We were very sorry to hear that Dublin guitarist and graphic designer Billy Morley has passed away. During his career, he played with The Radiators From Space, Revolver, The Defenders, The Teen Commandments and Lucky Bones.
As first reported by Hot Press, Billy began his career in the early to mid 1970s as a guitarist with New York Dolls style glam-punk outfits ‘Bent Fairy and The Punks’ and ‘Greta Garbage and the Trash Cans’. The latter band also featured both Steve Averill and Pete Holidai, later of The Radiators From Space.
Billy then went onto play with Revolver (1977-79), one of the top bands in Dublin’s emerging punk rock scene.
The group released two singles on the Rockborough label, ’Silently Screaming’ (June 1978) and ‘You Won’t Know What Hit You’.
Overlapping this period slightly, Billy took up the post of second guitarist with The Radiators from Space from approximately September 1978 to March 1979. He joined the post ‘Ghosttown’ tour but didn’t play on the record itself. In a separate Hot Press piece today, Steve Averill called Billy:
… perhaps, the most underrated guitarist of his generation and was extremely modest about his talent, as well as being incredibly shy about performing on a stage – something that held him back from achieving his due. He had a real natural talent that all those who played with him recognised
In late 1979, Billy was involved with the short-lived group The Defenders, formed to help Heat fanzine pay legal costs to U2’s manager Paul McGuinness.
McGuiness had objected to an article entitled “McGuinness (Isn’t) Good For U2′” in Vol. 2, No. 2 of the magazine which accused him of using back-handed tacits to ensure that U2 got a prestigious support slot at a gig in Trinity College, bumping a rival band from the bill. The story was later proved to be wrong. Decan Lynch in the Irish Independent wrote about the incident at length back in 2006.
The Defenders line up, along with Billy, included:
– Eamon Carr and Johnny Fean of Horslips
– Steve Averill and Mark Megaray of The Radiators
– Frankie Morgan of Sacre Bleu
– Gary Eglington of The Noise Boys, and later The Zen Alligators.
Heat fanzine was co-owned by Jude Carr (Eamon’s brother) and Pete Price and was one of the most well-respected and well-designed punk fanzines in the 1977-79 period. A benefit gig in the National Ballroom was organised for 25th July which was followed by a single released on Guided Missile Records, a label owned by Jude Carr and Karl Tsigdinos, a DJ and graphic designer with Hot Press. Unfortunately, the magazine folded despite these efforts.
In 1981, Billy played on the Teen Commandment‘s first single ‘Private World’. A great powerpop band formed by Philip Byrne (ex. Revolver) in 1979 that originally featured Dave Maloney (ex. The Vipers) on drums. Pete Holdai of the Radiators produced their work.
Billy, a very talented illustrator and graphic designer, went onto work for a number of advertising agencies in Dublin and Hot Press magazine for a short period. This was followed by a long career in RTE’s graphics department.