little more time I will be able to share those with you and begin to say how much WE miss OUR Billy!
Here’s to the one and only Billy Triplett!
A man that was one of the great ones!
A man that was truly compassionate!
A man that was filled with Integrity!
A man that was honest!
A man that you could always count on!
A man that I will love and miss forever more!
Here is a tribute to billy from Wisconsin’s WAPL 105.7 with the DJ”s recounting what a great guy he was they even have a clip of billy recounting an incident at a show.
I don’t normally do this type of thing but this is Billy. From the day I met Billy in Junior High band, he’s been the same guy …. nice, fun, smart, large, and making everyone around him feel better. Years later, I landed in Portland (without knowing where Billy was) and attended a Billy Rancher show at Louis LaBamba’s. After the Crazy 8’s opened, a sheer curtain closed, silhouettes began moving equipment around on stage and I immediately recognized “that” unique silhouette … and within seconds, we were laughing as if we had never lost a beat. And for decades, that is the way it was every time we got together, when we worked on projects and when we just ran into each other in Portland, in California, in Colorado, wherever. Over the years, I mentioned Bill to dozens of sound guys and musicians in Portland and up and down the West Coast. The reaction became totally predictable … they’d grin and say “best ears in town” or “nicest guy in the business.” Genius comes in all types of packages and this was a one large, lovable package. Billy…I know you are in a better place, please save me a spot so we can catch up again. I miss you, Big Guy … we all do.
I loved Billy, we traveled together like brother and sister on the road with Billy Rancher and intown he treated me like family.AWAYS. When I lived in Boston he was working with Samantha Fox.in Bo.He called me to join him for diner over looking the Charles. Just the two of us laughed n talked over old times as this was late 80s. I will miss him dearly. Candyce aka A Goodess A Go-Go
In Memory of my friend: Billy Triplett
“Its just wrong” my friend Billy Triplett is gone. Like he’s never been gone, no matter the circumstance, no matter the city, country, or residence, no matter the months or years that went by in or out of communication you could count on laughter and love from Billy including a classic story or joke told in amazing detail. I spent many years traveling, laughing, philosophizing about ways to create, writing music, and staying out of trouble with Billy. My heart is very heavy and I wished I could have more time with him.
Billy in the music industry was the consummate Professional. The first trip I did with Billy was flying to Los Angeles in 1996 “to make it big” flying first class with the band roadies and hundreds of pounds of drums amps guitars basses to meet up with the tour bus at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City California. On a flight to Burbank we made friends with the flight attendants (imagine that) and the next thing you know they are over pouring our glasses with Champagne and I’m doubled over with laughter because Billy’s telling jokes (what’s the difference between Pink and Purple? The GRIP!) and the roadies were running up the aisle with their fingers sticking out of their pants chasing the girl attendants and ending with Billy announcing that he hates it when the pilot says over the intercom were preparing for “final approach”.
Like many times before we landed, loaded the gear and get in the rented van and head for the Bus. We had shows at the Roxy & Whiskey-a-go go so in true fashion we stayed at the Hyatt on Sunset in the same rooms Zep were in a couple decades earlier. We head up to the Rainbow that night to find that the doorman is Joey Buttafuoco and our drummer is going to the bathroom in the middle of Sunset Blvd. thinking he’s in the Rainbow’s bar bathroom and later puking off his balcony onto Sunset below! Man we had a field day with that one! Billy and I end up sitting in a booth with the guys from Ozzy and Billy’s right at home.
I get a knock on my door at about 3:30 A.M. and its Billy telling me there’s a problem at the hotel across the street where we put the crew up and the roadies took the entire crowd from the Rainbow over to their rooms and continued the party including lots of ladies, some of them using credit card sliders for services… So we walked over and could not believe it, it was chaos and so Billy found the crew lead and said to him “um you guys gotta um turn the music down cuz it’s a little um loud and um people are kinda complaining” (he always had awesome kid gloves in situations like that) we walked back to the Hyatt laughing and talking about how we could get all the people back the next night while we charged admission at the door. Leaving Hollywood we headed to the Sportsman’s for extended stay while in LA and naturally when we arrived Billy took the reigns and got the rooms sorted out and the guys checked in freeing me up to hit the saloon for a Corona, While I’m standing at the bar two guys keep looking back to the lobby at all the gear coming in and finally one of them asks me where are you guys coming in from which I reply Oregon- The older guy smiled and replied wow were going to be there at the end of the summer, I say who and he replies Joe Walsh- I laughed and said wow Joe’s one of my idols in fact hold on a minute, I walked out to the lobby and asked Billy to hand me my Flight cased with my ‘58 Les Paul and he said sure while following me back into the little saloon with a smile on his face (he knew somthin’ was up!) I opened the case to grab my Les Paul case (case in a case) and busted out “Walk Away” in the middle of the bar as a string breaks, The older guy at the bar asks me who my tech is and I tell him and he says “Fire Him” both Billy and I start cracking up and then the guy asks me where I got my case in a case flight cases as he needs to get 80 of them!
