Billy and the Kids


An early photo of Billy and the Kids, with Mike Rice at top center.
Bob Gourlie – lead guitar
Ken Laymance – rhythm guitar
Mike Rice – keyboards and vocals
Russ Wagner – bass
Bill Burns – bass and vocals
Bob Burns – drums and vocals

In the mid-60’s, twelve and thirteen year-old kids regularly recorded better music than most of what has been done since by groups of any age. “Say You Love Me” is such a song, featuring a tough rhythm, vocals tossed off without a care, and some wild high-pitched screams. It even has a good guitar solo! The a-side of their first 45, “It’s Not the Same” is definitely lighter pop, but will interest some listeners.

They recorded “When I See You” about a year later, and the band is even sharper, with a fast bass line and frantic drum playing.

I’ve seen Loren Bolinger, who played guitar and keyboards for the Talismen also listed as a member, but I’m not sure if this is correct.

A local article wrote about the group:

‘Billy and the Kids’, five talented junior high school youngsters from East Wenatchee, Wash., make their professional debut on records with ‘It’s Not the Same,’ b/w ‘Say You Love Me.” Uniquely, this group is comprised entirely of 12- and 13-year-old boys who write all their own material. This group consists of twins Bill and Bob Burns on the drums and guitar, lead singer Mike Rice, lead guitar man Bob Gourley [Gourlie], and Ken Laymance on the rhythm guitar. An attractive and vibrant ‘go-go’ girl, Pam Cartwright, joins the group for public appearances. ‘Billy and the Kids’ demonstrated exceptional poise on their first professional recording endeavor. ‘They play the good hard rock as well as any group I’ve ever heard,’ was the appraisal made by veteran Wenatchee disc jockey Don Bernier, who helped launch the professional careers of these teenagers by recording ‘It’s Not the Same’ on the Julian label, a Bernier enterprise.

The band was managed by the twins’ father, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Burns, who was also a promoter of shows in the area.

In an interview by Oktay Gurbuz, Bill Burns wrote:

My father Ollie Burns (Jollie Ollie) booked and managed us at that time. My father was the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of Douglas, County Washington. He also was a promoter. Every weekend he would rent halls, hire bands (Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Shindig Show, etc) and have dances.

I was able to hear live music and ask the musicians questions. There was a local band The Talismen. They were older guys and Bob Burns (my brother the drummer) and I would go watch them practice. They took us under their wing. I was the bass player. I played guitar but, we needed a bassist.

The first single was released between 7 and 8 grade so [it was] juvenile. The second record ["When I See You"] only a year later was a better recording, for 8th graders. The owner of the local radio station was in on the Julian Label. It was certainly exciting.

We played in Washington, Oregon, Idaho…for kids we had a following. Opening for the Wailers, Don and the Goodtimes, Billy, Dino and Desi, etc. The two records helped.

I have a tape (somewhere) of later incarnation of Billy and The Kids that was never released.

Bob and I formed Double Image, then News, recorded with Meredith Brooks, that album was released internationally. We have a project The Called. Bob Gourley I have not talked to since.

Don Julian Bernier owned the Julian label, issuing records by Wenatchee and Chelan acts the Aztecs (actually from Waterville I’ve since learned), the Talismen’s great “She Was Good” (Julian 105) and “I Know a Girl” b/w “I’ll Take a Walk” (Julian 108), the Chargers, Blane and the Julians, Linda Jo and the Nomads, and Judd Hamilton and the Furies. Don Bernier passed away on August 30, 2010.

Mike Rice and Bill and Bob Burns formed Double Image, a group that lasted until 1972 and had some lineup changes with members including Loren Bolenger, Steve Burdette (vocals), Don Gilbert, Doug Johnston (keyboards), Steve Nelson, Dave McKibbin (guitar) and Eric Peterson. For later photos of Double Image see PNWbands.com.

Russ Wagner went into Brand X, Inc from Portland, OR, with Jimmy Holt, Greg Johnson, Cliff Leisure and Scott Medler. Ken Laymance became a DJ in the Ukraine. Ken passed away in November, 2006. Mike Rice passed away of complications from lung disease due to smoking on February 25th, 2008.

Thank you to Paul Wentink for sending the top photo of the band on the slide and the poster, and for notifying me of Mike Rice’s passing. Bottom photo from the Pacific Northwest Bands site.


