Born in the lower west side of Manhattan, Talbot started his first vocal group at age 14. The Cavaliers sang on street corners and in the hallways of train stations. He moved to West New York, New Jersey at age 15 and formed another group, The Impalas. By age 17, he had moved to Los Angeles and in late ’62, he met Danny Whitten at the Sunset Strip club Peppermint West. They began singing doo wop as Danny and the Memories, with Benjamin Rocco and Lou Bisbal in the line-up, and sometimes Pat and Lolly Vegas, who would later become Redbone. Lou left the group, and brought his cousin Ralph Molina out from Florida as his replacement—the core of what would become the original Crazy Horse was in place.
Talbot and company started playing instruments, headed to San Francisco, and morphed into The Psyrcle. After returning to L.A., the outfit evolved into The Rockets. They emerged as a top band around town and made one album for White Whale Records. In 1967, they connected with Neil Young, then in Buffalo Springfield, and started to jam with him. Young sat in on a couple of The Rockets’ gigs at The Whisky, and soon after, he invited Talbot, Whitten and Molina to be his backing band—under the new name Crazy Horse.
Not long after Danny Whitten’s passing in 1971, Talbot met Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, and Sampedro subsequently joined Crazy Horse in 1974. Talbot, Molina and Sampedro have been central to every incarnation of the group since, both on its own, and backing up Young—with the latter, on many epic tours and almost two dozen albums.
Talbot began performing solo in 1999 at small venues, supported by fans of Crazy Horse. In October 2004, Talbot launched his solo career with the Billy Talbot Band, releasing the album Alive in the Spirit World on Sanctuary Records, recorded in a barn on a ranch in Mendocino County over the course of a week. With the addition of newcomer Ryan James Holzer on trombone, harmonica, autoharp, organ, and acoustic guitar, the same versatile band of musicians joins Talbot for their sophomore album, On The Road To Spearfish. They include guitarist Matt Piucci (formerly of Rain Parade and Moving Sidewalks), Erik Pearson (horns, banjo, lap steel), Mark Hanley (lap steel, mandolin, guitar), Tommy Carns (bass), and Stephan Junca on drums. Using vintage gear and an eclectic orchestra of acoustic and electric instruments, the new album was recorded at Light Rail Studios in a repurposed warehouse in the Potrero Hill district of San Francisco. The filmed chronicling of the sessions was released simultaneously with the album in May 2013.
After collaborating with the ever-talented Ryan James Holzer on Billy Talbot Band’s sophomore album, Talbot called on long-time band mate, Ralph Molina, and former band member from The Rockets, George Whitsell, to join them at Light Rail Studios in San Francisco. In one day, the quartet came together and recorded twelve tracks that they began referring to as “Wolves.” Six months later, they joined forces again to record an additional six tracks, and subsequently four tracks were produced six months later. The energy and event of each of these three meetings produced their forthcoming rock album, Wolves EP, with Talbot on bass and harmonies, Holzer on guitar and lead vocals, Molina on drums and harmonies, and Whitsell on guitar and harmonies. The album artwork, courtesy of Jeff Chase, is indicative of the music and perfectly captures the energies generated by these four stellar musicians. Following the most recent recordings, Talbot gave Holzer the ’66 Gibson ES-335 he’d lent him during their sessions, a special instrument in guitar history. The debut album is set for release February 2014.