This little post ended up causing a few of Billy's biggest fans to become upset, and while I've tried to explain that this site is typically written tongue-in-cheek and expresses opinions, and that I actually enjoyed his music, it's kind of hard to convince someone who's never been to our blog before that it's really all in fun. Anyway, a nice thing that happens here sometimes is that people find other fans in the comment section, and we learn more about artists that precious little information was available for online. In this case, a lady named Ruth found this post and not only shared some stories but passed along a press kit from back in the day, which I am happy to share below. Thanks, Ruth!
So I won't. Are you as surprised as I was to learn there was such a thing as Billy ThunderKloud and the Chieftones? Sounds like something from The Simpsons. I was sort of expecting them to be a lounge act, and half assumed I'd find out Billy's real name was Alvin Schneiderman. Thankfully, as tacky as the name and their getups are, these are real Indians. Canadian Indians, in fact, who made country music. Representing the Tsimshian nation, these dudes had a minor hit in 1975 with the song "What Time Of Day." Something tells me that ThunderKloud is not a real name, and that it was in fact lifted from an Amon Düül song title.
This cover of the Bobby Hebb classic "Sunny," which has been covered by everyone, including artists as disparate as Percy Faith, Electric Flag, Cher, Frank Sinatra, José Feliciano, Eddy Arnold, The Walker Brothers, and the Boogie Pimps (Boogie Pimps?!?), appeared on their shamefully named 1974 album, Off The Reservation. It's actually a good rendition. The pedal steel, even though it sounds out of place at first, really sounds great. Towards the end it sounds like the guitar player was auditioning for Elvis' band, but seeing as it was 1974 Nashville, that's a forgivable transgression.
As far as I can tell, Billy is still around, and supposedly made the rather natural transition from cheesily dressed performer to used car salesman...in Nashville.