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Billy Peterson

Billy Peterson is one of the premier, most celebrated bass players in the world. His uncompromising talents as a performer have brought him widespread recognition, as well as his plenty credits as a composer, arranger and producer. So it is no surprise that the world-renowned bassist is quite often also compared with a chameleon, but not only as he can fill many positions, but also as he is at home in several genres of music weather it be rock, pop, R&B, soul, jazz, folk or country. Peterson´s contributions to the music scene are inestimable and his imagination and boundless enthusiasm behind the bass are singular and stunning. During his extensive musical career, the permanently in-demand bassist has worked with many internationally famous, acclaimed artists, among them Carlos Santana, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Prince, Les Paul or Steve Miller, just to name a few.

Growing up in a household of professional musicians, his talent revealed itself early on while being introduced to a variety of instruments. Already at age 9, he began singing national commercial spots, which was only one of his countless early public musical endeavors. At age 14, Peterson had a live changing event when his mother, the late Jeanne Arland Peterson, taught him how to harmonize the old Irish lullaby, the “danny-boy”, which set Peterson on a quest for a much deeper harmonic understanding and helped him to arrange the orchestration for the 9th grade school band. In the mid-sixties he made his first experiences with the electric bass; this was also the time when Peterson first picked up the upright bass. Taking an interest in any instrument that crossed his path; Peterson studied simultaneously drums (with Elliot Fine of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra) and keyboards (with Ernie Garvin from CBS radio Minneapolis, MN) while still in junior high school. These early influences were the foundation for what was to follow.

At just 16 years of age, Peterson joined The Righteous Brothers, during their peak period of success, on a summer tour in 1967. He also went on a tour with the prominent Lawrence Welk show All-Stars. Throughout his high school years, Peterson continued to play bass and drums in a variety of local orchestras, combos, R&B bands and big bands including bands of his father Willie Peterson, who was a prominent band-leader and Minnesotan jazz pianist. After graduation, Peterson started playing bass with Billy Wallace, pianist of trumpet-legend Clifford Brown, until 1973. The same year, he co-founded, with saxophonist Bob Rockwell, the acclaimed band Natural Life with which he recorded three albums for Celebration Records and went on several US tours from 1974 to 1978. During this time, Peterson was also among the first musicians to record on 3M's first, revolutionary digital tape machine.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson




Swing State



No Method

Fresh Sound Records


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