Smilin' Billy Blinkhorn

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b. 28 December 1914, Nanimo, near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The son of a miner, Blinkhorn had ambitions to be a singer and was playing guitar and singing cowboy songs on local radio at the…
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Artist Biography by

b. 28 December 1914, Nanimo, near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The son of a miner, Blinkhorn had ambitions to be a singer and was playing guitar and singing cowboy songs on local radio at the age of 13. Encouraged by the recordings of Carson Robison and Jimmie Rodgers, he later formed the BC Rangers. Throughout the 30s, his singing and yodelling on CJOR Vancouver and his appearances, with his horse Silver, at countless venues for his show’s sponsors Dad’s Cookies, gained him a considerable reputation throughout the Province. In 1938, his sponsors opened a branch in Australia and, finding himself unable to secure a recording contract in Canada at that time, Blinkhorn took up their suggestion to try his luck in Australia, where the competition was less fierce. He was soon performing regularly on both Australian radio and at personal appearances. Using only his own guitar for accompaniment, he made his first six recordings for Regal Zonophone Records on 27 October 1939 and a second six in July 1940. When World War II interrupted his career, he saw military service in New Guinea and the Philippines, where his ability to speak Japanese saw him employed as an interpreter. In 1947, this time with a backing group, he made further recordings, including his noted version of ‘Sunny Queensland’. He continued to perform for a few years, before seemingly losing interest. After marrying, he settled in Sydney, later working for the University of New South Wales. During the early 50s, he made his final recordings for Fidelity, including several square dance records, whereon he demonstrated his talent as a caller, no doubt learned as a boy in his native Canada. Arterial disease, in 1974, led to him losing a leg, but he recovered and was soon back to his normal happy self.