Billy Adams

Rockabilly Legend Billy Adams Dead At 79

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WESTMORELAND, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Rock pioneer and Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Billy Adams died on March 30th at a care facility in Westmoreland, TN. He was 79.

Adams’ passing was announced by his publicist Cliff Doyal, but a cause of death was not provided.

During his musical career, Adams is best known as the artist who wrote and recorded the seminal Rockabilly hit, “Rock, Pretty Mama,” which he released via the independent label Quincy Records in 1957.

His other hits include “You Heard Me Knocking” and “True Love Will Come Your Way,” released on Dot Records, and “You Gotta Have A Duck Tail,” “Walking Star,” “Return of the All American Boy,” “That’s My Baby,” “Blue Eyed Ella” and “The Fun House” for indie label, Nau-Voo Records.

Born Willie Murray Adams in Redbush, KY in 1940, Adams was one of 13 children of a coal miner, but turned to music at an early age instead of following in his father’s footsteps.

In an interview with Public Radio International, Adams described learning to play on makeshift instruments while listening to artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, and Bill Monroe

His first time performing on the radio came in 1952 at WCMI in Ashland, KY. and in 1954, he launched his own band The Rock & Roll Boys which were soon rebranded as The Rock-A-Teers.

On July 9, 1961, Billy married Freda Louise Riffe, with which he produced three daughters. Four years later, he found religion and focused on gospel and country music, including penning the hit “I Saw The Man” for the Happy Goodman Family.

Billy also became a Kentucky Colonel during this time and later an ordained Bishop.


Adams lost his wife, Freda, to cancer in 2007, and he married Sue Justice in 2010.

Adams was preceded in death by his parents Charlie and Sarah Adams, daughter Teresa Williams, brother Charles and Wayne Adams and sisters Darcus Massie, Dixie Cooper, Opal Stanford, Dorothy Holbrook, Lillian Harris, Susie Traylor, and Carolyn Jones.

He is survived by his wife Sue Adams of Portland, TN, daughter Tina Adams of Spring Hill, TN, daughter Janetta and son-in-law, Kelly Blevins of Argillite, KY, granddaughter, Hannah Kellene Grace Blevins, sisters Stella Jones and Sue Jenkins of Greenup, KY and Diana Clark of Flatwoods, KY.

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