Billy J. Kramer seemingly came from nowhere (well, Bootle, Lancashire, England, to be precise) to climb the upper reaches of the UK and U.S. pop charts beginning in 1963. Hand-picked to join the NEMS Enterprises artist roster by The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, Kramer was given Lennon/McCartney songs to record and was produced by George Martin. When his original backing musicians quit, professional Manchester combo The Dakotas were hired by Epstein to be Kramer’s band. He rode the wave of Beatlemania worldwide and had several top ten hits in multiple countries.
After the beat music boom crested in 1965, Kramer and The Dakotas parted ways. He launched a new career in cabaret and British television, maintaining a solo career there for the next two decades before relocating to the U.S. He has recently released a new CD, I Won The Fight, and is excited to be a part of the British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour.
How did you get involved with the tour?
I was approached by the promoters, you know? I’ve been living here for a long time, doing gigs and different things, and when they came up with the idea for this tour, I said, “Yeah.” I’ve been very uplifted by the whole thing. I thought it would be good but it’s been better than I could ever imagine.
After the British Invasion tour ends, I’m going to the UK to do the Solid Silver Sixties 30th Anniversary Tour. It will be with Mike Pender of The Searchers, Chris Farlow, P.P. Arnold, and The Merseybeats. It will be thirty concerts in all and it will the first time I have toured there in eighteen years. I very excited about it.
You toured the U.S. prior to The Beatles’ arrival. Do you still see some of your original fans as you tour?
Yes, definitely. I have a connection with Beatlefest, which I have done on numerous occasions, and the fans always come out.
As you were growing up, what artists caught your attention early on?
Buddy Holly singing “That’ll Be the Day” hit me really hard the first time I heard it on Radio Luxembourg, which I used to listen to on Sunday nights. Also, the bass player in my first band had a brother who would bring records back from America. I remember he had the 78s of Elvis singing “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Both of those records blew me away! I started to collect records myself around that time.