Music first became important to Billylee Janey in 1964 with the British invasion, inspiring him to take up the guitar. Naturally adept at playing, he began singing and performing that same year.
Artists that had an impact on Billylee include Eric Clapton, B.B. King, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Freddie King, John Mayall, Albert King, and Robert Johnson.
His first paid performance was in 1966 at the age of 13, getting paid $40 for a 3-piece band to play at the YMCA, performing Blues, Rock/Blues, Cream, Hendrix, etc.
Billylee recorded his first record in 1972 and another in 1973 which included “Pontiac Blues” by Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1975 he recorded a full-scale album titled No Rest for the Wicked with his Blues-Rock trio, Truth ‘N Janey. The album has achieved near cult status internationally. They would go on to record two more records. Besides Truth ‘N Janey,
Billylee has been in numerous other bands over the years, including the Driving Wheel Blues Band, Enoch Smokey, the Billylee Janey Group, Dennis McMurrin & the Demolition Band, The Janeys (a Ma/Pa/Son trio), as a featured special guest of The Blue Band, Blue Janey, Molly Nova & the Hawk, the Ernie Penniston Band, Billylee Janey’s Compact 3, and the Billylee Janey Band.
He has also had the occasion to perform with Blues luminaries Buddy Guy, Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Bo Diddley, Kenny Neal, and the Kinsey Report. He has shared stages at shows and fests with Savoy Brown, Johnny Winter, Johnny Copeland, Koko Taylor, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Tinsley Ellis, Joanna Conner, and John Mayall, and has toured with Leslie West. Just a few of the fests include Bellevue, Chicago Blues, Living History Farm, Keokuk Blues, Mississippi Valley, Iowa City Jazz, Sturgis Falls, and Bluesmore.
Janey was inducted into the Iowa Rock n Roll Association’s Hall of Fame for his work with Truth ‘N Janey, his recordings have been reviewed in Living Blues, Blues Revue, and Blues Access, and he has performed on Iowa Public Television. He has spent time both as a music promoter in the early ‘90s, and also as a stage hand working shows by Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and George Thorogood. Janey has been teaching Blues guitar at West Music for the last 13 years.
He has recorded with Carol Thomas and also fellow Iowa Blues Hall of Fame inductees, Sam Salomone, Bob Dorr, and Patrick Hazell.
Today, Billylee continues to test the waters with his solo career and his 14th and latest release Gimme Some Lightnin’ – on the Texas-based Rockadrome label.
While he is staying busy these days with performances, recordings and many a late night writing and composing, Billylee hasn’t forgotten what this is all about for him. “I want to share with people what I feel in my heart, continue to give something new to the people who support live music and challenge myself.”