Omaha native Billy Usher sang with a number of bands during the 1940s, including Jack Teagarden in mid-1941, George “Pee Wee” Erwin in early 1942, and Shep Fields in early 1943. After spending time as a solo artist, he joined Sonny Dunham’s band in early 1944 but was solo again by the middle of the year. While with Dunham, he met singer Pat Cameron, and the two married later that year.
Upon leaving Dunham, Usher opened as a single in Albany, New York, and suffered an embarrassment after confiding to a couple of new acquaintances there that his draft papers had been stolen or lost shortly before he left the band. His new friends turned out to be government men, and Usher was taken to the local jail, where he spent the night. He straightened out the matter with the draft board the next day.
Usher briefly worked for Harry James in November 1944, taking the place of Buddy DeVito, who had received his draft notice. When DeVito was rejected by the draft board, he returned to James, and Usher was let go.
In February 1945, Usher joined Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra as one of two male vocalists competing for a permanent spot in the band. The other was Frankie Lester. Dorsey was having trouble finding reliable boy singers at that time, and he put both men in front of the mike. Usher was gone in late February, signing with the NBC Blue Network to replace Tommy Taylor in the program On the Sunny Side of the Street in March.
After leaving Dorsey, Usher also appeared as an uncredited talent show winner in the Universal Pictures musical On Stage Everybody. Publicity for the film touted him as one of ten winners of a nationwide contest, though in reality all were established show business talents. Each winner was shown in publicity photos receiving a movie contract.
In June 1945, before On Stage Everybody had reached the theaters, Usher joined Randy Brooks’ orchestra, appearing in the band’s self-titled musical short for Columbia and singing on the band’s first recording sessions with Decca. Usher remained with Brooks through early 1946, where his wife, Cameron, joined him in January. Both had left the band by March of that year. In July, he and Cameron joined Pee Wee Erwin’s new band.
In May 1947, Usher was noted as an ex-Gene Krupa vocalist, though it’s unknown when exactly he may have sang with Krupa’s band. That month, he joined Charlie Barnet. By October, though, he was rehearsing with a new band formed by tenor saxophonist Emmett Carls.
In early 1949, Usher appeared on his own five-day-a-week, 15-minute radio program on WINS as well as a three-day-a-week, half-hour program on WOR, both New York stations.
Billy Usher passed away at the age of 75.