William Ballard Doggett (February 16, 1916 – November 13, 1996) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues pianist and organist. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his mother, a church pianist, introduced him to music when he was 9 years old. By the time he was 15, he had joined a Philadelphia area combo, playing local theaters and clubs while attending high school. He later sold his band to Lucky Millinder, and worked during the 1930s and early 1940s for both Millinder and arranger Jimmy Mundy. In 1942 he was hired as The Ink Spots' pianist and arranger. In 1949, he replaced Wild Bill Davis in Louis Jordan's Tympany Five. It was there that he first achieved success playing the Hammond organ and he is also reputed to have written one of Jordan's biggest hits, "Saturday Night Fish Fry", for which Jordan claimed the writing credit. In 1951, he organized his own trio and began recording for King Records. His best known recording is "Honky Tonk," a rhythm and blues hit of 1956 which sold four million copies, and which he co-wrote with Billy Butler. He won the Cash Box award for best rhythm and blues performer in 1957, 1958, and 1959. He also arranged for many bandleaders and performers, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lionel Hampton. He continued to play and arrange until he died of a heart attack in New York City. As a jazz player Doggett started in swing music and later played soul jazz, a field in which rhythm and blues organists were highly sought after. His band included saxophonists Red Holloway, Clifford Scott, Percy France, David "Bubba" Brooks, Floyd "Candy" Johnson, guitarists Floyd Smith, Pete Mays, and singers Toni Williams and Betty Saint-Clair.
With his instrumental hit "Honky Tonk" in February 1956, Bill Doggett (born William Ballard Doggett) created one of rock's greatest instrumental tracks. Although it generated scores of offers to perform in rock & roll clubs throughout the United States, Doggett remained tied to the jazz and organ-based R&B that he had performed since the 1930s. Continuing to record for the Cincinnati-based King label until 1960, he went on to record for Warner Brothers, Columbia, ABC-Paramount and Sue. His last session came as a member and producer of an all-star jazz/R&B group, Bluesiana Hurricane in 1995. With his instrumental hit “Honky Tonk” in February 1956, Bill Doggett (born William Ballard Doggett) created one of rock’s greatest instrumental tracks. Although it generated scores of offers to perform in rock & roll clubs throughout the United States, Doggett remained tied to the jazz and organ-based R&B that he had performed since the 1930s. Continuing to record for the Cincinnati-based King label until 1960, he went on to record for Warner Brothers, Columbia, ABC-Paramount and Sue. His last session came as a member and producer of an all-star jazz/R&B group, Bluesiana Hurricane in 1995. Born on the north side of Philadelphia, Doggett struggled with poverty as a youngster. Although he initially dreamed of playing the trumpet, his family was unable to afford lessons. Persuaded by his mother (a church pianist), to try keyboards instead, he quickly mastered the instrument. Hailed as a child prodigy by his 13th birthday, he formed his first band, the Five Majors, at the age of 15. Performing with the Jimmy Gorman Band, the pit orchestra at the Nixon Grand Theater, while still in high school, Doggett assumed leadership of the group in 1938. The experience was brief, however, as Doggett sold the orchestra to Lucky Millinder, with whom he continued to work off and on for the next four years. He made his recording debut on Millinder's tracks, "Little Old Lady From Baltimore" and "All Aboard" in 1939. Although he formed a short-lived orchestra with Benny Goodman's arranger, Jimmy Mundy, in late 1939, Doggett continued to work primarily as a sideman. Playing piano and arranging for the Ink Spots from 1942 until 1944, he went on to arrange tunes for Count Basie's band and tour and/or record with Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. Replacing Wild Bill Davis in Louis Jordan's band, in 1947, he appeared on the influential tunes, "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Blue Light Boogie." He made his debut as an organist during June 1951 recording sessions with Ella Fitzgerald. Debuting his own organ-led combo at New York nightclub, the Baby Grand, in June 1952, Doggett recorded more than a dozen singles before striking gold with "Honky Tonk" four years later. A longtime resident of Long Island, New York, Doggett died on November 13, 1996, three days after suffering a heart attack. Read more on Last.fm. last.fm