By David Beard
As I sit here typing this I’m still trying to reconcile that Billy Hinsche is longer physically present in the world. He’s certainly here in spirit, but I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. There’s so much I still wanted to talk to him about. He was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge, and he had more than his share of stories to go along with each little nugget of information he knew.
Billy was a vault of information. His musical acumen, storytelling, and his sense of humor were unparalleled. If you were lucky enough to have met Billy or tuned into his weekly Live From Billy’s Place Facebook show you had a pretty strong sense of his depth of knowledge, ease of storytelling, and endless connections. Everyone knew Billy.
I’ve been working diligently on ESQ’s Billy Hinsche commemorative issue, and have amassed a wonderful collection of testimonies for that future edition. While that process continues I wanted to be sure to celebrate Billy on what would have been his seventy-first birthday. To do that, I felt a previously unprinted short Q&A with Billy and his sister Annie, a couple of quotes, and a rare video performance of “One In A Million” by Billy was my personal way of letting Billy know he’s alive and well in my heart.
Lorne Michaels filmed Brian’s birthday – It’s OK Special
ESQ: What do you remember about the big Lorne Michaels production, and filming Brian’s birthday at Carl and Annie’s house?
Billy Hinsche: First, Carl and Annie were living in the most spectacular house right there on Broad Beach Road. I called it ‘Moroccan Roll’ because it was designed after the Moroccan Hilton’s lobby. The house was owned by Del Webb’s wife Toni, and she rented it out. It was an incredible home.
Annie Wilson-Karges: That was at our rental beach house in Malibu. It’s right there at Zuma Beach. I recently drove past that house. You can’t help but see it because it’s ‘right there.’ … The tiles on the roof were this beautiful emerald green, and the style of the home was Moroccan.
On the day of the filming, Paul and Linda McCartney were there with their children. It was perfect because Brian’s and Paul’s birthdays are only two days apart. (And by the way, my grandson Dean was born on McCartney’s birthday, and Justyn and Britta’s anniversary is June 18, too.) That party was fun and easy. While they were filming, we tried to act as naturally as we could. Dennis and Karen lived down the street, so they walked up and came through the back door.
Billy: It was really something when I pulled up to Carl and Annie’s house that day. Paul McCartney and his family had just pulled up in front of me. There’s Paul and Linda with their kids. I’m freaking out in my car … it’s like. “Oh man, Paul McCartney’s about to walk into my sister’s house?” Hello! And Marilyn had just arrived. We’re all walking in together. But I did say, “Hi Marilyn,” so she would turn around, and then maybe he would turn around, and then I could home in on their conversation [laughs]. And McCartney’s in a blue Hawaiian shirt, walking into my sister’s house, and it’s for Brian’s birthday! What a memory.
Annie: I remember my father (Otto) was staying with us and didn’t have the energy to walk up the stairs, so Dennis just scooped him up and took him up to the second floor out to the balcony where he could see the ocean and the view. I’ll never forget that. That was typical Dennis. ‘Oh, you can’t walk up?’ ‘I’ll just pick you up.’ For him to pick up my dad – and Carl had a special relationship with my father too – perfectly illustrated the special bond my dad and Dennis had. That was Dennis’ style and it’s a classic Dennis Wilson story.
“Uncle Billy was a constant force for our family. He was a very passionate, loyal, funny, and talented family man. He never had children, but his nephews Jonah and Justyn were like his own. My memories of Billy go back to when I was very little. He was always at Carl and Annie’s house. Annie and he were inseparable until the day he passed away. Billy was a very curious man and loved to talk about why things were the way they were. He was optimistic and had the absolutely funniest personality. He was a little wacky, had a hilarious laugh and nothing phased him. He was fascinated by people and truly loved and respected musicians.
“I loved playing music with him and enjoyed all the collaborations through the years. I loved his piano playing and his love for spontaneous family singing. But mostly, I just loved watching him be Carl, Dennis, Annie, and Celia’s best friend. It’s so hard to believe he’s not here with us … but I know he’s up in heaven with everyone laughing and singing up a storm. I will miss him ‘Forever’.” — Carnie Wilson
“Billy always cracked me up. He was the world’s greatest schmoozer, and he was fearless, funny, and loving. He and I spoke on the phone often, especially the last couple of years when he was doing his weekly live Facebook shows. I’d make theme suggestions for him, and he appreciated those. Billy was a fine musician and a very positive guy. He always wanted us to play a gig at The Troubadour or McCabe’s together as ‘The Two Dollar Bills.’ I teased him that before we booked it, we should try writing a set’s worth of songs together and practice at least once. I don’t think either one of us took the idea seriously, but now I’m sad we didn’t try. Rest in Peace, Billy, you’re in good company.” — Bill Mumy (Actor, Musician, Composer, Writer, Producer)
Thank you, Billy. We love you.
©2021/2022 David M. Beard/All Rights Reserved