BILLY SATELLITE — BILLY SATELLITE (1984)
Billy Satellite formed in Oakland in 1983. The members were Danny Chauncey (lead guitar, keyboards and vocals), Ira Walker (bass and vocals), Monty Byrom (lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards), and Tom Falletti (drums). Of the members, Chauncey had the most recording experience, having previously performed in Mistress, a band which had released two albums and a single, “Mistrusted Love” in 1979.
In 1984 Billy Satellite released their only record, Billy Satellite. It was mixed and engineered by Greg Edward and Don Gehman at Rumbo Recorders and Gehman also produced. It’s pretty typical hard rock of the era, equally at home in county fairs and roller rinks. “Standing With the Kings” would’ve been not at all out of place during a montage showing someone training, overcoming obstacles, and ultimately triumphing in an ’80s sports drama.
There’s quite a bit of ’80s gender confusion. The “ladies” addressed in the songs are never told what the protaganist is going to do to them; rather he begs them to treat him like a sex object. The opening line of first song, “Satisfy Me,” sets the tone, “Baby, when you gonna satisfy me?” In case the woman needs inspiration, the lyrics of “Rockin’ Down the Highway” offer a titillating possibility, “Back seat limousine, moving kind of slow. I know you want to love me, I know that’s your thrill. So meet me at the hotel ‘cause you pay the bill.” Bryom might seem comfortable being objectified and discarded once he’s fulfilled his purpose but in “Do Ya” he he reveals that he has feelings too. “Do ya still think I’m ever comin’ back to ya? …I dream about you, I touch you inside. Now I don’t know if I should laugh or cry — I cry! I never wanna cry!”
Photo of the band courtesy their MySpace page
The lyrics might suggest hair metal but it’s not — although I imagine that Falletti wasn’t opposed to the occasional twirl of the drumsticks. Billy Satellite were pomp rock in Billy Squier, Foreigner, Glenn Frey,Huey Lewis And The News, Kenny Loggins, Russ Ballard, and Survivor. You can imagine the musical bombast filling an arena but the only single, “I Wanna Go Back” only reached No. 78 and it’s commercial disappointment apparently sent Billy Satellite out of orbit with the members fragmenting as they re-entered the Earth‘s atmosphere.
Chauncey went on to play guitar and sing backing vocals in 38 Special, which by the ’80s was making music similar arena rock. Byrom went on to play in the bands New Frontier and Big House. In 1990, Walker produced the debut of Biscuit, who had a minor hit with “Biscuit’s in the House.” Based on the New Jack Swing artist’s nom de disque, the genius AI behind advertising algorithms first treated me to an advertisement for some fast food chain’s unappetizing breakfast items.
Two years after the rise and fall of Billy Satellite, Eddie Money covered their sole single and was rewared with a No. 14 hit. Much more recently, the three non-Chauncey members have reunited as Zen Road Pilots, a band which plays primarily in the Bakersfield area.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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