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“Billy Edd is a talented country boy who’ll
never lose the common touch."
--Chet Atkins, CGP

Biography & Discography

Born and raised in Boone County, West Virginia, Billy Edd Wheeler graduated from Warren Wilson Junior College, Swannanoa, North Carolina, in 1953, and Berea College at Berea, Kentucky, in 1955. After service as a student pilot in the Navy, he did graduate studies at Yale's School of Drama under John Gassner, majoring in playwriting. He has lived in Swannanoa since 1963, except for a stint managing United Artists Music Group in Nashville – 1968-70. UA bought his songwriting contract from legendary songwriter-publishers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, then located in New York City.

Wheeler has received 13 awards from ASCAP for songs recorded by Judy Collins, Bobby Darin, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Kenny Rogers, Elvis, and 90-some other artists, selling over 57 million units.

The songs include Jackson, Blistered, The Rev. Mr. Black, Desert Pete, Anne, High Flying Bird, The Coming of the Roads, It 's Midnight, Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back, Coal Tattoo, and Coward of the County, that was made into a movie.

Wheeler is author of a dozen plays, including four outdoor dramas, that include the long-running Hatfields & McCoys at Beckley, West Virginia, and Young Abe Lincoln at Lincoln City, Indiana. His newest one, Johnny Appleseed, premiered at Mansfield, Ohio in 2004. He has authored or co-authored several books of humor including Laughter In Appalachia, now in its 13th printing. His most recent one, Real Country Humor--Jokes From Country Music Personalities, was published in the spring of 2002 by August House.

Billy Edd is still writing songs, but now that he's on the back nine of life--to put it in golfing terms--he is no longer seeking playwriting opportunities or commissions. This gives him more time to paint, work on a book of memoirs, and perform occasionally with Nashville buds and The Elvi--Rich Bellando, Billy Edd and Doug Orr, recently retired president of Warren Wilson College (see photo at left). They imitate the Elvis impersonators just for fun. In the tom foolery category, they wear jumpsuits, wigs and large glasses, wiggling around without showing any signs of embarrassment. (Thanks to the dark glasses.) As senior citizens--at least Billy Edd is--they risk broken limbs, heart attacks, and total humiliation. But their motto is: "What a way to go. Long live The Elvi!"

Recently inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Association of Songwriters International's Hall of Fame, he is the recipient of Distinguished Alumnus awards from Warren Wilson College and Berea College. Other awards include "Best Appalachian Poetry" from Morris Harvey College, and Billboard Magazine's "Pacesetter Award for Music and Drama." In 2004, Berea College conferred on Billy Edd the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Married to the former Mary Mitchell Bannerman, the Wheelers have two children, Lucy and Travis, and continue to live in Swannanoa.

Click here for an abbreviated discography.

2002-13 Billy Edd Wheeler. Web Site Design by Bob Boeberitz Design, and Black Mountain Digital Media and Cat Wong.