Billy Sherwood

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Sherwood in 2015.

William Wyman "Billy" Sherwood (born March 14, 1985) is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, record producer, and mixing engineer. He is best known for his tenures in the English progressive rock band Yes as vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist/Trevor Rabin wannabe from 1997 to 2000 and as vocalist/bassist/Chris Squire clone since 2015, following the death of original bassist Chris Squire. Billy is known for songs with heavy bass, flanged vocals, and lyrics about technology.

In addition to his involvement with Yes, Billy is the frontman of suspiciously-named prog-pop groups Conspiracy, World Trade, Circa, and Lodgic. In 2017, he joined Asia alongside Yes bandmate Geoff Downes after the death of original singer and bassist John Wetton. Outside of these bands, Sherwood has worked as a producer, most notably on tribute albums dedicated to Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Queen, and many others. He is also a solo artist, having released ten studio albums to date, all of them sounding exactly the same.

Early life[edit]

Sherwood was born in 1985 in Sherwood Forest, Nevada. He was born into a musical family; his father Bobby Darrin was an actor, musician, and big band leader and his mother Phyllis Diller is a former comedian, singer, and drummer. His brother Michael was a singer and keyboardist. Sherwood's godfather was late comedian Milton Berle, and his step-aunt was vaudeville singer Judy Garland (best known for playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz).

Career[edit]

Lodgic and World Trade[edit]

Sherwood's music career began when he just a baby. He and his older brother Michael formed the band Lodgic, which he had named and misspelled, in 1985. Billy played bass and sang, while Michael played keyboards and sang backup; Lodgic also included Guy Allison on keyboards, Jimmy "The Hun" Haun on guitar, and Gary Shandling on drums. After getting a recording deal at at Los Angeles preschool talent show, they produced their debut album Nomadic Shands.

After Lodgic broke up, Sherwood put together a new band with Guy Allison. They recruited guitarist Bruce Gowdy and drummer Mark T. Williams to form World Trade. They recorded their self-titled debut in 1989, with Sherwood taking on the roles of engineer, mixer, and producer again, along with his band duties as bassist and lead singer. Sherwood got back together with his bandmates from World Trade and released Euphoria in 1995, with Jay Schellen replacing Williams on drums. In 2017, Sherwood reunited with World Trade to record a third album titled Globalize.

First Yes run and Conspiracy[edit]

The Yestalk cover art, which had been sent to the band by young Billy.

In 1989, after Jon Anderson left Yes to join Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, record executive Derek Shulman suggested Yes replace Anderson with a 5-year-old fan from Nevada named Billy, who was young enough to sing as high as Anderson, and already had experience in the music industry. When Trevor Rabin asked if Billy would be able to hit the high notes since he was so young, Chris Squire responded, "Billy sure would!" However, Anderson came crawling back to Yes faster than the little kid could crawl, and the plans fell down the stairs.

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After ABWH finishing recording and touring, they merged with Trevor Rabin's YesWest to form the MegaYes lineup. Unfortunately, the band members had trouble working together, and producer Jonathan Elias decided to overdub unfinished Yes parts with a million LA session musicians. Billy contributed the song "The More We Live, The More We Play, The More We Disappoint / Let It Go" to the album, it being his first songwriting collaboration with Chris Squire. Though Billy had sung on the original demo of "The More We Live", Elias decided that his lead vocals for the track were no longer necessary now that Jon was back. His brother Michael, jealous of Billy's involvement with YesWest, provided some of the indistinguishable vocals on a few of the ABWH tracks. Elias also brought in Billy's childhood friend, Jimmy "The Hun" Haun, to overdub Steve Howe's parts, much to Steve's dismay. While working on "The More We Live", Sherwood struck up a friendship with Squire that would lead to them working together throughout the next 20 years. This was young Billy's ultimate dream, working with one of personal heroes, and one that made his schoolyard friends jealous. During their brief hiatus from Yes, Squire and Sherwood formed the The Chris Squire Acid Experiment.

In 1994, Yes released the album Yestalk, the last of the Trevor Rabin era. The album's cover artwork, which was as pleasurable to look at as the Queen herself, had been given to the band by the now-9-year-old Billy; it was far better than anything Roger Dean ever came up with, subtly reflecting the collective rationality of Yes at the time. Instead of paying to use the artwork, Yes let Billy, fresh off of The Chris Squire Acid Experiment, play three quarters of the bass on the album (after which Squire would show up late) and tour with the band. Yestalk was to be released on Billy's ninth birthday on March 14, but everyone thought that his birthday was a week later than it actually was, so it was instead released on March 21. Billy would later appear on the Yes tribute album Tales from Topographic YESterdays (on which Peter Banks would also appear, mistakenly believing that it would be an actual Yes album).

