Billy Franks – The Beautiful Rebel

billy franks

Have you ever met someone who just captivates you right from the first moment of meeting them?

It’s like a bright light beams out from their soul – and you can’t put a finger on it, but you just know the world is a better place for having them in it.

That’s what it was like meeting Billy Franks.

Billy Franks had incredible talent as a performer, singer, songwriter and storyteller. And this was certainly how he initially reached and touched so many lives.  But to me he was more than that….

I remember the very first time I saw Billy play.  It was winter of ’94 and I had just turned 21.

I had always loved live music, and considered myself something of a ‘rock chick’ 🙂 So when a friend from work invited me to a live gig – I jumped at it.

I went along to The Swan in Fulham – I’d been there many times to see other bands play, some good – some really not!  So I didn’t have particularly high expectations.

Little did I know that this one night would actually shape the rest of my 20’s and have a profound impact on my life.

On this particular night, I actually met 2 special people for the first time.

The first was a fellow rock chick called – Sue Clarke, she was actually a friend of my friend, and she had already become a fervent follower of Billy Franks.

It turned out that we were to bond pretty much straight away over our love for wine, dancing and Billy, (and we would spend many years together pursuing these enjoyable pastimes).

The Boy Who Was Afraid of Nothing

Then enter stage left (or pretty much stage front – directly from the bar) Billy Franks.

The first thing that struck me about this guy, was his boyish good looks, and his ability to look at me and make me blush instantly haha – I don’t think he ever lost that 🙂

billy-franks-3When he played on stage, not only was his music incredible with fantastic melodies, heartfelt lyrics, he had an energy and presence that just lit up the stage.

You couldn’t help but be completely absorbed and enchanted by his performances.

It probably took me about 6 months to get over the complete awe I was in every time I saw him.

Eventually, we became good friends and this was when I really started to learn about the real Billy Franks.

The funny thing is, it’s only in later life did I fully understand him.

I always saw Billy as a free spirit, not one to have his wings clipped – and I think this was one of the things I loved about him most.

In hindsight, I still believe that of him, but much more, I now understand that he was an awakened soul.

The Rebel Angel

Looking back at his life, he pretty much bucked at convention.  The 9-5 and all of it’s constraints were not for Billy, and he was going to live life on his terms doing what he loved.  Back in the day – he was probably viewed as a rebellious character.

Billy FranksThe word rebel tends to conjure up images of someone rising up in opposition – and have aggressive undertones.  Billy was a rebel, and he did fight for what he believed in – but in a compassionate way.

Billy was passionate about his music, but predominantly he was passionate about people.   It’s my belief that he chose to place his faith in humanity instead of religion.

You could see that he loved people and this was very much reciprocated by virtually everyone he met.

Through his music Billy was able to unite people. At every gig you could see people from different walks of life from across different generations all there to celebrate in his music.

For many that is his legacy, and an incredible and beautiful legacy at that.

My lifelong friend Sue and I are testament to that, along with the many friends I made at Billy’s gigs.

 Billy’s Beautiful Heresy

For me, Billy Franks had another legacy.  He followed his own path, and he was lighting the way for others to see.  A beacon to show people, you don’t have to live the conventional life.  You don’t have to be a part of the system.

You CAN live life on your terms:  You have to take risks, you have to put yourself out there and you have to follow your heart.

This is what Billy did.

When he died on 20th September 2016, his light didn’t go out, it remains for others to be inspired by him.

I can’t believe he would have any regrets looking back on his life.  It was a life filled with music, love, passion and adventure and I am honoured to have been a part of it.

I now honour you Billy Franks by living my  best life the way you did.  I think you would be proud of me…

This is how I choose to always remember Billy – full of life and giving it his all 🙂  

I Wanna Be Your Country’ – Billy Franks

To learn more about Billy you can visit his website billyfranks.com

Please share your thoughts about Billy in the comments section below.

billy franks

Taken in 2004. I will miss you my dear friend. I wish you could ‘Sing it one more time…’

My Favourite – ‘Just’ – Billy Franks

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