revised 7/14/2005

William Troester

known by his friends as

T. Billy

Rob Wray writes (July 2001):

I first met T. Billy at the One Way bar in Los Angeles one Friday night in April 1981. I was just out of the Army and Billy was there with his good friend Jim Bucalo. It was my first time there and Billy was funny and friendly and we became good friends almost immediately.

Billy helped initiate me into the L.A. club scene of the time: The Brave Dog, Al's Bar, Club Lingerie, the Zero One, and (later) the Anti-Club and Theoretical. This was a new world for me -- part straight, part gay, with lots of sexual energy and plenty of new music, good and bad. Billy loved all of it and you could usually find him up front boppinā to the beat, Bud in hand. Never cynical or superior; Billy found something to like in just about every band and everybody.

Billy worked as a computer programmer at a major bank and he took his job seriously. Unlike so many of us back then, he was responsible and frugal, and I remember the little yellow Japanese-American hatchback he drove and his tidy little house near the intersection of Myra and Hoover Streets in East Hollywood. Terry Dorn was a neighbor and Billy would frequently have me, Jimmy, and Terry in for a few beers and a few tokes before we headed out to the clubs on weekend nights.

One of the reasons Billy was so frugal was the support he provided to his two children living in Minnesota with his ex-wife. He loved both his kids and spoke of them often.

Billy was upfront about his sexuality, which was primarily gay, but he still dated girls from time to time, and he got plenty of attention from both sexes. Part of this was his style— that cool hair, those great sportcoats! But he was really interesting because he was interested in other people. He had a droll, ever-ready wit, a boyish lopsided smile, and a perpetual twinkle in his eyes.

Billy knew just about everyone there was to know in those days, knew all the door people and a lot of the bands. When he was living in New York Joey Ramone used to sleep on his couch. He went to every party that my boyfriend Tomata and I threw, and one time he helped us host a party at our loft above Swenson's Ice Cream Parlor on Hollywood Boulevard. Two hundred people showed up and the place got so hot that one guy took two girls into the bathroom for a cold shower. The living room floor was packed, and Craig Lee kicked a hole in the wall while slamdancing. I remember a lot of special times with Billy, like going to the "Us Festival" and seeing David Bowie, and going to the Sports Arena and the Coliseum to see Bruce Springsteen.

I remember Sunday brunches at Curt Hancock's house in Eagle Rock. For me, no event was really complete unless Billy was there.

Curt and Billy had been lovers for a time but it didn't work out. Billy liked Curt but he liked his freedom more. He disparaged the conventions of romantic love. He once stopped listening to rock music and switched to classical because he said was "tired of all the love songs" (of course he was back to rockabilly and new wave a few weeks later).

Despite this, Billy loved people as much as any man I've known, and he knew the meaning of friendship. I remember times when I would pour my heart out to Billy. He would listen and give me sound advice, but I rarely took it.

After I moved to New York in 1987 I stayed in contact with Billy and he came to visit me and Dee Silva at our apartment in New York. He told us he had the virus but he looked great and said he was doing well. I was shocked to hear of his death, but considering the mortality rate of those years I shouldn't have been.

There was a memorial in his hometown of Jersey City but even though I was living there at the time, I didn't attend. I sent flowers and handled it the way I handled so many other things in those days, with drugs and alcohol.

Well, here's to you Bil, wherever you are. Thank you for being with me in the best and worst of times. I miss you so much. If there is a rock and roll heaven I'm sure you're on the guest list.

Save me a spot near the stage.

Love, Rob

 photo: Terry Dorn


Jack Marquette writes (June 1997):

He was always cool and friendly and a big fan of nu-music. He especially went for the Rockabilly scene as it developed in the '80's. His presence at any event immediately put people at ease. He knew everyone and never spoke badly of anyone.

T.Billy with the Fabulous Oh! Sisters @theoretical.
Photo: Tomata DuPlenty

He died (of AIDS) sometime in 1991... just when the ominous fear of The Plague began to hit the West Coast hardest. Friends remembered him at a festive wake which unfortuneately turned out to be one in series.

As things sometimes go, I now live in the modest little house he had owned. I'm sure he would like the garden I've made in the back yard. I think of him often.


I know too little about T.Billy to adequately remember him here. Hopefully those who were closer to this fine person might take the time to offer their own words.

...and they have!




Special thanks to Rob Wray who wrote the piece in the right column AND to Terry Dorn who offers even more remembrances of T. Billy...

see additional remembrances of T.Billy...

see the other theoretical remembrances...


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