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Bonnie Prince Billy on Wikipedia
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Bonnie prince billy.jpgWill Oldham, June 6, 2009
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Oldham
Also known asPalace Brothers
Palace Music
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Born(1970-12-24) December 24, 1970 (age 46)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
OriginLouisville, Kentucky, U.S.
  • Folk
  • alternative country
  • country
  • freak folk[1]
Years active1993–present
LabelsDrag City, Domino, Spunk
Associated actsDawn McCarthy, The Cairo Gang, Matt Sweeney, Mick Turner, Tortoise, Trembling Bells, Harem Scarem, The Picket Line, Alex Neilson, Björk

Will Oldham (born December 24, 1970), better known by the stage name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, is an American singer-songwriter and actor. From 1993 to 1997, he performed and recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. After releasing material under his own name, he adopted the "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" moniker for the majority of his output since 1998.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Music
    • 2.1 Discography
      • 2.1.1 Studio albums
    • 2.2 Response
  • 3 Film
    • 3.1 Filmography
  • 4 Photography
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Oldham was born on December 24, 1970, in Louisville, Kentucky.[2] He lived in Louisville until he graduated from the J. Graham Brown School in 1988, then briefly attended Brown University amidst his career in music and film.[3] He is married to the artist Elsa Hansen [4][5]


Oldham is known for his "do-it-yourself punk aesthetic and blunt honesty,"[6] and his music has been likened to Americana, folk, roots, country, punk, and indie rock. He has been called an "Appalachian post-punk solipsist",[6] with a voice that has been described as "a fragile sort-of warble frittering around haunted melodies in the American folk or country tradition."[6]

Oldham first performed and recorded under various permutations of the Palace name, including Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, Palace Music, and simply Palace. Regarding the name changes during this period (1993–1997), Oldham said:

Beginning in 1998, Oldham has primarily used the moniker Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, which draws inspiration from several sources:

He has explained that "the primary purpose of the pseudonym is to allow both the audience and the performer to have a relationship with the performer that is valid and unbreakable."[8]


Main article: Will Oldham discography

Studio albums

  • There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You – Palace Brothers (1993)[9]
  • Days in the Wake – Palace Brothers (1994)
  • Viva Last Blues – Palace Music (1995)
  • Arise Therefore – Palace Music (1996)
  • Joya – Will Oldham (1997)
  • I See a Darkness – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (1999)
  • Ease Down the Road – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2001)
  • Master and Everyone – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2003)
  • Sings Greatest Palace Music – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2004)
  • Superwolf – Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2005)
  • The Brave and the Bold – Tortoise & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2006)
  • The Letting Go – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2006)
  • Lie Down in the Light – Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2008)
  • Beware - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2009)
  • The Wonder Show of the World - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and the Cairo Gang (2010)
  • Wolfroy Goes to Town - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2011)
  • Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2013)
  • Singer's Grave - A Sea of Tongues - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2014)
  • Tip The Glass And Feel The Bottom - Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang (2015 - Future Oak Records)
  • Pond Scum - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2016)
  • Best Troubador - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2017)


Some of his albums, such as There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You (1993),[10] Viva Last Blues (1995),[11] and I See a Darkness (1999),[12][13][14] have appeared on greatest albums lists.

Johnny Cash recorded a version of "I See a Darkness" on his American Recordings disc, American III: Solitary Man (2000). Oldham provided backing vocals. Marianne Faithfull included Oldham's A King at Night on her 2003 Kissin Time tour. Steve Adey also covered "I See a Darkness" on his 2006 LP All Things Real. Mark Kozelek recorded a version of Oldham's "New Partner" on his 2008 disc, The Finally LP. Katatonia covered "Oh How I Enjoy the Light" on their 2001 EP Tonight's Music. In 2009 Mark Lanegan and Soulsavers recorded a cover version of "You Will Miss Me When I Burn". The release is a split single, backed with the Lanegan penned "Sunrise" featuring vocals by Oldham. In 2011, Deer Tick's cover of Oldham's song "Death to Everyone" appeared in an episode of Hell On Wheels. Cadaverous Condition covered "Black" on their To The Night Sky album (2006).


