Bill Barron was born on March 27, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest of five. His first interest in music was encouraged by his mother, who bought him a piano and gave him lessons at the age of nine. At the age of thirteen, Bill switched to saxophone and studied musical theory, harmony and counterpoint throughout high school. He left school in 1944 to go on the road with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, through whose ranks have passed the such legendaries as Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane and Johnny Coles.
Barron's civilian musical career was interupted with his induction into the army where he continued playing and arranging for the army band, which included fellow jazz-artists Randy Weston and Ernie Henry. After his discharge, he moved back to Philadelphia where he enrolled at the Ornstein School of Music where he studied theory and compostion. During this period, he also began performing with Red Garland's Quartet and Philly Joe Jones' group.
In 1958 Bill made the move to New York and soon began appearing with Cecil Taylor, Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd, Ted Curson and again with Philly Joe Jones. During this period he also began recording a series of LP's of under his own name for the Savoy and Audio Fidelity labels.
In 1964 Barron and Ted Curson took a group through Europe where they played in some of the major clubs, made radio and television appearances and performed at the Lugano Festival. Upon returning to New York, he continued to lead his own groups and performed with Randy Weston, Grachan Monchur and Cecil Taylor. After a year in New York, Bill returned to Europe and played clubs, concerts and festivals throughout Belgium and Scandinavia. He also wrote original music for the Swedish and Danish radio bands.
Returning again to New York in late 1966 he went back to the Ornstein School of Music and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in composition. Then in 1972 entered the Doctoral Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduating with his Doctorate in Education. This led to a position as Full Professor and Director of Jazz Program at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Bill held this esteemed position until his death on September 21, 1989.