Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
Do you remember this Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods big hit?
Billy, don’t be a hero. Don’t be a fool with your life.
Billy, don’t be a hero. Come back and make me your wife.
And as he started to go, she said “Billy, keep your head low.”
Billy, don’t be a hero. Come back to me.
That’s a great song from when I was a kid. I would often learn the words to a song so that I could sing along, but I never bothered to really learn what songs were about. Words have always baffled me. Each word can have so many different meanings and then when you put several words together to form a sentence, the meanings can be endless. Yes, I have trouble with comprehension. I like numbers much more than words. Anyhoo…..I guess that song was about a guy in the war who ends up dying. I used to sing it all happy with a big ole smile on my cute face. I’m glad I didn’t know it was about someone dying. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much.
BTW, I listened to it a bunch one day outside in the sun. The sun is not good for records. My older sister Lori wasn’t very happy when I returned her 45 rpm of Billy, Don’t Be a Hero with it all warped and wavy. Oops. My bad.
Group Name and Big Dick
Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods had been around a while before hitting it big with Billy, Don’t Be a Hero in 1974. The band was formed in high school in Cincinnati in 1965 by Bo Donaldson. It was just called The Heywoods back then. It wasn’t named after anyone in the group. Their original name of The Heywoods was the last name of a songwriter on a Rolling Stones album and the group liked the sound of it. Okay. Whatever. I guess Mr. Big Dick Bo Donaldson decided later that he should be in the name of the group. They toured as an opening act in the 60’s for The Rascals, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Grassroots, and Herman’s Hermits. They were first really discovered while touring with The Osmonds in the early 1970’s. I think they also performed with David Cassidy (speaking of big dicks).
Back to Billy, Don’t Be a Hero and Die. (That should have been the title.) Anyway, it held the number one spot on the charts for two weeks and sold over three million copies. I know my sister Lori bought two copies. The group Paper Lace actually recorded the song first. (They’re probably best known for their hit “The Night Chicago Died”.) The Paper Lace version hit number one on the UK charts on March 16, 1974. The Heywoods hurried and put their version out in the U.S. before Paper Lace could. Hey, that’s not fair. The Heywoods version never charted on the U.K. charts while Paper Lace’s version stalled at #96 on the U.S. charts. Go figure.
Billy Don’t Be a Hero has been mentioned in such TV shows as Get a Life, ALF, and Friends.
The main group that was popular in 1974 consisted of Bo Donaldson (duh), Mike Gibbons, Rick Joswick, Gary Coveyou, David Krock, Nicky Brunetti, and Scott Baker. The group dried up by the end of the 70’s, tried country music in the 80’s as the group River Bend, and then just broke up. I don’t really know what they’re doing now. Bo is probably still using his 15 minutes of fame to tour occasionally with “his” group which I think consists of a bunch of young kids and himself. I saw the group about ten years ago. Bo got fluffy. I think Gary Coveyou is an accountant or something. Mike Gibbons died a few years ago in 2016.
Billy, Don’t Be a Hero is a part of my childhood and memories I hold dear of my sister. For that, I am grateful to Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.