Bill Fay is a singer-songwriter and pianist from London.
Fay began writing songs in the early 1960s while attending university and in 1966 cut a demo using a mobile studio belonging to a man named John Boden. Impressed by the demo, ex-Them drummer Terry Noon helped Bill to sign a recording contract with Decca. In 1967 the label released the single "Some Good Advice"/"Screams in the Ears", produced by early Donovan co-manager Peter Eden. The single "introduced characteristic downbeat melodies and scrambled impressionistic lyrics", according to allmusic reviewer Richie Unterberger. The self-titled Bill Fay was released in 1970 and was followed by Time Of The Last Persecution in 1971. Neither records sold well and Decca decided to end Bill’s contract shortly after the release of Time Of The Last Persecution.
Bill had returned to the studio in the late 70s, but these sessions weren't released until January 2005 through Durtro/Jnana records as Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow under the moniker of the Bill Fay Group. In 2004 Wooden Hill records released From the Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock, a collection of demos recorded between 1966 and 1970, plus one song recorded in 2000.
American band Wilco have played Fay's song "Be Not So Fearful" in live performances and the band's singer Jeff Tweedy can be heard singing it in the documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco". Fay joined the band onstage for the rendition of the song at a show at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London in 2007. A cover version of Fay's "Pictures of Adolf Again" by producer and musician Jim O'Rourke and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche can be heard in the movie from Koji Wakamatsu "United Red Army". The track "Time of the Last Persecution" became a live standard of British Apocalyptic Folk group Current 93.
A double album entitled Still Some Light was released on the Coptic Cat label in 2010. The first CD, ‘PIANO, GUITAR, BASS & DRUMS 1970–71’, consists of studio recordings sourced from archival 7 ½" tapes and cassette from 1970 and 1971, with Ray Russell on guitar, Alan Rushton on drums and Daryl Runswick on bass. The 1970 tracks are prior to the recording of Time Of The Last Persecution, and contain alternative versions of songs on that album, two tracks from Bill's first album Bill Fay as well as previously unreleased songs. There are also previously unreleased songs from 1971. The second CD, Still Some Light, is a home-recorded studio album from 2009.
NPR’s show 'All Songs Considered' premiered Bill Fay’s new single, The Neverending Happening on June 26, 2012.
Bill Fay's new album Life Is People was released on August 21, 2012 on Dead Oceans. It featured guitarist Matt Deighton (Oasis, Paul Weller, Mother Earth), drummer Tim Weller (Will Young, Noel Gallagher, Goldfrapp), and keyboardist Mikey Rowe (High Flying Birds, Stevie Nicks, etc). In addition, Bill is reunited on several tracks with Ray Russell and drummer Alan Rushton, who played on Time Of The Last Persecution.
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