5 Billings Musicians Who Made It Big
If you’ve ever attended Alive After 5, you know that the Billings music scene is great. Throughout Billing’s history, there’s been several musicians who have made their living doing what they love. Here are some musicians with ties to the Magic City that you may or may not have heard of.
Bob Enevoldsen, jazz multi-instrumentalist
Bob Enevoldsen was a West Coast jazz tenor saxophonist and valve trombonist born in Billings. He was best known for his work with Marty Paich, who was a producer and music director for Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Sammy Davis Jr and many others. Enevoldsen also did played with Art Pepper and Shorty Rogers, and later extensively played with Shelley Manne. Enevoldsen was a highly skilled arranger and did most of the arranging work for Steve Allen’s Westinghouse show in the early 60′s.
Robert Lee “Chan” Romero was born July 7, 1941 in Billings. He was an American rock and roll pioneer best known for his 1959 hit, “Hippy Hippy Shake”. Romero’s father was of Spanish and Apache stock while his mother was a mix of Mexican, Cherokee and Irish. Both had migrated to Montana during the Great Depression, seeking employment as migrant farm workers. Romero hitchhiked to Los Angeles in 1958, where he wrote “Hippy Hippy Shake”, skyrocketing his career.
Wally Kurth is an American singer and television performer born in Billings, MT. Although he is best known for his work on the soap opera General Hospital as the second Ned Ashton, Kurth’s Band, Kurth and Taylor, performed on and produced songs for General Hospital. Kurth and Taylor won an Emmy in 2002 Emmy award-winning song “Barefoot Ballet.”
American folk singer Arlo Guthrie often protest songs against social injustice, just like his father, Woody Guthrie. One of Guthrie’s best known songs is “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, a satirical blues song about 18 minutes long. Although born in New York, Arlo Guthrie spent time in Billings when he briefly attended Rocky Mountain College in 1965.
BONUS: Jeff Ament
Although he’s not a Billings resident, Jeff Ament is definitely worth mentioning. Born in Havre, Montana, grew up to become the bassist for Pearl Jam. Ament grew up in the town of Big Sandy, Montana, a town south of Harve with a population of less than 700. Ament’s father was mayor of Big Sandy for fifteen years, as well as a barber and a school bus driver. When he’s not touring with Pearl Jam, Ament lives in Missoula as well as Seattle.
Did we miss any notable musicians from the Billings area?