Bill Zorn

b. May 18, 1948 / Bridgeport, CT

Singer / Actor / Comedian / Producer

Former New Kingston Trio member Bill Zorn with the Limeliters today.
Bill Zorn with Limeliters 
Alex Hassilev and Rick Dougherty
The newest member of The Limeliters, Bill Zorn is an accomplished musician on the banjo and guitar. He has a tremendous voice range - bass to second tenor.

Bill was born in May, 1948. In 1970, after studying music and drama at Arizona State University, Bill earned a place with The New Christy Minstrels where he performed, directed and toured from Viet Nam to the White House (twice) for four years. A contact of Bill's from hosting a TV talk show was a then unknown singer, Kenny Rogers. Rogers told Bill there was an opening upcoming in the New Christy Minstrels. Bill informs us, "I replaced a guy named Byron Walls, who wrote one of Glen Yarbrough's signature songs, "Grandma's Letter." This was maybe the fourth generation of the group by that time, and I stayed with them for four years as their musical director. My brother was also in the group, and it was a great experience for us."

Then he became a banjo-playing full member of The Kingston Trio for three years. Bill says, "It was three years of full throttled, non-stop fun - like a Mardi Gras that never ends. But it was also lots and lots of travel and after a time I had to admit to myself that I just couldn't keep up with the pace. Remember, I had just come off of four years of the same with the Christy's. Every fiber of me was exhausted. I finally had to say to myself it's stay in the group and die, so I decided to take up my brother on his offer come have a good rest at this place in England."

Bill's move to England in 1977 didn't stop him from performing, and while there he recorded a hit single with his brother called "Car '67." He has also had his share of television acting, voice-over work, and comedy, gained by teaming up with British comedian Jon Benns to form the successful duo "Bill and Benns" in England. In 1995, while still in England, Bill produced a Glenn Yarbrough album called Chantyman.

Bill also performs with another band, The Arizona Smoke Revue, that plays off and on. Bill says, "It's made up of a number of solo artists who get together for some of the big summertime festivals and sing together. We all play in other bands, so we bring a very diverse mix of music to the table." The Arizona Smoke Revue can be heard on a double CD album, A Thundering on the Horizon, recorded in the early 1980s by the group. It's a staggering mixture of folk, bluegrass, rock, jazz, and just about everything else in between. It's available for $15 mail-order from Bill Zorn, 3206 W. Montebello Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85017.

Bill Zorn brings two crucial elements to The Limeliters: he possesses that obligatory Limeliter sense of comedy, and his voice unmistakably contributes to retaining that magical trademark Limeliters sound!

SOURCE: Tribute to the Limeliters: 

Bill Zorn with ARIZONA SMOKE REVUE circa 1982Arizona Smoke Revue

Formed in the spring of 1980 by Bill Zorn (b. 18 May 1948, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA; banjo, vocals), Phil Beer (b. 12 May 1953, Teignmouth, Devon, England; guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals), Paul Downes (b. 2 August 1953, Exeter, Devon, England; guitar, mando-cello, vocals) and John Vickers, though Vickers left by the end of the year. The group added Pete Zorn (b. 29 May 1950, Somerset, Pennsylvania, USA; saxophone, flute, guitar, bass, vocals, percussion) and Steve Knightley (b. 30 April 1954, Southampton, England; guitar, vocals) in his place. Ever since then the same five musicians have been involved with the group. 

Bill Zorn had previously been a US television chat show host, a member of the New Christy Minstrels and part of the re-formed Kingston Trio. With his brother Pete he had also had a single, "Car 67", reach number 7 in the UK charts in 1978. In 1982 Steve Cricket (drums) was added to the Arizona line-up, and still plays when required. 

Their recordings include a guest list that reads like a folk music who's who, with names including Richard Thompson and Dave Mattacks. All the members are involved with other groups and projects, meaning that the Arizonas can never be regarded as a truly permanent set-up. As well as the Arizona Smoke Revue, Downes had earlier worked with Beer as Downes and Beer. Phil Beer himself has recorded with artists such as the Rolling Stones, Mike Oldfield and Johnny Coppin. Bill Zorn has also worked, since 1985, with Jon Benns (b. Cornwall, England) as the comedy duo Bill And Benns. Benns had earlier toured with Camel and Barclay James Harvest. Pete Zorn has recorded and worked with names such as Barbara Dickson, Elaine Paige and Gerry Rafferty, among others. Latterly, Knightley formed Show Of Hands with Beer, as well as writing music for the theatre. Despite these disparate projects, the central Arizona Smoke Revue unit remain highly regarded on the circuit, their mixture of folk, bluegrass and rock proving perennially popular, and they still undertake extensive tours. Owing to the limitations of some venues, however, they have appeared as anything from a three, four or five-piece group.

Bill Zorn And The Arizona Smoke Revue (Avada 1980)
Thundering On The Horizon (Rola 1981)
The Arizona Smoke Revue-New Album (1982)***.

The Arizona Smoke Revue - Double Album (Sunrise Music 1991).

Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2002

Zorn Image SOURCE: 
"Thundering On The Horizon" Image SOURCE: 

Songs credited to
Bill Zorn
Song Title
1. Reuben's Train


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Last revised: February 23, 2006.