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Billy Yeager has written and recorded over 2600 musical compositions. In his early 20’s Yeager won several National Songwriting contests. He produced his first album “What’s It Gonna Take” in 1983 and enlisted over 22 musicians to play on which today is considered to be collectable.
On his second album “Be My Valentine” produced in 1985 he played every instrument. (The album was recorded at Circle Sound Studios (The Inner Circle Reggae Band’s private studio.); Yeager was the guitar player for the Grammy Award winning band from 1985-1987.)
Yeager has recorded with jazz greats Ira Sullivan and Jaco Pastorius who considered Billy one of the greatest guitarists he ever performed with.
In 1983 Yeager recorded a jam session with Jaco and then went to jam live at the “Tipperary Pub” in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The performance was filmed on VHS by the bar’s owner and was last seen being auctioned online.
From 1985 until 1992 Yeager confined himself to a small apartment in Hollywood Beach. He took a part time job as a janitor; he would wake up every day at 3 a.m. and returned home at 8:00 a.m. This would allow him to be able write and record songs during the rest of the day and develop his own style.
During this period Yeager recorded over 850 songs on his 4-track recorder.
In 1992 Yeager gave a copy of his original music to Grammy Award Winner Bruce Hornsby backstage at a concert. Bruce called Billy personally from the road while he was performing with the Grateful Dead; Hornsby thought Billy’s songs were very different and original and wanted to help him get a Record Contract with Capitol Records.
Capitol Records advanced Billy money to record better sounding demos at a professional recording studio. Because of the publicity of Yeager being discovered by Bruce Hornsby, he then received a management deal with Larrikin management. Yeager’s music was presented to the Record Companies in 1992-1993. However, in 1992 the industry had changed and the labels were only signing rap and grunge music and Yeager was rejected by every label for the next 2 years.
Billy’s “Wall of Rejection”.
Billy figured if he couldn’t get signed to a label with even the help and support of Bruce, and several other well-known studio musicians who wanted to record on Yeager’s music, then it would never happen.
The Shift to Filmmaker
Yeager had been filming his entire life beginning in 1978.
30 years ahead of his time he was creating what we now know as “Reality Television”.
While people ridiculed Billy for what they did not understand, he never stopped filming (1978- 2001) and instinctively knew he was creating something more than just original, but revolutionary.
In 1992 Yeager purchased 4 video cameras and placed them in his automobile, outside of his apartment, and carried them everywhere he went. He even constructed a homemade aerial crane out of lumber that was nailed together bungee cording his camera atop so he could film himself from 50 feet high in the air.
Yeager’s self-made aerial shot filmed on the beach playing a piano.
Jimmy Story is the name of a fictional character that Yeager created for his film ‘Jimmy’s Story’.
Yeager was close to completing his film that was going to be a story “about the struggles of an artist trying to make it into the music industry”, but the film’s storyline changed its course when many people that were featured in the film, passed away.
Everyday when Billy returned home from his early morning janitorial job, he would visit with several older men that would sit on a beach bench in Hollywood’s infamous Broadwalk.
Billy gave them the nickname “the old gang”.
Billy filmed and recorded their conversations with a video camera for over 12 years.
In the beginning there were 6 of them but as the years came and went, one by one they passed away.
In the latter 90’s Billy’s landlord, who had been filmed for 13 years, passed away, and also his father Ray Yeager who is featured throughout the film until he died of cancer.
In a scene of ‘Jimmy’s Story’ filmed at a cemetery Ray Yeager explains to his son that “chasing music and success is all vanity and chasing the wind”.
Yeager chose to begin and end Jimmy’s Story with a quote from the book of Ecclesiastes.
Creating a film with a vision.
Understanding the significance of producing a film and presenting it to the public, and infused with a sense of purpose as an artist, Billy began to realize the negative corporate side of the music industry and began to loath what he had once desired.
Yeager decided he wanted to challenge the audience’s perception about fame, and people’s obsession with celebrities, while also exposing the media and the press that promote sensational news and trivial matters to the public.
From 1995-1996 Billy began to incubate his “Jimi Hendrix media hoax campaign” becoming one of the most famous people that ever existed that would be “discovered” by the press.
Billy pulled off one of the greatest performance art / media protest by dying his skin permanently black, forging evidence and promoting himself as Jimmy Story, “the long lost son of Jimi Hendrix”.
