R&B fans who are fond of the gigantic lineage between bandleaders Louis Jordan and Ray Charles can be assured there's more to the connection than mere stylistic influence -- although, assuredly, there's Moore to the connection than simply Moore stylistic influence. If ever a set of circumstances demanded the introduction of a father called "Junior" and his son Billy, it would be the preceding sentence. Billy Moore, regularly credited as Billy Moore Jr., was a pianist and arranger particularly associated with the Jimmie Lunceford big band.
This Billy Moore, the father of the drummer also named Billy Moore, wrote some material as well for Jordan, including the colorful "She Dyed Her Hair Chartreuse." Jordan, whose background had included playing in the Chick Webb swing band, was a big fan of Lunceford. So was Ray Charles, who later hired young drummer Billy Moore and kept him in his touring band for a long stretch. During the early '60s, Charles produced some excellent late-period Jordan recordings, with the latter Moore holding down the drum throne. Thus Moore winds up with drum credits for Jordan sides, but not on songs written by his father. Discographer Tom Lord has noted the existence of a mysterious Bill Moore or Billy Moore recording a few jazz dates in the '50s, but this action comes along a bit too early to involve the arranger's son. According to his own biographical accounts, he had still been a little boy in the '40s, sneaking out of his house late at night to spy on hip jazz bands in local dives.
Discipline was swift from a set of parents who not only included the aforementioned composer of "Baby, Get Lost" but a mother who was a classically trained pianist. They decided on musical training for the lad and got their money's worth. He achieved a bachelor's degree in music and music education from Florida A&M University, a master's degree in the same subjects from Columbia University, and additional degrees from Columbia State University. His academic career began with the founding of his own Billy Moore Studio of Percussion in Los Angeles in the '70s. When not already committed to the ever-touring Charles, Moore played an amazing range of shows accompanying stars such as Stevie Wonder, Redd Foxx, the Four Tops, and the New Christy Minstrels. Charles often presented Moore in a short solo sequence at the beginning of a concert evening. Skinning and Grinning, one of two discs released under Moore's name, consists of a full set of such solo drum improvisations, and may just be the most brilliant part of his career to date.