Who was/is BILLY ELDRIDGE ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

BILLY ELDRIDGE and the FIREBALLS recorded at least four singles for the tiny Vulco label during 1959-1961. The first of these, Let's Go Baby (Vulco 1501), was picked up by United Artists and released on the subsidiary Unart. Henry Stone, Miami's foremost record distributor, label owner and talent spotter finagled a share of the publishing rights and may have produced the disc at Miami's Criteria Studios which would subsequently account for an impressive swathe of soul music history.

Eldridge's bullish aggression and the Fireballs' guitar dominated back-up are compelling elements in a sound that was rapidly falling out of fashion.

During the 60s, Eldridge met up with country singer Gary Stewart, then playing with a variety of rock 'n' roll bands in and around Fort Pierce on the East Coast of Florida. "Bill Eldridge was a policeman", Stewart told Bob Powel in 1975. "He was a few years older than I was and he had a band when he was a teenager called the Fireballs. He was like the town hero when it came to rock music. He had a few contacts in Nashville, and one day I saw him at a local shopping centre and I suggested that we get together and write some songs. I knew that he had written some good songs before so we finally got around to writing some together."

Eldridge wrote over 50 songs with Stewart. After a minor hit for Stonewall Jackson (Poor Red Georgia Dirt) they moved to Nashville and successfully pitched their songs to Cal Smith, Bud Brewer, Billy Walker, Jeannie C. Riley, Jack Greene, Jim Ed Brown, Roy Drusky and Nat Stuckey. Their songwriting led to contracts with Kapp Records where Eldridge recorded two C&W singles in 1969.

By the early 70s the pair had returned to Florida. Stewart became a regular hitmaker at RCA while Eldridge worked small clubs at weekends. His songwriting royalties are still going to an address in Fort Pierce but enquiries there failed to elicit any response.

Eldridge's band, the Fireballs, can be heard on other Vulco singles including Pat Richmond's Don't Stop The Rockin' (Vulco 1500).
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