He could care less about the song I played he just wanted the cases (we laughed about that one many times) Anyway, the guy was Smokey Wendell and we sat at the bar until 2:00 AM telling stories and jokes then Smokey says put me and a guest on the list for the Roxy gig the next night, (Joe was playing Irvine Meadows) he came and we started a friendship which lead to Billy working with Joe much later in history. One time I was sitting with Smokey at the Sportsman’s outdoor bar talking business or something and my phone rang, Smokey looked at me and said what’s more important?
What we’re talking about or my phone? So I chucked my phone into the pool! I looked over a few minute later and there was Billy with a Pool net fishing my phone off the bottom of the pool saying “Will” (my Nickname)we might need this later! We laughed “all the time” and as you know if you were with Billy you were laughing and finding the funny in anything, he had a way to turn bad to good through laughter and love or you would get his patented Horse sound always at the perfect moment usually following a shot of Jack.
A few weeks later we were in a business meeting at the Sportsman’s with Smokey and the Azoff people talking about tour ‘T” shirt colors and back stage laminate graphics when I was introduced to my now Wife of 17 years Mary. Billy was there the day we met and subsequently stayed in our lives on and off for the rest of his life. Billy came to Cabo with Mary, myself and the Bass player in the summer of 1997 and again no matter where we went we made friends, like sitting in a bar in San Jose Del Cabo when the bar owner comes over and Billy says were on Hiatus from a rock tour and we really loved his restaurant, next thing you know the owner is pouring the very best silver tequila and drinking with us, Mary was our chaperone that night and at the end of the bottle Billy had the owner thinking I was Don Henley and signing a guitar with a black sharpie! Classic times indeed…
One story Mary remembers is the time we had a down day from gigs and we were all drinking “very many” Bloody Mary’s, starting at about noon so when 5:00 came around we needed to head back to the hotel and we were all 17 sheets to the wind so Billy goes over to Mary and said darlin’ your gonna need to drive because I was way more important than she was, Ridiculously
funny and… although I don’t remember the ride we did make it back and as usual Billy’s humor was perfect (Just for the record Mary is more important). Like with everyone Billy came into and went out of our lives several times over the decades and no matter how much time had passed since we last saw each other we immediately picked up exactly where we left off.
He is the dearest friend I have ever known. One of those times we re-connected was 2009 when out of the blue I get a call from Billy saying he found my next singer, I had stopped playing many years earlier and I told him that I was done but in true Billy fashion the very next week I found myself on a plane flying out to Wisconsin and staying at the Holiday Music hotel writing new songs. The folks I met in Wisconsin are the nicest I have ever met and it’s so comforting to know Billy is and was surrounded by such amazing people in recent years.
We spent time together at our family home in Portland and at our family Beach House on the Oregon Coast in 2010. While Billy was in a tremendous amount of pain he said somehow being on the Oregon coast made it better. Billy was living with us winter of 2010 and our daughters Hannah and Caroline loved Billy and he loved them back. One time he told my oldest daughter Hannah that he worked with Disney management and he could get her on a show! Next thing we know there is like 6 soccer moms showing up at our house with their kids asking for an introduction! Classic Billy…or the time that he asked our cat Phyllis Diller to marry him so he could become an honorary true member of our family!
We weren’t going to get our Daughter Hannah a Cell phone until she got older thinking the 5th grade was maybe too early and she might lose it or something but in Billy’s own way, he talked us into giving her a new cell phone on Christmas Morning 2010 saying c’mon Will after all you threw yours into a swimming pool once! it was Billy’s idea to program it and have it charged so about half way through opening gifts Billy said to Hannah hey do you hear something ringing under the tree? (he had dialed her new number) and man let me tell you what! She flipped out and went crazy giving him the biggest hug ever. There was Billy again getting all the credit!
and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Billy did all of our traditions with us that Christmas and Mary shopped for gifts Billy could give our girls too. One of our traditions is getting new Christmas Jammies on Christmas eve and yes Mary found some in Billy size (I love my wife so much) so Christmas eve there is Billy and me in our jammies setting up the kids gifts including Hannah’s new Tama Drum kit (yep he talked me into that one too) drinking hot Toddies and telling more stories, he is an awesome person and I cannot believe I will not be talking to him in person again at least until we meet in heaven. So I’m having many little signs lately like my Nike Fuel band which you have to push a button to make it turn on all of the sudden displaying 333, and my Marshall amp being “on and humming” when I know for a fact I turned it off, and I open up Pro Tools and out of no-where there’s a mix up that he did in 2010? Crazy- Above all I’m sure everyone has been blessed with Billy’s presence in very similar ways because that is exactly what he did. No matter when or where or how you knew Billy he was and is bigger than life in all respects and I believe he is free and smiling now.
The things I wrote about here are quite literally only a very small and minor percentage of the stories, life and times we spent together and I hold each and every one of those moments precious. Billy Triplett you will be missed, loved, and never forgotten…
With lots of Love Memories and Respect,
I spoke with Billy just a few weeks ago before he passed, he was headed out to run sound for me at a company gig I booked. As always it was just plain nice to talk with him. He loved music and more importantly he loved musicians. He was always kind, soft spoken, in a good mood and just made you feel great being around him. We should all remember to be more like BIlly. He was a giant of a man, in more ways than one.
This is the person that started me working as crew for bands in Portland in the 1980’s.
I have not seen or spoken to him since then, but I often think of those days.
He will always be the guy who started me down that path.
I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.
Thank you B3!!