While we still do not know exactly how William Moore came to be recorded by Paramount, information about his life and music is available. Moore was born in Georgia on March 3, 1893, the son of Harriet and Frank Moore. Moore moved to Virginia in the 1920s, and his guitar playing was characteristic of the syncopated East Coast style that was common in both states.
Moore recorded for Paramount Records in 1928 in Chicago, and eight songs were commercially released of sixteen that received a copyright. Some of the issued recordings bear the name “Bill Moore.” Moore’s “Old Country Rock” is a fine example of a country dance tune, with a caller imploring various family members and fellow dancers to “rock” before telling them to “step back and let me rock.” The song’s narration refers to the Rappahannock River and the town of Tappahannock, where Moore worked as a barber in Bob Clark’s shop. Moore’s song “Barbershop Rag” testifies to both his skilled guitar playing and to his profession. Virginia audiences no doubt appreciated his twelve-bar blues songs, such as “Midnight Blues,” and the references to Ford motor cars and banking problems in “Ragtime Millionaire,” a variation on Irving Jones’s novelty composition.
One of Moore’s sons, William Edsel Moore, remembers his father performing “Midnight Blues,” “Ragtime Millionaire,” and “Tillie Lee,” another popular tune, although later in life his father became a church deacon and shied away from performing secular material, preferring sacred songs. The Moore family lived close to the First Baptist Church in Tappahannock and residents of the town recall him performing on the guitar, piano, violin, and accordion. Moore later plied his trade in Fredericksburg and Warrenton. He died on Nov. 22, 1951, and is buried in the Warrenton Cemetery.
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Library of Virginia