Bill a.k.a. Willy, Big Willy

The Quick on Bill's musical life with other musicians:

Bill started out life in a family of musicians. His father sang in many Pennsylvania Music Education Association Festivals and with the famous Fred Waring "Blenders" out of Delaware Water Gap. Mom played piano and accompanied music services at the Methodist Church in Stroudsburg, PA. Maternal grandparents George and Francis Meredith loved to sing. Old recordings of Francis' recorded on blank records (home recordings of the day) float around somewhere in the extended family.

It is recorded in family baby books that Bill could carry a tune at the tender age of three. His desire to sing along with "Buffalo Bill" and "Wild Bill Hickock" 45's had him closing his bedroom door while the needled scratched away at these old novelty songs.

Fast forward ten years to Ridgeway Middle School in Edgewater Park, New Jersey. Bill was given the roll of "Lord High Executioner" in the school musical the "Mikado". Singing for other folks became fun that year! And rock and roll took shape in the form of FM radio. Bass guitar lessons took 6 months to quit and learning six string guitar by reading the chord charts above the music made it easy to strum. It helped to join the guitar club in 6th grade! Soon it was possible to sing and write his own songs mainly because he couldn't play anything he heard on the radio. It made more sense to see if playing four strings was easier to learn. It was, and it seemed enough to handle at the time. Eventually it was fun to be the bass player in the high school jazz band even though all the notes went by too fast!

Then came Bill's first job as a bass player in a band that eventually called itself "Modern English". This group centered around Ed Wells; drummer and George Meredith (no relation) bass as Bill became the guitar player. One great song "Master Plan" came out of this group and two band jobs (both on the same day!).

The Moon Band was the next stop in Bill's career as a rock and roller. This band was a step up as they were actually scoring paying jobs in and around the Burlington County, New Jersey area. Saxophonist and best friend John Snow, guitarist/singer Jeff Borthwick and drummer Mike "Bear" Maccar made up the group. Reading music was essential in this group. The Moon Band played for a ton of weddings, social dances at various clubs, Steel Workers Union and lots of Sigma Nu fraternity parties once Bill and John took off for Gettysburg College. The Moon Band had several notebooks of songs ready to go in an instant should the crowd start requesting songs.

Other bands came after the Moon Band. Some short lived. The Trouble Boys were a rockabilly band formed one spring at college. Skeeter and the Serfboards was formed to record and play Bill's compositions just after college. This group included Eric Hoffman on guitar and vocals, Dan White on drums and vocals, Ernie Kranias on keyboards and vocals, Eric Beach on harmonica and vocals and Mark Hite on guitar and vocals. Then came The White Brothers Band an established wedding band which lasted one year with Bill as bass player. He was fired for lack of ability when a substitute was brought in while Bill toured with the Gettysburg College Choir. (Even had to wear a black velvet suit for that one!). All for the best though as John and Dan White and Ted Gilbert remain friends to this day. Big Friends was next but music during the 1980's was so bad it was hard to come up with songs to play anywhere! This group included Neil Sollenberger on guitar and vocals, Vanessa Sollenberger (now Rice) on keyboards and vocals and Lynn Stover (now with Namaste) on drums. A couple of recordings were made but mostly demos.

Then came ETC.. This was a rock and roll band that played mostly cover songs from the sixties. Chad Huber on vocals, Todd Mudd on guitar and vocals, Dan Chase on keyboards and saxophone and in an earlier version, Don Rinehart on guitar. This one lasted quite a while actually. Bill cut his teeth as a real bass player in this band. Didn't have to sing much but enjoyed paying his dues at plenty of late night bar gigs.

So now he's a Willy. Bill desire to write and record his musical compositions led him one summer to call Neil Ecker. Somebody said Neil was a drummer and Bill needed one for a recording session at WVIA Wilkes Barre (of all places). An acquaintance of Bill's made it known that a DJ at WVIA would record local (?) bands and then play the bands recordings on the radio! That was all there was before internet!

Bill and Neil have been mates ever since leading the Willys ever forward and ever onward. Together they have pieced together the group you see on the web site today. There are three completed Willys recordings available and a new one in the works. Our music has been picked up by SBS Records to be included in their independent CD catalog and can be found in Sweden and Australia as well as the good old U.S.A.. So what's next? How about getting one of our songs picked up by a major artist? Perhaps a recording contract? No doubt the Willys can handle that!

Bill in his early days in the MOON band

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