William Richard Thorpe was born in Manchester, England, and moved to Australia with his parents at the age of 11. They settled in Brisbane, where Billy made his first TV appearance as a singer before moving to Sydney.
In Sydney, he met schoolmates Vince Maloney, John Watson and Col Baigent, who had practically grown up together, and they began playing together as The Aztecs.
When Tony Barber migrated from England at the end of 1963, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs were complete.
Early hits came with cover versions of Poison Ivy and Over The Rainbow, and Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs quickly cemented a reputation as the most outstanding local group – even blowing away Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas when they supported the Merseybeat band in Sydney. The band also became regulars on Australian TV shows.
Thorpe was declared bankrupt in Sydney in February 1968.
Thorpe was selected as a semi-finalist in the first annual American International Song Festival, which included a visit to Los Angeles. There he became enamoured with the high quality of recording technology and, in 1976, he moved to LA.
In 1979, he released the album Children of the Sun, containing one side of rock originals and the other telling a space myth of an alien race and their visit to planet Earth. Other solo albums followed, including 21st Century Man, Stimulation and East of Eden’s Gate.
Rhythm guitar, harmonica