Bill Ashford

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Convinced as a child that real people lived inside his family's console radio, Ashford was destined for a life in music and broadcasting. First album owned: Bix Beiderbeck, on 78s, a Christmas gift from…
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Artist Biography by

Convinced as a child that real people lived inside his family's console radio, Ashford was destined for a life in music and broadcasting. First album owned: Bix Beiderbeck, on 78s, a Christmas gift from his dad. Well-traveled as an army brat, including a couple of years in post-WW II Europe, living in Landsberg, Germany. First records purchased; "Sexy Ways" by the Spiders (78 rpm), and "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley (45 rpm).

Ashford's first taste of radio was a a guest appearance of a Mutual Radio Network record show when he was in high school. He went into radio full-time in 1963, where he has remained, more or less, since then.

A major life change came, when in 1966, Ashford began to meet artists who were traveling through Fayetteville, N.C., where he was working at WFNC. Fred Neil, Tom Rush, Joni Mitchell, Judy Roderick, and Spanky & Our Gang were among many who sang at a local coffeehouse, as a pit stop on the New York City to Coconut Grove circuit. Ashford and Roderick began writing music together, pitching it to Vanguard, Elektra, ABC, and later Shelter and Atlantic, with whom they would eventually sign. Meanwhile, a trip to New York City opened Ashford's ears to the "underground" programming of WOR-FM and WBAI-FM, and he knew immediately which way the wind was blowing. He went back to North Carolina, immersed himself in the new music, and took the opportunity to be involved with the infancy of KMYR-FM in Denver, Co, one of the first of several stations to follow the lead of Tom Donahue's KMPX-FM, and the previously mentioned N.Y. stations. Later would come KRNW-FM (the daddy of KBCO-FM), Boulder, and a stint at KMPX-FM, San Francisco, followed by the outrageous KFML-FM in Denver.

In 1971, Ashford and his writing partner signed with Atlantic Records. What was to have been a solo project for Judy Roderick, eventually became one album by Sixty Million Buffalo. What followed was the usual story. The band broke up. The songwriting partnership splintered in the mid-'70s. During this period, Ashford did some freelance writing, including a radio release kit for Freddie King's first album for Shelter Records, and radio spots for Tumbleweed Records.

Ashford then undertook a radio and life odyssey that stretched from Texas through the midwest, back to Colorado and eventually to Florida, where he resides with his wife and three daughters.

He counts as special his participation in a 1975 conference call conversation with John Lennon (which he still has) and the recording in 1992, of "Floods of South Dakota," which he co-wrote, by Tim & Mollie O'Brien for their Remember Me album on the Sugar Hill label.

Ashford is now operations manager and morning host at WOCA, Newstalk 1370, Ocala, where he talks entirely too much and interviews musicians, writers, doctors, cops, teachers, wanks, politicians, lobbyists, and lunatics. In his spare time, he continues to write lyrics and contributes to All Music Guide.

Desert Island Picks

Susan Ashton Angels of Mercy (Sparrow)

Beach Boys Pet Sounds (Capitol)

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol)

Beatles Rubber Soul (Capitol)

Beatles White Album (Capitol)

Blind Faith Blind Faith (Polydor)

Blind Melon Soup (Capitol)

David Bromberg Midnight on the Water (Columbia)

Tim Buckley Goodbye and Hello (Elektra)

Byrds Notorious Byrd Brothers (Columbia)

Ray Charles Genius (Atlantic)

Marc Cohn Marc Cohn (Atlantic)

Ry Cooder Ry Cooder (Reprise)

Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club (RCA)

Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session (RCA)

Miles Davis Kind of Blue (Columbia)

Miles Davis Porgy and Bess (Columbia)

Delaney & Bonnie The Original (Elektra)

Derek & the Dominos Layla (Atco)

Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (Columbia)

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia)

Eagles Hell Freezes Over (Geffen)

Bill Evans A Simple Matter of Conviction (Verve)

Fleetwood Mac The Dance (Reprise)

Aretha Franklin 30 Greatest Hits (Atlantic)

Marvin Gaye Anthology (Tamla)

Arlo Guthrie Washington County (Reprise)

V/A The Harder They Come OST (Shelter/Mango)

Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball (Geffen)

Buddy Holly 20 Golden Greats (MCA)

Hot Tuna Live at the Boarding House (RCA)

Chris Isaak Forever Blue (Warner)

Jars of Clay Jars of Clay (Silvertone)

Robert Johnson Complete (Columbia)

B.B. King Indianola Mississippi Seeds (ABC)

Mark Knopfler Golden Heart (Warner)

Leo Kottke Standing in My Shoes (Private)

Ronnie Lane One for the Road (Island) (Import)

Little Feat Sailin' Shoes (Warner)

Live Throwing Copper (Radioactive)

Love Forever Changes (Elektra)

Lyle Lovett And His Large Band (MCA)

Paul McCartney Flaming Pie (Columbia)

Memphis Minnie Memphis Minnie (Arhoolie)

Thelonius Monk Essential (Blue Note)

Van Morrison Moondance (Warner)

Van Morrison with Georgie Fame How Long Has This Been Going On? (Verve)

Fred Neil Bleecker & MacDougal (Elektra)

Randy Newman 12 Songs (Reprise)

No Doubt Tragic Kingdom (Trauma)

Tim O'Brien Red on Blonde (Sugar Hill)

Old & in the Way Old & in the Way (Rounder)

Roy Orbison All Time Greatest Hits (Monument)

Joan Osborne Relish (A&M)

Twila Paris Cry for the Desert (Swan Song)

Oscar Peterson Trio Very Tall (Verve)

Poi Dog Pondering Pomegranate (Bar/None)

Otis Redding Story (Atco)

Jimmy Reed At Carnegie Hall (VeeJay)

R.E.M. Monster (Warner)

Robbie Robertson Robbie Robertson (Geffen)

Judy Roderick Woman Blue (Vanguard)

Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. (Atlantic)

Linda Ronstadt Simple Dreams (Asylum)

Leon Russell Leon Russell (Shelter)

Samples The Last Drag (W.A.R.)

Seven Mary Three American Standard (Atlantic)

Paul Simon Hearts and Bones (Warner)

Paul Simon Graceland (Warner)

Frank Sinatra Capitol Years (Capitol)

Sixty Million Buffalo Nevada Jukebox (Atco)

Squeeze Piccadilly Collection (A&M)

Rod Stewart Vintage (Mercury)

Subdudes Lucky (Atlantic)

Keith Sykes I'm Not Strange (MCA)

James Taylor Hourglass (Columbia)

Traveling Wilburys Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (Warner)

Townes Van Zandt The Late Great (Poppy)

Wallflowers Bring Down the Horse (Interscope)

Joe Walsh Barnstorm (ABC)

Ben Webster At Work in Europe (Prestige)

Hank Williams 24 Greatest (MGM)

Jackie Wilson Story (Epic)

Dwight Yoakam Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room (Reprise)

Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise)