Billo Smith

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W. J. "Billo" Smith (1930 - 2023) was born to professional musicians at Brisbane, Australia. He studied piano from age five, but his musical career really began at 13 when he studied clarinet with his father, a prominent Brisbane musician and band leader. At 17, the younger Billo joined his father Billo Smith seniour's 12 piece band at the famed Cloudland Ballroom, playing sax and clarinet. Aspiring to a classical career, he won the Queensland clarinet championship at Brisbane Eisteddfod in 1956. A scholarship to enter the New South Wales Conservatorium followed, where he studied clarinet, piano. Whilst there, he took up oboe, flute and double bass, playing for many classical recitals. Billo jnr was appointed principle clarinetist with the Conservatorium orchestra. He also sang in a Minotti opera. After 2 years full-time study he realised his forte lay in the jazz arena. In 1972 he moved to Queensland's Gold Coast where he teamed up with ex Horrie Dargie men, Vern Moore and 'Doc' Bertram, to form a vocal and harmonica trio with the Ted Preston Band, which was based at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club. Although Billo retired from playing professionally in 1995, he remained heavily involved in composing, arranging and publishing music in all styles. His musical focus shifted to more Christian themes in the latter decades of his life. He also recorded several CDs which were published independently, playing the lead on his alto saxophone.