Photo courtesy of Bob Gourlie

Live, March 1967

Live, March 1967
The two photos above and four below, Billy and the Kids in the studio, September 1967

Bob Burns on drums

with the Fabulous Wailers in Walla Walla
Below are early photos of the Double Image, which featured Bill and Bob Burns and Mike Rice.

32 thoughts on “Billy and the Kids”

  1. This stuff is great. Pre-pubescent voices atop sleazy fuzz to make a man outta ya. “It’s been so wonderful since you’ve been out of my life.” That’s some real shit. I love it.

  2. Their original 45s are rare and hard to find nowadays. “Say You Love Me” has been reissued on Back from the Grave (vol. 6 on vinyl, vol. 3 on CD) which is still in print and available from Crypt Records.

    I hope this helps.

    1. I lucked out and found a copy of the vinyl version of Crypt Records Volume Six which includes “Say You Love Me” by Billy and the Kids as noted previously. I have listened to it on line, but having the recording (once it arrives) will be great since I will be able listen to Micheal Rice singing when ever I want to on his old stereo. I will still keep watching for an original on the Julian 45.

  3. Ken Laymance is my grandfater. My mom lost his record a long time ago. He past away last year, and I was wondering if their were any records left of Billy and the Kids. It would be greatly appreciated if you could help me and my family out with that.

  4. I know Bob Gourlie! He’s a friend of mine. He still lives in East Wenatchee and does heating and air conditioning work. It’s just amazing to me how great their music is. It sounds just as good or even better than anything I’ve heard come out of the sixties. This is good stuff!

  5. Autumn,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather passing. you may not remember me, but I have never forgotten you. you called me “MiMi” (pronounced Mee Mee) I haven’t seen or heard from your Mom, Tonayia Cher, in several years. I’ve tried many times to find her & your Aunt Rachael on-line, but no luck. I would love to hear from you & your family & hear about all you’ve been doing. I used to have one of your Grandfather’s records, but I looked where I thought it would be & it wasn’t there. I may have given it back to him a long time ago & just can’t remember. My e-mail is s.kensinger@att.net
    Sincerely,
    Julia
    (your Mom & Rachael called me Julie)

  6. Hi. I am the father of Mike Rice. I remember the days of the band well. They were fun times. The band practiced at a local grade school. I hauled the band and their equipment on weekends to school dances in the Wenatchee area. The band members were very popular at school dances and were in big demand. It took alot of my time but also left me with great memories. It is wonderful to see a web site with a mention of the band. Ollie Burns and I also brought bigger bands to Wenatchee for weekend dances. One of the bands was Paul Revere and the Raiders. Thanks again for the memories. Wayne Rice

  7. Mike Rice lived with me in Seattle for 14 years. He passed away due to smoking related lung disease on February 25, 2008. He was 56 years old. His passion for rock and roll never faded. He regularly attended concerts, particularly featuring local rock bands. His favorite radio station was 107.7 The End. He was excited by Seattle’s contribution to the early ’90s grunge and hip hop scene. His positive outlook on life and his wonderful smiles are sorely missed. Paul

  8. My husband, Chase Hensel, was one of the Aztecs. That group was out of Waterville, WA, in fact, not Chelan or Wenatchee. Thanks for the memories.

  9. My uncle was in this band. Kenny :). He became pretty big on radio in Ukraine, not on the instruments but on the Mic as a DJ. I was just thinking of him and remembered this band. I remember the pictures, and the record in my Grandma and Grandpas basement. But the I never got to hear the songs on it until now. What a blessing it is to hear it now. This is such an amazing site. Thank you so much for sharing it :).

  10. really cool to see information about these guys, when i see you is no doubt my favourite sixties bit of punk. im ten years older than they were an cant write a tune half as good

  11. Hi Chels, Your uncle is truly missed. Ken was such a kind and caring person. I was blessed to have had him as a brother-in-law and to have known him.
    Barb Laymance

  12. Dad you rock you will forever be in my heart and near me your music lives on and still makes imprints in peoples lives. Thank you for sharing Billy and the Kids without this sight I would have never got to hear it ROCK ON!!!!!!!!!!