Oldham began his acting career at age 17, when he portrayed a teen preacher in John Sayles's film about an Appalachian mining community, Matewan (1987). Oldham moved to Hollywood to pursue acting in the late 1980s,[15] and landed roles in a couple of films. However, he quickly became disillusioned with the film industry and quit in 1989.[16] He has since had several minor roles in independent films, such as Julien Donkey-Boy (1999), Junebug (2005), and The Guatemalan Handshake (2006). Oldham took a lead role in Old Joy, which was featured at SXSW XX and opened at New York's Film Forum on September 20, 2006. During this time, he also played the role of a preacher in the "Horse Apples" special of WonderShowzen in series 2 of the show. In 2007, Oldham starred alongside Zach Galifianakis in the alternate music video for Kanye West's Can't Tell Me Nothing.[17] In 2009, he was the narrator of "Madam and Little Boy", a documentary film about atomic weapons directed by Swedish artist Magnus Bärtås. In 2010, Oldham had a small part in Jackass 3D as a gorilla trainer. he revealed that he had to write a theme song in the style of a Saturday morning cartoon show for filmmaker Lance Bangs' life to get the role.[18]


  • Matewan (1987), directed by John Sayles
  • Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1989) (TV movie)
  • Thousand Pieces of Gold (1991)
  • Elysian Fields (1993)
  • Radiation (1998)
  • Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) (uncredited role), directed by Harmony Korine
  • Slitch (2003), directed by Dianne Bellino
  • Tripping with Caveh (2004), directed by Caveh Zahedi
  • Junebug (2005)
  • The Guatemalan Handshake (2006)
  • Old Joy (2006)
  • Trapped in the Closet- Chapter 15 (2007)
  • Wendy and Lucy (2008)
  • Madam and Little Boy (2009)
  • Jackass 3D (2010)
  • Pioneer (2011)
  • New Jerusalem (2011)
  • Magnetic Reconnection (2012) voice
  • Edén (2014)
  • A Ghost Story (2017)


Oldham shot the black-and-white cover photograph of Slint's 1991 album Spiderland, showing the band members treading water in the lake of an abandoned quarry.[19]

Oldham also featured as guest aesthetic designer for the North American literary magazine Zoetrope All Story (vol 11, no 1) in 2007. In a note contained in the issue, he jokes that it would be "really magnificent to imagine this issue as a cocktail party at which all of the contributors, word and image, are present. add a bowl of keys and some mushroom cookies and i am there."[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Björk: Björk - The music from Drawing Restraint 9". Paste (magazine). Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (May 27, 2011). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ Derek Walmsley (March 14, 2013). "Exclusive Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Interview". The Wire. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Baldwin, C. (March 28, 2002). "The Wanderer". Chico News & Review. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b Ashare, Matt (January 20, 2003). "Mystery Man: Palace Brother Will Oldham becomes Bonnie 'Prince' Billy". The Phoenix. Retrieved May 9, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" (PDF). Foggy Notion. April 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 10, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  9. ^ Knott, Alex. (April 30, 2012) Bonnie 'Prince' Billy announced new EP, book + reissue of 6 LP's | Music News. Frost Magazine. Retrieved on 2012-05-04.
  10. ^ Irvin, Jim; Colin McLear (2003). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (3rd ed.). Canongate. p. 585. ISBN 1-84195-438-1. 
  11. ^ LeMay, Matt (November 17, 2003). "The Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  12. ^ Irvin, Jim; Colin McLear (2003). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (3rd ed.). Canongate. p. 651. ISBN 1-84195-438-1. 
  13. ^ Bowers, William (November 17, 2003). "The Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  14. ^ Dimery, Robert (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe. p. 854. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5. 
  15. ^ Roberts, Randall (June 3, 2009). "Will Oldham's Trouble with Hollywood". Dallas Observer. Retrieved January 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ Byck, Peter (February 4, 2006). "Oldham journeys back into acting". Scene. p. 5. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  17. ^ The Kanye West/Will Oldham/Zach Galifianakis Collabo You Never Saw Coming. Wired (magazine), July 25, 2007. Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  18. ^ Will Oldham Discusses Jackass 3D, Working on 'Blueprints' for New Album. (March 9, 2011). Retrieved on 2012-05-04.
  19. ^ McCarthy, Shannon. "Slint Lyrics and Biography" Retrieved on November 25, 2007.

External links

  • Bonnie 'Prince' Billy official website
  • Will Oldham discography at Discogs (includes links to alias profiles/discographies)
  • Will Oldham at Drag City (record label)
  • Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at Domino Records (record label)
  • Will Oldham at AllMusic
  • Will Oldham at the Internet Movie Database
  • "I don't care, let's have some tea: A conversation with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" by Colin Cheney, 2004
  • "The Pretender: Will Oldham transfigures American music" by Kelefa Sanneh in The New Yorker, 2009
  • Interview with Oldham at Music Illuminati, 2010

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