Billy specialised in combining the uncombinable: punk and folk, sarcasm and warmth, politics and love. Billy's lyrics are sometimes cutting and angry, sometimes warm, but always insightful and witty. His songs paint a picture of Britain in the 1980s and capture the disillusionment that many felt at the time.
He was born in Barking, London as Stephen William Bragg and started playing guitar in his teens with his next-door neighbour Wiggy. The two of them formed a punk band called Riff Raff, but success was not forthcoming.
Surprisingly, Billy then joined the army. Unsurprisingly he hated it and bought his way out with £175 and returned to his parents' home.
Billy devised ingenious strategies to get his demo tapes heard. He pretended to be a television repair man in order to get into the office of Peter Jenner at Charisma Records. When Billy heard our own John Peel announce he was hungry on air, he rushed to the BBC studios with a mushroom biriyani and a tape. He was rewarded with lots of airplapay you to do this, get a bloody taxi', which I thought was too good to be true; they PAY you to do a Peel session!"