Two people whose names are variations on Bill Graham are essentially a yin and yang in the entertainment business: the Rev. Billy Graham filling halls full of sanctified prayer while rock promoter Bill Graham does the same with hedonistic boogie. In the meantime, at least a half dozen instrumentalists with the identical name have toiled away since the '30s, often caught up in confusion that has nothing to do with either superstar Graham. Roy Eldridge, for example, worked alongside both the trumpeter and saxophonist named Bill Graham. The drummer Bill Graham recorded with Charlie Parker, whose sidekick Dizzy Gillespie had the saxophonist and composer Graham in his band for years.
Jazz discographer Tom Lord lists a total of five performers named either Bill Graham or Billy Graham; the name "William" seems to be avoided in credits, as if some kind of treaty had been signed. These players would make a very nice combo and a country & western instrumentalist named Bill Graham could be brought in to play bass if necessary.
The trumpeter Bill Graham was the earliest getting started, appearing with Isham Jones bands in the first half of the '30s, recording with Jones in 1935. By 1938, Graham had joined the brass section of Glenn Miller, with whom he tends to be credited as Billy. His most widely heard recordings would be big band sides backing singer Bing Crosby or Jimmie Davis for his legendary hit "You Are My Sunshine." Sessions for the Derby label in 1952 with bandleader Freddie Mitchell are among trumpeter Graham's final recordings.