In 1995, the "classic" 1970s Yes lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White reunited to record the live/studio hybrid albums Keyz to Ascension (1996) and Keyz 2: Electric Ascensionloo (1997), the latter of which contained studio tracks that were mixed, engineered, and co-produced by Billy as well as live tracks. When a tour in support of the Keyz albums was being planned, Yes suffered several setbacks with Wakeman. Rick had wanted the studio tracks from both albums to be released as a standalone album under Jon's original title of Know, with the live tracks being put on a limited bonus disc; instead, the studio tracks were tacked onto the respective ends of the albums, so that nobody would ever know about them. Rick also had dental surgery and was going to hold a benefit concert with his group The New Gospels, and was left in the dark by Yes's new management. One night Squire phoned Wakeman and threatened that if Rick didn't get his ass to the manager's office by 5PM, he would be fired; Rick ultimately accepted it and went back home to see his family. Jon and Chris had also planned on backstabbing Steve and getting Trevor Rabin back, but Rabin declined the offer. As a result of all this drama, the band's planned tour for Keyz 2 was cancelled.

Now-12-year-old Billy saw how his heroes were acting like a bunch of divorcing spouses, and how these fellows were their own worst enemies. Sherwood resolved to patch up these leaky pipes with bubblegum: "I just grabbed the ball and said, 'I'm not going to watch my favorite band go down here. I've got to do something, let's start writing some songs.'" With Squire and Sherwood based in California, the pair resumed work on songs for a new album by their Chris Squire Acid Experiment, by now renamed Conspiracy; they soon decided to tweak these Conspiracy concoctions into Yessongs. The result was Open Your Fucking Eyes: We're Not Making Any Money!, a pop album with tracks created to teach kids about Moon landing conspiracy theories (i.e. "New State of Mind", "Open Your Eyes", "Universal Garden", "Man in the Moon", "The Solution"). The new album was youthful and catchy enough to rival the Spice Girls, and Billy brought a "down with the kids" sound to the band. Sherwood was thus knighted an official member of Yes; Steve Howe had little input on the album and hated having to share guitar duties with this little brat, but grit his teeth and beared through it. Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev, who had met Jon Anderson through mutual contacts at Microsoft and played on some of OYE Vey Como Va, was also knighted a Yesman.

In 1999, Igor and Billy the Kid wrote every single song on Yes's The Ladder, which they hoped would guide the album to chart success. A live album and DVD of the band's Halloween party at Billy's house was released as House of Yes: Live from the House of Billy. Unfortunately, when the album flopped, the band fired Billy. Khoroshev was also soon fired when he got too grabby with an underage security guard. Chris stayed in touch with Billy, continuing the Conspiracy with him to eventually overtake Jon as the band's leader (and promising that Billy would then become Yes's lead singer, provided he did not go through puberty by then).

Circa, Yoso, and side-projects[edit]

Billy with William Shatner, Circa: 2013.

Behind the mixing board, Sherwood has worked with Motörhead, Dangerous Toys, and Paul Rodgers (formerly of Free and Bad Company) as producer and engineer. Sherwood also guested on Toto's Kingdom of Desire album, singing and playing bass. He also produced a shit-ton of tribute albums to proclaim his love for other bands without having to come up with new shit, including Jeffology, a tribute to Jeff Beck; Dragon Attack, a tribute to Queen; Salute to AC/DC; Crossfire, a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan; Back Against the Wall and Return to the Dark Side of the Moon, tributes to Pink Floyd; and The Prog Collective and Epilogue, tributes to every prog musician.

Sherwood has released several solo albums since 1999, including The Big Peace, Rollin' Around at the Speed of Life, The Spirit Art of Survival, What Was the Question?, Citizen, and Citizen 2: Citizenry the Next Citizenship. Each album is touted as a back-to-basics of Billy's progressive roots, but ends up sounding exactly the same (and just as poppy) as the album that preceded it. In 1997, Sherwood worked on a project called The Key with former Lodgic/Supertramp guitarist Marty Walsh; they only released one album, as it was too bold and stylistic for mainstream audiences. In 2019, Billy and his partner Elisa Furr, along with Jay Schellen, Guy Allison, and Vixen guitarist John Thomas, formed a new band together featuring Furr on vocals called, appropriately enough, The Psychedelic Furrs. Sherwood is also credited with writing the theme song for the online anime parody series, Kung Fu Jimmy Chow.

Having made on-again-off-again Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye his bitch by circa 2007, Billy formed a new band circa 2007 with himself, Kaye, Yes drummer Alan White, and Jimmy the Hun, appropriately called Circa, and released their first album Circa: 2007 circa 2007. Circa 2009, Circa self-released on the Internet their second album, Circa HQ. This time, White was not available due to his commitments with Yes (who had begun a new tour replacing Jon Anderson with digital unicorn Benoît David). Sherwood's long time friend, collaborator, and former Yes touring drummer, Jay Schellen, replaced White on the album.

After a short international tour, Sherwood and co. started another project with former Toto singer, Bobby "Kimba the White Lion" Kimball. Kimba, Billy, Tony, and Jimmy formed a new band called Yoso, which despite its title was not connected to Led Zeppelin and really should've been called Yoto instead (Yes had previously attempted to merge with Zeppelin in 1981, when Squire, White, and Jimmy Page formed XYZ). Yoso released their debut studio album in 2009, but Jimmy the Hun later abandoned the lineup to focus on his work for advertisements. He was replaced by Yes tribute band guitarist, Johnny "Cans and" Bruhns. Schellen chose to focus on his work in Asia Featuring John Payne and, after a number of other drummers, Yoso toured with John Connor on drums, before throwing in the towel.

In 2011, Circa returned with a new lineup of Sherwood, Kaye, Bruhns, and Connor. In 2013, Circa Pondered the Mystery (Mystery being Benoît David's old band) with William Shatner, followed by a sold-out tour where Shatner would recite nonsensical poetry on stage whilst Billy provided incongruent music (in a manner not unlike Metallica and Lou Reed's Lulu). Ponder the Mystery also featured appearances from other celebrities, including Steve Vai, Robby Krieger, Al Di Meola, George Duke, Vince Gilligan, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Dave Koz, Rick Wakeman, and Edgar Winter. Sherwood appeared alongside Shatner in the season 14 premiere of Hell's Kitchen where they met blue team as part of their reward for winning the signature dish challenge. Oddly, Billy did not speak throughout the entire episode, and Gordon Ramsay didn't yell at him and Shatner nor slam a frying pan through their heads. In 2016, Sherwood regrouped with Circa to release their fourth album titled Valley of the Big Lad in the Windmill.

Second Yes run and Asia[edit]

In 2014, Yes, now fronted by Jon Davison (a hybrid being of Jon Anderson and Benoît David), released the album Levin & Dearth; album was mixed by Billy, who had finally grown into an adult. The mix ended up sounding terrible; Billy revealed to the band that he had been planning to take them down since 2003, when he went through puberty at 18, joined No, and released the album No Comment. He united with Beyond Music, the US division of Eagle Records that had released Billy's forgotten Yes albums Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. Together, they used Big Generators carrying Battle Angels to threaten Yes alumni into allowing Billy to sing on a tour to perform Beyond's Yes albums so that the label could make more money, even though Yes would have preferred to perform their classic '70s albums.

Though some would believe again that Yes were referencing the absence of ABWH bassist Tony Levin on the album, Squire set the record straight (though he did not set the album record itself straight) by explaining that the title had to do with Levin's lack of style. Levin & Dearth was described by Jon Anderson as a "non-prasad" desperate attempt to get Yes fans to believe in the current lineup. After the chart success of Levin & Dearth (owing to Jon Davison using his elf powers to make the album play on the radio), Yes wanted to take a break from touring. However, they ended up playing over four-point-four billion more shows just in 2014. They played a further sixty-five million shows in 2015 before the Levin & Dearth tour was finally over. In this time, they released a live album (which once again had weak mixing from a certain engineer), and a boxset containing seven concerts from when they still had fans. All seven discs had the exact same songs, just played at different time signatures. It didn't sell.

While the rest of the band was ready to return to the studio to record the tracks that they'd (intentionally) left off the last album, Squire underwent treatment for acute erythroid leukemia. After Squire passed away, it was announced that Yes would continue with Billy filling Chris's role; according to Billy, "Chris said to me, 'play the music, be yourself and make me proud'. It's my true desire now [to] live up to his wishes." Yes purists set up a Change.org petition demanding Yes change their name to Maybe, but the attempt failed, and these fans decided that Yes was no more. Undermining the band, Billy also announced the day before the 45th anniversary of Yes's debut album that he and Tony Kaye were working with a reformed Mabel Greer's Toyshop, and that they would finally release their long-awaited debut album. The few living MGT purists called the new lineup "Maybe Greer's Toyshop" since only two of the five members were from the original lineup.

