Arizona country singer Billy Wyatt has two good reasons for touring Australia.

He wed his mandolin and piano singing spouse Kathie here and he escapes ghosts of Apache Junction who joined him on stage at the Superstition Skies Restaurant.

Wyatt was born into a God fearing gospel singing family from the Carolinas in the heart of Washington State at Cedro Woolley in the summer of 1950.

"All my mother's family were staunch southern Baptists and reformed moonshiners and drug runners," Wyatt told Nu Country TV on return for his To Australia tour.

"I grew up in a little settlement in Birdsview near Spokane about 200 miles east of the Idaho border.

Young Billy sang around the campfire with kinfolk and developed a passion for stone country that took him to Bakersfield and Nashville.

The singer threw a healthy hybrid of the west coast country pioneered by Buck Owens and mentor Merle Haggard and Music City hurting songs into a bucolic blender.

Now, at the tender age of 55, guitar slinger Wyatt, not to be Googled by mistake for 1880s gunfighter Wyatt Earp, is on the run in Australia for his first national tour.

Wyatt has moseyed on down under a time or two for sporadic gigs including 2004 Nu Country TV Christmas party but this is To-Australia tour to celebrate a song he wrote in Tamworth early this year.

It was one of several songs that Billy has penned for Kathie who operates the family trucking company in a town made famous by singing actor Billy Bob Thornton in the Bad Santa movie.

Apache Junction has, well had a western town movie set, until a mystery fire like the one that razed Nu Country FM Beer Can Hill studio on June 26, 2000.

"The Apache Junction Movie Ranch burned to the ground for the third time just eight months ago," Wyatt revealed.

"I was instrumental in rebuilding it a couple of times. We rebuilt it especially for Kenny Rogers Gambler 2, parts of Back To The Future and other movies and TV series."
So was the fire the work of arsonists of the ghosts lurking in the badlands?


"No, bad wiring," Wyatt quipped, "a dear friend of mine had brought a racoon from Indiana. It chewed up the wiring. It was kept in a cage but was let loose on the roof of the saloon and got to chewing on the wire."

Thornton and buddies had long decamped the ranch that was built in the shadows of the majestic Superstition Mountains that featured in many movies as a backdrop.

Despite that, Apache Junction just down the road apiece from Phoenix, has doubled its population to 30,000.

And it's not all because Billy moved there in 1980 before meeting Miss Kathie in Avondale, Arizona.
"I was playing in a place called J R's Round-Up," Wyatt revealed with refreshing candour.

"Back in those days I was pretty whorish. I had a lot to do with women whom I didn't respect and didn't respect me. I was drinking a lot of whiskey and doing a lot of crazy things. Then in walks this blonde haired beauty I couldn't take my eyes off. It was Valentines Day 1986."

But the couple didn't sprint to the altar for another three years.


"In 1989 we came to Australia on vacation to visit Murray Willis - an Adelaide opal miner who had holdings in Cooper Pedy," Wyatt recalled.

"I met Harvey Dickson who has a rodeo ring and country music centre where he has shows at Boyup Brook in Western Australia. We met up his house and just as a whim said maybe we should be getting married. I was told 'no, you can't do that. It takes 31 days for an Australian to get a marriage licence. By the grace of God and a gal named Erica we got a marriage licence next day and got married in Baptist Church in Boyup Brook. The reception was at the country music centre. This serendipity helped keep it together. We couldn't hold love together if didn't have this magic in Australia."

That love inspired the Wyatt songs I Had Enough Of You and Working Man's Girl and To Australia.

He recorded and turned six songs into video clips at the Superstition Skies Restaurant in Apache Junction late one night.

Luckily the infamous ghost of a gold and silver miner had the night off.


Felicity & Billy Wyatt
"There have been reports of an Indian ghost with a lot of history," Wyatt confided.

"There seems to be at least one apparition. It won't be unseen. One night when I was playing I was almost shoved through my mike. But there was no-one there. The kids in band thought I was falling over. It dates back to the death of a silver or gold miner. I've felt the ghost."

Wyatt can't say if it was a visage of wife Kathie that prevented the ghost re-appearing during the sessions.

"I'm so proud of her I could bust," Wyatt says of his partner of almost 20 years.

"She plays piano and mandolin in my band and sings harmony on all my recordings and on a lot of local gigs. I Had Enough Of You was written tongue in cheeks but she was the real deal for Working Man's Girl. She's the solo act in running the trucking company. She cracks the whip and runs three trucks hauling lots of dirt and decorative stone. I wrote To Australia when I was missing her pretty drastically. I started writing this song with a borrowed guitar. I have another bouncing around in my head. I can't say enough about her."'


But the singer, who also penned Ol Waylon about the legendary outlaw superstar who died of diabetes at 64 in Scottsdale, Arizona, on February 13, 2002.

"We did emulate his ways," Wyatt recalled.

"We also cut our teeth in Bakersfield in the late seventies. On occasion Merle and his brother came into town. I spent 18 months there and did voiceovers at Buck Owens studio.

I was recording songs by Wayne Stafford from his North Carolina days with the Evergreen Drifters. We cut his songs Trouble's My Middle Name and Washington I Hear You're Calling Me.

Wyatt also recorded in Nashville.

"We got airplay and recognition with Another Cotton Field," Wyatt said of a song that was cut at Owens Bakersfield studio.

"It did pretty well and kept us in work but we did no more recording till mid eighties in Phoenix. We recorded songs in Nashville that became the When A Cowboy Dreams At Night CD in 1998."

But Wyatt has since recorded What I'm Doin' in 2004 at Lamont Studio in Gilbert, Arizona.

The album features four of his originals and covers of artists diverse as Haggard, Moe Bandy and Jim McBride.


Wyatt and Delfos Country, fronted by Dead Livers multi-instrumentalist Rodger Delfos and Monique Brumby guitarist Don Farrell, debut at Country Music Guild, Pascoe Vale on Thursday November 4.

Other gigs include St Kilda Sports Club - Fitzroy St - November 25, Croatian Club Geelong - November 26, Bass Hotel - November 27 and Southern Star Saloon, Braybrook - on December 3.

Wyatt and Delfos Country, Six Foot Under and other special guests perform at the Nu Country TV Christmas party at Hotel Kew - 99 High St, Kew Junction from 1 p m on Sunday December 4.

Delfos Country, Suzie Dickinson, Louie& The Flies and Barnlaid played with Wyatt at the 2004 Nu Country TV Christmas Party at the Bush Inn, West Toorak.

More dates added later.
Click Here for Nu Country Gig Guide.

Full dates and further info from Sheridan Entertainment Promotions

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