Billy T James Profile

Matt Elliott
23 Dec 2016

It is easy to forget in these post-Jonah Lomu days just how popular comedian Billy T James was in New Zealand during the 1980s. His live shows around the country always sold out and his TV series had a third of the country tuning in. Everywhere he went a crowd would flock around him. But, despite all the adulation, Billy remained a very shy man whose fame as a comedian had grown out of his love of popular music.

The adopted son of Wiri and Ruby Taitoko, William James Te Wehi Taitoko was born with a mimic’s ear for music and jokes. Wiri, who drove trucks by day for a rendering plant on the outskirts of Cambridge, was by all accounts a talented musician. Billy learnt guitar and saxophone from him and, as a slightly portly, self-conscious teenager in the 1960s, discovered that being able to play an instrument could move someone from the outer to being the focus of a group of friends.

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Billy T James with his long-standing musical director, Allan Wade
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Dave Hurley recording on Auckland's West Coast for Billy T. James' James Gang Rides Again. From left: Terere Koopu, Peter Read, George Andrews, Billy T James, Dee Jamieson and Hurley.
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Billy T James, When A Child Is Born, released on the Pagan label
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Billy T James and the core cast and orchestra of TV's Radio Times
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Billy T James in 1979
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Billy T James and Prince Tui Teka - The Maori Volcanics Showband
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Billy T James and the Maori Volcanics
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The Maori Volcanics in 1976, with Billy T. James, supported by The Yandall Sisters, Eddie Low and Family Affair
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Billy T James
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A pre-TV fame Billy T. James, around the time he was a regular performer at The Gluepot
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The Maori Volcanics
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Hegan's last promo photo of Billy T James
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Billy T James in Radio Times (1980)
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Best of Billy - Billy T James
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Backstage at the 25 Years of Television concert spectacular at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, 1985. Left to right: Hogsnort Rupert’s Alec Wishart, Dave Luther and Kevin Findlater, John Grenell and Billy T. James.
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Billy T James supporting Tom Jones
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Labels:

Pagan


RCA


Ode


EMI

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