While Billy Parker was a mainstay on country radio, his claim to fame was as an influential disc jockey, not as a performer; ironically, for all of the Top 40 hits he spun over the course of his decades on the air, not one of them was his own. Born July 19, 1939, in Okemah, OK, he began playing guitar as a child and by the age of 14 had made his professional debut on the Tulsa radio program Big Red Jamboree. A few years later, he began performing in clubs and in 1959 landed his first DJ work.
By 1963, Parker was the regular daytime disc jockey on Wichita, KS' KFDI and also hosted a Tulsa television program. In the same year, he cut his first single, "The Line Between Love and Hate," and was named "Mr. DJ U.S.A." in a nationwide poll, which helped land him at Nashville's WSM. After releasing another record, "I'm Drinking All the Time," in 1966, Parker began playing with Ernest Tubb's Troubadors in 1968 and stayed with the group for three years, when he joined Tulsa's KVOO.
In 1975, Parker was named Disc Jockey of the Year by the Academy of Country & Western Music; he won the award again in 1977, 1978, and 1984. In 1976, he scored his first chart hit with "It's Bad When You're Caught (With the Goods)," from the album Average Man. A series of singles followed, including a tribute to Ernest Tubb titled "Thanks E.T. Thanks a Lot"; while most charted, none came in higher than number 50. In 1982, he scored his biggest success with the title track from the LP (Who's Gonna Sing) The Last Country Song, an album of collaborations with the likes of Darrell McCall and Vassar Clements.
After a record of duets, 1983's Something Old, Something New, he retreated from performing to focus on his work as KVOO's program director but returned in 1988 with the album Always Country. In 1990, he released a gospel record, I'll Speak Out for You, Jesus; two years later, he was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. At about the same time, he was appointed KVOO's executive director.