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Billy J. Kramer
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    (August 19, 1943- )
    Born in Bootle, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was William Howard Ashton
    Backing band was the Dakotas
    Recorded the singles 'Do You Want To Know a Secret' (1963), 'Bad To Me' (1963), 'I'll Keep You Satisfied' (1963), 'Little Children' (1964), 'From a Window' (1964) and 'Trains and Boats and Planes' (1965)
    He chose his new last name from a phone book.
    The billing was always Billy J. Kramer 'with' the Dakotas instead of 'and' the Dakotas because the Dakotas were a separate act with their own recording contract.
    Because he and the Beatles shared a manager, Brain Epstein, he got first crack at recording several Lennon-McCartney songs.
    George Martin was reluctant to produce him, feeling that his voice was deficient.
    He may have been the most lightweight act of the British Invasion. (Although Freddie and the Dreamers and a few others gave him a run for his money on that front.)
    He named his dog Elvis.
    Before signing a recording contract, he placed third in Mersey Beat's poll of favorite Liverpool acts.
    He said, 'To have people like John Lennon sit down and play me a song like 'Bad to Me' was a great point in my life.'
    He was not completely dependent on Lennon-McCartney tunes: he had his final big hit with Burt Bacharach and Hal David's 'Trains and Boats and Planes.'
    He recorded 'Little Children' over the objections of both Brian Epstein and George Martin and it became his biggest hit in both the US and UK.
    He spearheaded a successful campaign to get Brian Epstein inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Credit: C. Fishel

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