Induction Year: 1994
Birth Name: Wilburn Steven - Bill Rice
Birth Date: April 19, 1939
Place of Birth: Datto, AR
Bill Rice was born in Datto, Ark., in April 1939. His parents were Wid and Nova Rice. He had a very humble beginning and was taught his first guitar chords by his mother at the age of 14. He formed his first band when he was 16 and played at the local dances and city functions. His real break happened when Scotty Moore signed Bill, age 18, to a recording contract on Fernwood Records in Memphis. Bill started to write songs for his project and as a result landed his first major cut on Elvis Presley in April 1960. The cut was "Girl Next Door Went Awalking" on the "ELVIS IS BACK" album.
While on the road, Bill met and became fast friends with co-entertainer, Jerry Foster. They happened to be working the same circuit of clubs and theatres. During one of their breaks, Bill advised Jerry that he was going into the studio to record in a few days, and Jerry played him a few of his songs. Bill remarked, "I like your lyric, but the melody needs some work." In turn, Bill played Jerry some of his songs, to which Jerry replied, "I like the melody, but your lyric is a little weak." Thus was born the award-winning songwriting team of "Foster & Rice" that spanned a 15-year career. Getting started was a little slow at first as they both worked at a radio station - KTCB in Malden, Missouri - while continuing to play in nightclubs, honing in on their songwriting skills as well as raising their families. In the early ’60s Bill & Jerry traveled the road from Malden to Memphis to record demos in a studio owned by Roland James (a prolific guitarist in his own right). Roland asked Jack Clement, a freelance producer for RCA, to stop by and take a listen. The next thing you know, Bill & Jerry entered into a songwriting contract with famed publishers Bill Hall & Jack Clement, and the dream began. A few of Bill's favorites are: "I'll Think of Something," "Someone To Give My Love To," “The Easy Part's Over” and “Ain’t She Something Else.” Foster and Rice had 11 songs in the charts at one time. They were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.
Bill is the most award-winning songwriter in the history of ASCAP with 73 awards to date. He was awarded ASCAP writer of the year six times and has been nominated for four Grammys over the years, including the solo-penned effort, "I Wonder Could I Live There Anymore," recorded by Charley Pride. Bill also has been presented with three BMI awards.
Bill started another long-term songwriting partnership with then wife, Sharon Vaughn Rice, in 1979. They had many major cuts to their credit, including "Lonely Too Long” by Patty Loveless, and "I'm Not That Lonely Yet" by Reba McEntire. They were awarded the CMA Vocal Duo Event of the Year in 1992 for "Till A Tear Becomes A Rose" by Keith Whitley & Lorrie Morgan. Bill and Sharon ended their partnership in 1997.
Bill has had numerous recordings by various artists from George Jones to Rascal Flatts. Also, Bill has been instrumental in bringing new songwriting talent to Nashville throughout the years. He contracted Rich Alves, Roger Murrah and Jim McBride among others to write for his own publishing companies. Bill now lives in Florida and still works daily on his songwriting creations.
Worked in radio (Rice)
Grade School--Datto, AR (Rice)
High School--Corning, AR (Rice)
Discography / Career Highlights
1953--Rice received first guitar for Christmas; mother taught him three chords
1961--Foster and Rice teamed up
1962--first cut for Rice recorded by Elvis Presley; signed recording contract with Scotty Moore
mid 1960s--team signed with Bill Hall/Jack Clement Publishing
1967--Foster and Rice moved to Nashville
1969--received a Grammy nomination for "Back Side of Dallas" (recorded by Jeannie C. Riley)
1972--Foster and Rice set new ASCAP Awards record with 10 citations (presented by ASCAP in a gold wheelbarrow)
1974--broke their 1972 record, receiving 11 ASCAP writer awards
1974--formed production company, Farah, with Bill Hall
1981--received a Grammy nomination for "Here Comes The Hurt Again," (recorded by Mickey Gilley) featured in the film "Urban Cowboy"
1969 – BMI \ The Easy Part's Over
1970 – ASCAP \ Heaven Every Day
1971 – ASCAP \ Dixie Belle
1979 – Cashbox \ Composer of the Year
"Heaven Every Day" - Artists: Mel Tillis (1969)
"The Easy Part's Over" - Artists: Charley Pride (1968), Steve Wariner (1980), Louis Armstrong
"Someone To Give My Love To" - Artists: Johnny Paycheck (1972), Tracy Byrd (1992), Robert Goulet
"The Day the World Stood Still" - Artists: Charley Pride (1967)
"The Back Side of Dallas" - Artists: Jeannie C. Riley
"Would You Take Another Chance On Me" - Artists: Jerry Lee Lewis (1971)
"Take Time to Love Her" - Artists: Nat Stuckey (1972)
"When You Say Love" - Artists: Bob Luman (1972), Sonny & Cher (1972)
"Ain't She Something Else" - Artists: Eddie Raven (1974), Conway Twitty (1985)
"Think About It Darlin'" - Artists: Jerry Lee Lewis (1971)
"I'll Think of Something" - Artists: Hank Williams, Jr. (1973), Mark Chesnutt (1991)
"When Your Good Love Was Mine" - Artists: Narvel Felts (1974)
"Here Comes the Hurt Again" - Artists: Mickey Gilley (1977)
"Here Comes the Hurt Again" was featured in the film "Urban Cowboy."
Foster usually wrote the lyrics, Rice the music and arrangement.
Had 10 songs on the charts at one time in 1974.