Top 10 Billy Vera Songs

Billy Vera Songs

Our Top 10 Billy Vera Songs list presents the best Billy Vera Songs like “At This Moment,” ‘With Pen in Hand,” “I Really Got the Feeling” and many more. California-born but New York-raised William Patrick McCord is better known by fans around the world as Billy Vera. Born on May 28, 1944, he is the son of former NBC announcer Billy McCord. His mother, Ann Ryan, was one of the Ray Charles Singers that backed Perry Como on his television show and hit records.

His Own Man

In 1962, Billy Vera began his recording career as a member of the Resolutions. As a songwriter, he wrote for Fats Domino, Barbra Lewis, Ricky Nelson, the Remains, and The Shirelles. As a singer, one of his standout performances took place in 1967 when his duet with Judy Clay was placed on the record charts as the first interracial love song. “Storybook Children” was the song that made history. As a result, both artists became fan favorites, especially in Harlem. Their second duet, “Country Girl-City Man” was also a hit single that would make an appearance on America’s official music charts.

Throughout the 1960s, Vera was at a career-high. When the 1970s came around, he experienced a commercial slump as a singer-songwriter. However, it was a decade where he served as a conductor for many acts that specialized in oldies music. It wasn’t until 1979’s “I Really Got the Feeling” performance by Dolly Parton did Vera seem to get his groove back. This was the same year he moved out of New York to Los Angeles

The Beaters

Since moving to Los Angeles, Billy Vera has written songs for Warner Bros. Records. He, along with Chuck Fiore, put together a band to play at the local club scene, fashioning themselves after the Ray Charles 1950s era. This is what officially began Billy & The Beaters. It didn’t take long before the popularity of this group reached Alfa Records. The Japanese recording company offered a contract after recently opening its American branch in L.A. The album, Billy & The Beaters was a live recording that was released in 1981. From it came a couple of minor hits that would chart that year, including “At This Moment.”

In 1982, Vera recorded and released a self-titled solo album that featured instrumental music from The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section. This album narrowly escaped obscurity after Alfa Records opted to shut down all of its American offices the same year. On a commercial level, the album failed to make a chart impression of any kind at the time.

When it was realized recording as a successful solo artist was not in the cards for him, Vera returned to playing clubs in Southern California as Billy & The Beaters. As fate would have it in 1985, a producer from the television show Family Ties was in the audience when “At This Moment” was played. It became the love song featured on the show each time Michael J. Fox’s character, Alex Keaton, would spend romantic moments with Ellen Reed, his on-screen girlfriend. Tracy Pollan, the actress behind the role, would also become Fox’s real-life girlfriend and wife.

Fans of the show found themselves drawn to “At This Moment.” What used to be a minor hit in 1981 suddenly became a number one hit in 1987. This song, along with the rest of the material featured on the 1986 release of The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters, were reissues of most of the recordings that came from Billy & The Beaters and Billy Vera.

Hollywood Notes

“At this Moment” was a song that launched Billy Vera’s acting career where he appeared in various movie and television productions such as Baywatch, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Days of Our Lives. In addition to this addition to his resume as an entertainer, Vera also produced theme songs for television shows such as Empty Nest and The King of Queens.

While establishing himself as a Hollywood influence, Vera co-produced three albums credited to Lou Rawls. Rawls recorded seven of Vera’s songs, including the 1990’s “Papa Come Quick (Jody & Chico).” This was the same song Bonnie Raitt picked for her album, Luck of the Draw.

Since 1999, it’s been Billy Vera’s voice heard on the Mini Mart commercials featured on the radio stations. He is also one of the top voice-over artists in Los Angeles.

Billy Vera Legacy

Billy Vera has become more than an actor, singer, and songwriter. He’s also a music historian. When he isn’t archiving, producing, and writing notes related to the music industry, he’s recording his own material. In 2012, he released Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. In 2013, he won a Grammy Award for Best Album Notes for his effort.

When walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you can find Billy Vera’s star at 1770 Vine Street. He earned this star on February 16, 1988. His legacy also includes twenty-two album recordings, as well as twelve singles, and four theme songs that were written for music and television.

He’s also published written material as an author in both fiction and non-fiction format. Harlem to Hollywood was a 2017 publication that received favorable reviews that led to Alan Swyer’s award-winning documentary on Billy Vera.

Top 10 Billy Vera Songs

#10 – Baby All My Life I Will Be Driving Home To You

Fans of the series, King of Queens, may recognize “Baby All My Life I Will Be Driving Home To You” as its theme song. This was a Billy Vera composition that put viewers on notice that Kevin James and the rest of the cast were about to entertain the audience for a half hour’s worth of television comedy. The sitcom made its debut on September 21, 1998, and ran for nine seasons. May 14, 2007, marked the 207th and final episode of the series. For Vera, his contribution to the show earned him a place in Hollywood as a favorite go-to source for musical material in big-screen and small-screen productions. The song is short and sweet but it served as a great little tune among a fan base who appreciated its contribution to one of America’s favorite comedy sitcoms.

#9 – Don’t Look Back (featuring the Remains)

“Don’t Look Back” was a song composed by Billy Vera that was recorded as a single by the Remains in 1966. The group specialized as a garage rock band that had their self-titled album released while they were signed to Epic Records. Originally, this song was written by Vera as an assignment so that soul singer Chuck Jackson could potentially record it as another one of his hits in a week’s time. As it turned out, he opted not to record it and it became an opportunity for the Remains to be the first to do so. For the band, this became their signature song but it was a band that failed to make a big impact on the music scene at the time.

