''My road to Kansas'': MeTV sits down with KANSAS bassist Billy Greer, part 1

Part one of our interview with Billy Greer.

Photo courtesy of David Carstens

As America's preeminent progressive rock band embarks on its 50 landmark performances, MeTV had the privilege to interview Kansas' Billy Greer and Rich Williams, bassist and guitar player, respectively. The "Another Fork in the Road" Tour celebrates 50 incredible years of indelible music, highlighting crowd favorites like "Carry On, Wayward Son," and "Dust in the Wind." 

Billy Greer has been the bassist for Kansas since 1985. Prior to the tour's stop at the Chicago Theater, Billy was kind enough to share his thoughts on his journey from Tennessee to Atlanta, and finally, to Kansas. 

MeTV: Have you played “Carry on Wayward Son” on Guitar Hero ever?

Billy Greer: No, I haven’t. Well I take that back — I tried once and failed miserably at it.

MeTV: You’re kidding!

BG: I just couldn’t get the thumb thing down.

Fair enough. If it was Bass Hero, maybe that would’ve given you the leg up.

Exactly, there you go.

I was just thinking about how if that had been around years ago, I think it would’ve robbed us of a lot of great music. Because I think a lot of kids would’ve gotten instant satisfaction from Guitar Hero instead of gratification from learning an instrument. They would’ve been in their parents’ basements doing that—

That’s where I was, I was stuck — me and my brother in our bedroom, practicing and sweating our ever-loving… off. We were just so hooked on doing that, I mean that’s all we wanted to do. He was the drummer, and I was the bass player. Our cousin was the guitar player and all we wanted to do was just play those instruments. So, we’d spend hours every day doing that.

And that band was called Odds’n’Ends? Is that right?

Yes. Yes, it was. And we still get together — we try to every Thanksgiving — and do a show in my hometown where I grew up. My brother owns a small bluegrass venue there.

Is this the brother — was he the mayor as well?

He was the mayor. He pulled two terms there, and did some good work for the city. And then he bought the old hardware store — which turned out to be an antique shop on one side and a bluegrass venue on the other side where they kept all the feed and seed, for the farmers and stuff. And he has a show about once every month. He’s doing well. It’s a good little venue, it holds 200 people. It’s got so much character. Just old exposed beams and old road signs and business signs and things, it’s so cool.

That’s awesome. What kind of songs do you play when you get together there?

The same ones we played back in the 1960s and ‘70s. The same setlists. We don’t have to rehearse, you know? We got to shake off the dust a little bit, and that’s it. Try to figure out an ending.

That’s incredible.

Yeah, it is.

Going from Odds’n’Ends to QB1, what was the biggest level up, going from being in a band with family to then you start getting radio traction?

It’s what I worked for. I was on that cusp and time and of the age when the Vietnam War was raging. My brother was the prime age, so he had to go into the service, and that kinda broke up our band. And I was in that group of people that had lottery numbers, and I wasn’t called. So I went into college and I got married early. So I had a wife and a kid to support while I was going to college, so I played every week about two or three nights a week in a house band. And just doing five or six sets a night.


It was a tough gig, but it helped me get through those years until I got out of college. Then I got an offer to go down to Atlanta and join a band down there. A friend of mine who had been a local musician in the Kingsport area — where I’d played mostly, in the East Tennessee area — he went down to Atlanta and there was such a great musical scene. He ended up in a band that got a production deal and was able to pay me a small salary to come down and join the band. And that’s kinda how I broke into the Atlanta area. I just saw, as soon as I got down there, how much more was going on, musically, and how much more it was conducive to me to further my career in part of that musical scene.

And as it happens, QB1 was just a studio project that turned into something fantastic for me. I mean it was done on a whim. The guy that wrote the song that became so popular and got radio airplay had gone out and toured with Derek St. Holmes. Derek was the singer for Ted Nugent’s band. After Ted broke up and left the band, [Derek] and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, “Whitford/St. Holmes,” they put together a band and went out on tour. Marty was the sound man and guitar player that wrote the song [QB1 hit “Cold Hearted Woman”]. He came back and he had some money in his pocket and he said, “Look, I’ve written a couple songs, I want you to sing ‘em, let’s go in the studio.” So we did, and he took those tapes and entered them into a contest. All of a sudden, he’s calling me up, “Man you’ve gotta get down here, we’ve gotta do a concert. Our song is blowing up on the radio.” Sure enough it was. We were in heavy rotation, it became like a regional hit. This is a really big AOR station.

It was a big rock station — a lot of other smaller stations would monitor their playlist in the Southeast. So we became known like all over the Southeast, and that was my ticket to Steve Walsh. [The song] caught his ear and he had left Kansas, and he asked me to join his band Streets. And eventually, I did Streets — a couple albums, a couple of tours, and that led me right back to Kansas when Steve went back to the band. So, that was my road to Kansas.

Stay tuned for the continuation of MeTV's interviews as KANSAS looks back on 50 years of the band.

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JHP 9 months ago
Kansas - crank up the radio:)

southern rock - so very good - I cut my musical teeth on bands like them back in the day
marxartz 9 months ago
Great Interview with Billy Greer. They deserve to be Inducted in Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! I look forward to the 2nd part of your interview!! ♥️✌️Thank you for
doing it!
harlow1313 9 months ago
Why Kansas? Why Barbie? Payola?

I have the nose of a hound, and something smells funny,
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 9 months ago
" Payola?"
Would he/she be related to Shinola?
Bricat2001 harlow1313 9 months ago
barbie is tied into the next episode of collectors call, and idk why they are doing a Kansas interview :P, my question is whats with all the batman articles they are putting out lately O.O
harlow1313 Bricat2001 9 months ago
...and the next "Collector's Call" is conveniently tied to the release of the film.
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 9 months ago
Conveniently or strategically. More the latter.
yorgie harlow1313 9 months ago
Billy's interview probably has something to do with bass player Ellen Alaverdyan.
JHP LoveMETV22 9 months ago
no crayola:)
JHP Bricat2001 9 months ago
still better than mama's family or full **** house
Bapa1 9 months ago
Nice, but he wasn't with Kansas in their heyday, (The 70's).
Jaxter14 Bapa1 9 months ago
Only 2 original guys are still with the band that recorded all those great songs, Rich a guitarist and Phil the drummer.
justjeff 9 months ago
Very interesting article, but let me play "Devil's Advocate" here... What had this interview got to do with MeTV programs? Shouldn't Weigel have a dedicated music page (since they do offer an oldies streaming service) for classic rock stories and such interviews? Either way it's informative and entertaining, but it seem as out of place as a dairy farmer at a computer tech convention...
LoveMETV22 justjeff 9 months ago
" a dairy farmer at a computer tech convention... "

justjeff LoveMETV22 9 months ago
You are such a creative Photoshop user. What do you "regularly" use the program for?
LoveMETV22 justjeff 9 months ago
Thank you. I have about 10 or so different Image/Photo software programs. All for personal use.
Compliments back your way on your fontwork, that you share with us from time to time which is very creative.
justjeff LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Thank you as well! Here's the sample images for the batch of fonts I'd recently finished for September release...
JHP justjeff 9 months ago
or a Hindu at a steakhouse
JHP LoveMETV22 9 months ago
just read the cartoon balloons - damm funny!
LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Excellent Article- Love when MeTV is able to interview celebrities. Whether it's a written article like this one or a video interview like the Tina Cole interview and celebrity spots like Betty White, Jamie Farr and a few others. Look forward to the continuation of MeTV's interviews with KANSAS.
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