  13. A good friend wrote to me with the sad news that Don Julian Bernier, the owner and producer of the Julian label, passed away on August 30, 2010. Some information can be found here

  14. Back in the mid 90’s, Don told me that the masters and a “garage full” of Julien 45’s were sold to a collector. I’ve been able to figure out that he was in Coldwater, MI but have gotten no further. Anyone know if 1) the guy is still around and b) if so, are the tapes?

  15. I know the person who bought the tapes. He still has them. However, there are missing tapes, for instance, the masters for Billy & The Kids were not there.
    He made me dubs of the only unissued sides in the lot – three songs by the Chargers.
    He didn’t get a “garagefull” of Julian 45s – there were only a handful, maybe 15 or so – a few multiples of both Talismen 45s, one or two copies of Billy & The Kids 45s, while the rest of the small lot consisted of the pop / country sides.

  16. I am the owner of the Julian records master tapes. Don Bernier found me (through a newspaper ad I ran up there) and I had a few conversations with him about the history of the label and the bands. A few months later, a package arrived at my door,containing the remaining master tapes, about 75 copies of the second Talismen single and two copies of Billy And The Kids’ second record mixed in. As MopTopMike said above, the Billy And The Kids original masters were not there, however there was a compilation tape that included an alternate take of “When I See You”. There were also three unreleased Chargers cuts, numerous takes of The Talismens’ “She Was Good”, an unlabeled tape containing a ballad type song, plus the masters for several of the 45’s. The master to the Aztecs single was also absent. Anyone interested in doing a re-release of some of this stuff is welcome to contact me at mr45guy@yahoo.com.

  17. Hello, My name is Curt Dorey, I was one of the Chargers and was wondering how I might get copies of the 3 cuts that were never made public?

  18. Curt, We were in Mr. Nuttings class in high school and also Mr. Mccammet Band class.. I have the songs of Billy and the kids and also the Talismen. I worked for John Wood for a while. I’d like a copy of your Chargers music. I used to have the 45’s but my sister gave them away. Is there anyways I can get an MP3 of them.

  19. I was married to the man that run the recording studio back in the 60 in Pine Hills…I use to sing with a guy called Kenny Gore/Kenny Jones..I am trying to find him..any clue to where he is???? JOY

  20. Just a note to compliment this site….wonderful stuff. I remember the old days when the Chargers used to chuckle and guffaw over “The Kids”…yes they were younger than us, but we cannot claim to be better…they plowed new ground and continued to do so long after the Chargers were dead and gone. I love the Burns boys,we communicate via e-mail frequently and I pray we may be able to get together soon… they will always have a place in my heart…and condolences to those who lost their husbands, fathers, etc…rest in peace, you departed “Kids” brothers…Amen.STB

  21. Hi Phyllis,

    Came across your post and I’m trying to get a good email address for Chase as well as Martin so that I can let them know about plans to re-issue the Aztecs recording…if you see this, please let me know how I can get in touch. Thanks!

    Cary Ordway

  22. We went to hear the Chargers at the eagles a few weeks ago and they were great! I hope they keep playing in Wenatchee. Saw where Steve Nelson passed away (he was a nice guy). Wished Billy and the kids would do something also.

  23. Sorry to hear about Ken and Mike. I met Ken in his post Billy and the Kids days while he (also his brother Dean) were “propping” in an orchard north of Wenatchee (the summer job blues!). We didn’t “prop” much but spent the time “dry rehearsing”-(no instruments) rock songs we both knew. Sensing fame and fortune, we then acquired Mike Rice (who had a great voice) and Wenatchee’s Bill Krakowka as drummer, and after only one actual practice we packed the mighty Twisp Eagles Hall. Our one and only gig! We had a band name but I can’t remember it. RIP Mike and Ken-you were both talented “Kids!”

  24. RE: Billy and the Kids
    I was Mike Rice’s sister and I was so proud of my big brother. I was pretty young, but I remember the boys rehearsing in our front yard. All the members were so nice to me. I thought Pam the go go girl was so pretty and I had a crush on Paul Laymance. Those were the days. Bill and Bob played at my Wenatchee high school graduation party. I married a guy from Waterville and his friends where in the band “the Aztecs”. Thanks for all the great memories.

  25. Collecting any infos about Billy and the Kids, I would like to contact Pam Cartwright the Go Go girl who is pictured with the Kids and The Fabulous Wailers and on the classic band picture with the car. Thank you very much in advance. oktaygurbuz71@gmail.com

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