The Lost Bolero Tapes
To convince the press that ‘Jimmy Story’ was real, Yeager wrote and recorded music which he called “The Bolero Tapes”; these recordings were supposed to be original Jimi Hendrix compositions that had been lost.
Some publications wanted to get an opinion from the experts.
The music was forwarded to those who had closely worked with Jimi Hendrix such as Buddy Miles and Mitch Mitchell.
Yeager’s songs sounded so much like Hendrix that the experts were convinced.
“Working as close to Jimi as I did, I would have to say, I know the Hendrix sound, if someone were to try to fake his music compositions, I would be the one who would know. This kid, son of his, whoever he is, the song “Devil’s got a Sweater” is definitely a Jimi Hendrix composition. There is no doubt in my mind.” – Buddy Miles
“Working with Jimi, listening to him jam, rehearse, write music, I know if I hear a song that was composed by Hendrix, I can tell instantly, from phrasing, chord structures, movements from bridge to chorus, etc. With regards to Jimmy Story and his mother Sunshine, I do not know about, but I can tell you, these songs cannot be faked. Jimi was working on music before he died called the Bolero Tapes, if this is the music and this is his son, from the musical stand point, there is no question about it, you can fake a guitar, maybe a little of his voice, but lyrics, and melody, it’s not possible, from what I hear this kid is the real deal, and I would love to play with him.” – Mitch Mitchell, 1995
The rise to fame as Hendrix’s illegitimate son was a success; Yeager was featured on television news shows, appearing in psychedelic garb, filming the whole facade for his film “Jimmy’s Story”.
Years of filming and over 200 hours of footage was compiled. From 1997 until 2003 Yeager spent many years editing over 6 different versions of the film. “Jimmy’s Story” was finally completed in 2003.
Yeager’s story about the making of the film was featured on Bravo Television in 1998.
The film was quoted as being “epic in scale” and a “masterpiece”.
Dean Treadway, the program director at the DIFF Film Festival stated, “Out of the 700 films submitted Jimmy’s Story is the one that moved me most to tears of joy and frustration”.
Heralded as a major achievement ‘Jimmy’s Story’ won an unprecedented 4 awards at the Dahlonega International Film Festival in 2003 for Best first film, Best director, Best documentary and Best folk film, and Best Documentary at the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
The Controversial “Hoax”?
However, there was a major fallout with the press, that did not embrace Yeager’s media protest performance art.
The press labeled Yeager’s performance simply as a “Hoax”.
Yet within that same retraction letter from XS Magazine they state that Yeager “was correct” in that “the lost son of Jimi Hendrix, would get him more attention than as a local musician”.
Miami New Times writer Greg Baker was also quoted about Yeager’s media protest saying that “I think Yeager wanted to use the media the achieve that end, tearing down the corrupt media industrial complex, I am all for this sort of thing.”
Over 20 years later, the media still tries to marginalize Yeager’s “media protests”, of course…, after all, they are “the media”.
A Perfect Song
Yeager’s next feature film was called ‘A Perfect Song’ which he wrote, produced, directed, acted and also composed all the music.
The film was made with no money. Yeager shaved his head and gained 35 pounds for the lead role. He also performed the role of Lloyd’s brother which he filmed before he shaved his head. Yeager won best actor at the Delray Beach Film Festival in 2004.
In 2000 Yeager began painting with the infamous Florida Highwaymen and filmed a documentary called “The Florida Highwaymen”. Yeager is the only person ever to have painted with the original Highwaymen Livingston “Castro” Roberts. Yeager’s art is now collectable folk art because of the recognition of his films, music and humanitarian projects.
Billy and his wife Anais met in 2005 and spent the next 7 years making their film trilogy ‘Jesus of Malibu’.
The film was completed with no financial backing and not even a one person film crew.
After completing ‘Jesus of Malibu’ the Yeagers returned back to Florida to produce a documentary surf film resembling the old style surf films from the late 1950’s and 1960’s.
Drew Kampion former editor of SURFER , SURFING, and SURFERS PATH stated, “The wonderful thing about this creative product of the combined wills and imaginations of Anais and Billy Yeager is how profoundly it succeeds in quietly crystallizing an alternative reality in the here and now”.
The film was chosen for the NYC Surf Film Festival and Premiered in 2012.
In 2013 the Yeagers were contacted by Maltese Productions who offered to produce a film documentary about the making of their film ‘Jesus of Malibu’.
The Yeagers continue to create art, music and films to change the world.
Their mission is to raise consciousness and “help those who cannot help themselves”.