Basic Background Info

Birth: August 24, 1952
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Genres: Jazz, Rock, Pop
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician



Billy Ward's childhood drum teacher, Jack Volk, emphasized the fundamentals: rudiments, rhythmic patterns, the Chapin book, "holding the sticks properly, reading music, and independence." Billy Ward listened to all kinds of music while developing his interests, including James Brown, Miles Davis, The Who, and Charles Mingus.

Billy Ward attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and worked as a sound technician while he studied. While mixing sound for a Thad Jones/Mel Lewis concert, Billy met Mel Lewis. At Lewis' suggestion Billy went to New York City to buy a set of Zildjian cymbals. When he went to buy them, Papa Jo Jones helped him pick out the perfect set. Billy first recorded in a studio at fifteen, when he became the house drummer for a local gospel label.

However, after two years at the Conservatory, Billy Ward withdrew and enrolled at North Texas State University to study jazz. A six-hour lesson from Elvin Jones influenced Billy Ward to pursue jazz and rock rather than symphony and orchestra. Nonetheless, stubborn and headstrong, Billy Ward quit NTSU after just one week.

Billy Ward played in the greater Dallas area for four years before relocating to New York City in search of jazz and improvised music. He quickly started working in local groups, happy for any performance time he could find, including wedding bands. This experience helped Billy Ward grow into a professional.

Billy Ward's solo album, Two Hands Clapping, and eight-year project, features performances with Bill Champlin, John Patitucci, Joy Askew, Glen Phillips, Jim Beard, and Chris Whitley.

Billy Ward has performed with Jim Beard, Bill Evans Supergroup, Leni Stern, B.B. King, George Russell ,Living Time Orchestra, The Knack, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Richard Marx, ex-KISS star Ace Frehley's Comet, Bill Champlin, Robbie Robertson, Yoko Ono, and Chris Whitley. Billy Ward recently completed a year and a half tour with singer Joan Osborne.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1990 C.O.W. (Conserve Our World) Marc Jordan
1991 Serious Fun The Knack
1991 Storyville Robbie Robertson
1993 Under Siege Gary Chang
1994 Get Up on It Keith Sweat
1995 He Started to Sing Bill Champlin
1996 Cool Rain Amy Sky
1996 Mortal City Dar Williams
1997 Film Noir Carly Simon
1997 Truly Jim Beard
1997 Waiting Heart Amanda McBroom
1998 Very Best of the Knack The Knack
1999 Lyre in a Windstorm Bruce Graitsch
1999 Three Wishes Erica Wheeler
2000 First Things First Doug Fieger
2002 I'm the Man for You Jon Pousette-Dart
2002 Nova Bruce Gaitsch
2002 Serious Fun The Knack
2004 Crack It Open Ina May Wool
2004 Put Down Your Gun Jon Pousette-Dart Band
2005 80 B.B. King
2005 Christmas Means Love Joan Osborne
2005 Heart and Soul Jon Pousette-Dart Band
2005 Life Lines Audrey Martell
2005 Mayfly Cy Curnin
2006 Life Lessons: The Best of Amy Sky Amy Sky
2006 Pull Ben Swift
2007 Little Things Mr. Groove
2007 Out The Door The Billy Ward Trio
2007 Returning Sun Cy Curnin
TBD TBD The Bill Champlin Band
TBD TBD Jon Pousette-Dart


  • "I will always be indebted to Mr. Jones for the many gifts he shared that day." - Billy Ward on his lesson from Elvin Jones

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Drum Workshop
Cymbals: Zildjian
Hardware: Drum Workshop
Heads: Evans
Electronics: Shure
Sticks: Pro-Mark

Pics & Clips