Billy Bang (September 20, 1947 - April 11, 2011), born William Vincent Walker, was an American free jazz violinist and composer.
Bang's family moved to New York City's Bronx neighborhood while he was still an infant, and as a child he attended a special school for musicians in nearby Harlem. At that school, students were assigned instruments based on their physical size. Bang was fairly small, so he received a violin instead of either of his first choices, the saxophone or the drums. It was around this time that he acquired the nickname of "Billy Bang", derived from a popular cartoon character.
Bang studied the violin until he earned a hardship scholarship to the Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at which point he abandoned the instrument because the school did not have a music program. He had difficulty adjusting to life at the school, where he encountered racism and developed confusion about his identity, which he later blamed for his onset of...
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