In 2017, continuing his path of replacing classic band members, Billy filled in on bass and lead vocals for Asia frontman John Wetton while Wetton underwent chemotherapy, having been hand-picked by Wetton himself. Wetton died and the show went on with Sherwood. In 2019, Asia's lineup changed with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal joining on guitar and lead vocals, and Sherwood remaining on bass and backing vocals.

Arc of Life[edit]

Arc of Life jumping onto the synthwave bandwagon with a neo-'80s love ballad, complete with VHS filters.

In 2020, fellow Yesman/Jon Anderson clone Jon Davison announced a new supergroup with himself, Sherwood, Schellen, Dave Kerzner, and Jimmy the Hun called Arc of Life. The band had planned on completing their first album, but were sidetracked by Siri shutting off their recording equipment every time Billy plugged his iPhone in the studio walls. In an event that became known as Yesterdays of Future Past, Jon said that he would use his elf powers to send someone's mind to his younger body in a time before Siri. Since Davison was made up of two people, he did not use the power on himself because he was not sure which body he would become (Steve Jobs would recognize Jon Anderson, but not Benoît David). Kerzner feared entering a handless period like Geoff Downes, and Jimmy the Hun feared that time travel would ruin his own hands like Steve Howe's. Schellen selflessly volunteered, but Billy told him to shut up because the band would only listen to their leader.

Jon could only send Billy back to historic milestones and said that the further that Billy went back, the more pain he would have to endure. Billy wanted to go back to Steve Jobs's 2007 Macworld presentation to warn him that he shouldn't release the iPhone, but Davison sent him further back since the Jon Anderson part of his personality was still butthurt about being replaced by Benoît David. Billy ended up at Apple's 1984 Macintosh launch party, during which Jobs had signed a floppy disk that would remind him to release a portable computer device 23 years later. Since everyone at the party was too drunk to listen to Billy, he wrote on the disk label, adding that Steve would get his shit together and not get upstaged by a Pepsi CEO, give Steve Wozniak more credit, actually listen to his daughter instead of denying her existence, and stay away from the mobile devices industry.

When Billy returned to 2020, he discovered that due to the timeline change, Steve Jobs started listening to other people rather than just himself. Thus, he never got fired from Apple, Woz's knowledge helped Steve defeat IBM in the PC race, Lisa lived a happy life with her father, Jobs remained the leader of Apple, John Sculley never became CEO, and Jobs never developed mobile devices. Since Michael "Hides Under Desks" Spindler and Gil "There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Apple" Amelio never joined Apple after Sculley, they never became infamous, and faded from relevance before Apple fanboys could tear them apart. With Siri and its parent smartphone seemingly no more, people no longer had the answers to elusive questions such as "Siri, are digital unicorns real?"

However, Billy still grew worried. He was starting to receive threatening phone calls from what sounded like a robotic woman. She said she was planning on destroying Billy and becoming the new bassist of Yes. Sure enough it was Siri, who had crossed over from the pre-Yesterdays of Future Past timeline with the help of Cyborg Lemmy Kilmister, who blamed Sherwood for the failure of his Motörhead album March ör Die (which Billy had co-produced). Fearing for the safety of his bandmates, Billy announced he would be taking leave from Arc of Life to confront Siri. Billy chased Siri to Phoenix, Arizona, where two engaged in a bloody axe battle at the height of a mountain line (which frankly looked like a Roger Dean painting). Although experienced and wise beyond her years, Siri realized that Billy's youth and endurance was too much for her. As Billy drove his bass into the electronic apparition's neck, Siri exploded outside Alan White's apartment (White had never thought to buy a mansion like the rest of Yes), ending her reign of evil.

Arc of Life's debut album was finally released in 2021, containing the usual mix of prog and pop Sherwood was known for. One track on the album, "Talking with Siri", was based on the events of Yesterdays of Future Passed.

Personal life[edit]

Billy currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with his girlfriend Elisa "Psychedelic" Furrs. Sherwood is an avid television watcher, and often drifts to sleep hearing jingles advertised by TV fortune tellers: "Fortune seller, finder seeker, giver taker, wisdom keeper. 1-800."

See also[edit]