Billy Ross, Okie Bill, Panhandlers Productions…you may recognize these names…or you may not.  Ross is a very low profile gentleman who has made a few waves in the country music industry and he resides in Cushing, Oklahoma.  He sings, performs comedy, has his own music publishing company and he excels in songwriting.

His business cards read, “Okie Bill Music…lies verified, guitars played, bars emptied, gas tanks siphoned, tigers tamed, music enjoyed, revolutions started, jokes told and governments run.”

You know right away he values having a good time, but it doesn’t talke long to realize this mild-mannered man has a very serious side to him.

A member of the Tulsa Songwriters Association, he has recently had two songs land in the hands of country music star, Garth Brooks’ company.  “I do not know yet if anything will happen, but at least they are looking,” Ross said.

It would not be the first time Okie Bill (who is from Texas) has had a self-penned song recorded.  Actually he has had 16 publicshed or recorded and has written approximately 150.  He is the first to say “no hits.”   After reviewing a tape of Billy singing some of his songs, I do not agree.

“I believe I was the first writer to use the line, ‘storms of life’ in 1973.  My song was ‘The Storms of Life Talk with Jesus,"” Ross said.  “The first song I wrote was ‘Why Do the Women Do the Things the Women Do’ in 1951.”

Ross, who has placed high in several songwriting contests, has appeared on show with Ernest Tubb, Marty Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Dean, Norma Jean and others.  After a bout with bad health, Billy says, “I’ve just about had it and don’t play well anymore.” 

However, I don’t believe the Cushing Senior Citizens and several other audiences would agree with that statement.

His favorite song he has written is “I Hold Your Hand.”  “I wrote that one for my wife for Mother’s Day,” Ross said, “Empty Chairs was written about the Oklahoma City bombing.”  Other inspirational songs Ross has written include “Don’t Burn My Flag” and “Favorite Uncle Sam.”

Ross can go from such romantic words as “I know you’ll be mine until I get through getting old” to singing comedy lyrics such as “I’m telling you dear, my trouble ain’t beer…what’s slowing me down is my glands” taken from the “Beer Belly Song.”

When asked what his funniest moment had been on stage, Ross replied, “doing a show at the Jamboree, we were doing ‘The Streak,’ a Ray Stevens song, when after the song, two men in white coats and a policeman, all strangers to me, came on the stage and arrested me and put me in a strait-jacket and took me off.  It was a made-up deal.  Everyone knew it…but me.”  One old man was overheard telling another, “I don’t know what the ole boy done, but they arrested him right there and took him outta here!”

One of Billy’s songs is, “Will You Love Me If I’m Not Famous?”  By the look in Mrs. Ross’ eyes when he sings it, I’m sure she will…after all, where does famous begin or end anyway?

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