For years, it seemed “Don’t Look Back” was jinxed as a song as there were several artists, including Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett, that were poised to turn it into something. It wouldn’t be until Robert Plant’s 1990 performance that “Don’t Look Back” finally got the recognition it deserved. For Billy Vera, this was a triumphant experience.

#8 – I Can Take Care of Myself

In 1981, “I Can Take Care of Myself” became a number thirty-nine hit for Billy Vera after it was released as a single. At the time, it had more success than “At This Moment” when it was first released on the album Billy & The Beaters. For Vera, this was a song that served as a turning point in his music career. Up to this moment, his time as a songwriter for Warner Bros. was difficult. It was during an era when musicians were writing their own material and had little need for songwriters like Vera. So, as Billy Vera & The Beaters, this was a song they recorded themselves.

#7 – Life Goes On

“Life Goes On” was the theme song Billy Vera wrote and performed for the television series Empty Nest. The show ran from 1988 until 1995 as a widowed father of two fully grown daughters. It was a spinoff from the hit series, Golden Girls, that enjoyed a solid seven-season run. While “Life Goes On” wasn’t designed to be a hit single for music charts, it became a familiar favorite among fans of the sitcom series. Richard Mulligan was the star of the show that portrayed a widowed physician making a point to move forward with his life the best he could. Although the song is less than a minute long, it drove the message home that life does go on whether we want it to or not.

# 6 – Between Like and Love

In 1988, Billy Vera’s “Between Like and Love” became a number nine hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. In Canada, it was a number six hit on its Adult Contemporary chart and a number seventy hit on its Top Singles chart. On the television drama series, Days of Our Lives, this was the love song that was shared between on-screen lovebirds, steve “Patch” Johnson and Kayla Brady. Fans of the series fell in love with this ballad as much as their fondness of the fictional couple that steamed up afternoon television, off and on, since 1986.

#5 – Country Girl-City Man (featuring Judy Clay)

On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Country Girl-City Man” became a number thirty-six hit after it was released as a single in 1968. For Billy Vera and Judy Clay, this was the second time the two would chart as a duo. The duet also became a number forty-one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. As a man from New York City, Vera was the contrast to Clay’s country girl roots from Georgia. As a song, the attraction of opposites became a favorite among the fans who found the musical pair-up of Billy Vera and Judy Clay awesome as they were among the first interracial duos to record love songs together that became confirmed hits. The first was “Storybook Children,” then “Country Girl-City Man,” and “When Do We Go.” The third of these three singles didn’t quite crack the US Billboard Hot 100 but it did peak as high as number six on its Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.

#4 – Storybook Children (featuring Judy Clay)

“Storybook Children” was a song Billy Vera wrote that was brought to Atlantic Records in 1967. This was considered a groundbreaking number as a mixed-race love song performed as a duet in the United States. This single peaked as high as twenty on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and at number fifty-four on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also popular in Canada, peaking as high as number fifteen on its Adult Contemporary chart. For Clay, this was a big step as she made a name for herself as a gospel singer. It was the first of three duets she performed with Billy Vera as a singer. What made this song a standout favorite was the reference made to children who aren’t bogged down like adults due to choices that dictate the direction of their lives.

#3 – With Pen in Hand

Released in 1968, ‘With Pen in Hand” became a number twelve hit on the Canadian Top Singles chart. In the US, it was a number twenty-five hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and a number forty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was a Bobby Goldsboro original that was a 1968 release from his album, Honey. It addressed divorce as an issue, along with losing custody of the narrator’s only child. It was a lyrical plea for the love interest to reconsider parting ways as he didn’t want to lose the child they had together.

This became a popular song to cover in 1968 and not just for Billy Vera. Vikki Carr, Johnny Darrell, Bobby Goldsboro, Conway Twitty, and Jerry Vale each released their own versions of “With Pen in Hand.” For each artist, except for Twitty, it earned a place on various music charts In 1977, Dorothy Moore performed an R&B version that became a number twelve hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

#2 – I Really Got the Feeling (featuring Dolly Parton)

On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, “I Really Got the Feeling” was a number-one hit that credited Dolly Parton as the singer and Billy Vera as the songwriter. For Vera, this 1979 release was the comeback he needed to pull out of the slump he experienced during the 1970s. In 1978, Dolly Parton’s twentieth studio album, Heartbreaker, was released by RCA Records. It was released with the intent to win over country music fans while “Baby I’m Burnin'” was a single from the same record aimed to win over pop music fans.

For Parton, “I Really God the Feeling” became her tenth number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Although it’s Parton’s vocal talent featured in this song, it was Vera’s penmanship that was instrumental in earning Parton another solid hit as one of the world’s most celebrated superstars in the music industry.

# 1 – At This Moment

In 1987, as Billy Vera & The Beaters, “At This Moment” became the number one US Billboard Hot 100 hit after it was released as a single for the second time. It remains his most successful song release to date. However, when it was first released in 1981, it was a minor hit at best, peaking as high as number seventy-nine on the same chart at the time. After it was first aired in 1985 on an episode of Family Ties during a first kiss scene shared between two characters, the popularity of the song soared. “At This Moment” was a live recording that featured Billy Vera & the Beaters in 1981 while they were performers at the Roxy in West Hollywood.

When “At This Moment” was reissued in 1987, it also became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, and in Canada. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it became a crossover hit by peaking at number forty-two. In Australia, the song peaked as high as number eleven and it was a number twenty-six hit in the Netherlands. This was a feat that took place ten years after Vera wrote the song.

Feature Photo: Losev Artyom / Shutterstock

Top 10 Billy Vera Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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