****** "Summertime" is één van de meest geliefde Popcorn oldies, word nog steeds gedraaid en met veel overtuiging op gedanst. -- Billy Stewart
Singer and pianist Billy Stewart was born on March 24, 1937 in Washington, D.C. Known for his distinctive, soulful style, he started singing at an early age with his family’s Stewart Gospel singers. He sang with the Rainbows, a group that also included Don Covay and Marvin Gaye. Bo Diddley “discovered” Stewart and recruited him to play piano in his band. Chess Records released the “Fat Boy’s” solo debut, “Billy’s Blues,” in 1956.
OKeh Records released “Billy’s Heartaches” in 1957. That song, as well as “Baby, You are my Only Love,” was recorded with the local Marquees, which featured a very young Marvin Gaye. Stewart returned to Chess in the early 1960s, where he recorded his first hit, “Reap What You Sow,” which reached #18 on the R&B charts.
In 1965, his “I Do Love You” and “Sitting in the Park” hit both the R&B and Pop charts. Stewart had a Top 10 hit in 1966 with his radical interpretation, incorporating scat vocals, of Gershwin and Heyward’s “Summertime,” recorded at Chess with session musicians Pete Cosey on guitar, Louis Satterfield on bass, Sonny Thompson on piano and Maurice White on drums. The recording was Stewart’s first crossover Top Ten hit on both the Pop and R&B charts. In January, 1970, while on tour, Stewart and three of his band members were killed when his car plunged into a river in North Carolina.