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Bill Pursell

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Biography

Pianist Bill Pursell enjoyed a brief career as a pop composer in the 1960s, scoring a Top Ten hit with 1963's "Our Winter Love." A native of California, Pursell first studied music composition in Baltimore before serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, where he arranged for the military band. After the war, he continued his musical studies, and in 1953 his symphonic poem "Christ Looking Over Jerusalem" won the inaugural Edward B. Benjamin Prize. By the late '50s Pursell had migrated to Nashville, teaching at Tennessee State and Vanderbilt Universities and playing with the Nashville Symphony. Outside of the classical world, he became an active session pianist for a number of pop and country artists, and in 1962 signed his own solo deal with Columbia. His full-length debut, Our Winter Love, was a surprise success, with the title track reaching number nine on Billboard's Hot 100 and the album peaking at number 15. Pursell's music was in the instrumental adult contemporary pop style and the album featured arrangements by Bill Justis and was conducted by Grady Martin. Though he would never again achieve such a degree of success as a solo artist, he spent much of the '60s behind the scenes playing on and arranging sessions by Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, and many more. Following his pop career, Pursell spent some time composing for television and continued in the field of music education, joining the faculty at Belmont University. He was named named Composer of the Year by the Tennessee Music Teachers Association in 1985 and completed his D.M.A. a decade later at the Eastman School of Music. ~ Timothy Monger

Top Songs

Born:

09 June 1926 in Oakland, CA

Genre
Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s

Contemporaries