Billy Peek (born in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American rock and roll and blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, producer. Billy Peek has recorded, toured and played as lead guitarist for rock icon Rod Stewart for five years. Billy Peek has recorded, toured and performed with rock legend Chuck Berry and was in the backing band for Chuck Berry's European tour. Peek continuously performs with his own band throughout the U.S.
Peek was born in South St. Louis, and as a child growing up in the 1950s he lived for a time in the apartment above his parents' bar known as the Peek-A-Boo Inn. There he began playing the country guitar with his father. When he was a bit older he heard the music of other burgeoning St. Louis musicians such as Chuck Berry and Ike Turner and it completely changed his life, leading Peek to focus his energies on blues and rock. At the age of 15, Peek formed his own band and went over to East St. Louis to listen to performers like Ike Turner, Little Mlton and Albert King. At the age of 18 Peek would sit in with Ike Turner's band. Peek learned the language of the blues and tried it out on his guitar from the sounds of B.B. King, Elmore James and Muddy Waters. However, the most important influence on Peek was Chuck Berry. Peek performed on a TV show, Russ Carter's "St. Louis Hop", which led him to opening for Chuck Berry at the first anniversary show at the Casa Loma Ballroom.
In 1963, Peek began performing during the "Gaslight Square" Era on the DeBaliviere Strip, where Chuck Berry strolled in and sat in the audience. Chuck Berry later came up and congratulated Peek on his playing and invited him to perform at Berry's club on Sunday afternoons, where sometimes Berry would sit in with Peek's group and they would play together. This led to a musical and personal association which led to a European tour during which Peek played in Berry's backup band.
In 1973, they performed together on an awards show honoring Berry's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and shortly thereafter in 1975, a television show called "Rock Concert". Rod Stewart happened to see that television show with his soon to be exiting guitarist Ronnie Wood, who was set to join the Rolling Stones. Rod Stewart called and set up an audition for Peek a few months later. Peek laid down a hard driving Chuck Berry-style rhythm during the audition, where he saw Rod Stewart jump in the air and hit his head of the control booth and yell "that's it, that's it" and he knew he had the job. With Peek's guitar helping set the pace, The Rod Stewart Group (RSG) became one of the best-selling musical aggregations in the world over the next 5 years.
Billy Peek's guitar solos on "Better Off Dead", "Blondes Have More Fun", "Ball Trap", "Wild Side Of Life", "Big Bayou", "She Won't Dance With Me", "Born Loose" and "Hot Legs" anchored the band in the traditional rock-and-roll style. Stewart's band dissolved in 1980 and Peek returned to St. Louis where he continued to be a local favorite, which led to Peek's emergence of his first solo blues album "Can A White Boy Play The Blues?", which attracted some attention in the U.S. and England and on blues radio stations.
While he mostly performs locally in the St. Louis area, Billy Peek has toured, played with and recorded with many major rock and roll and blues musicians. Under his own name he has recorded three albums. A Billy Peek TV documentary aired by PBS - KETC entitled "Living St. Louis" on November 8, 2007. On January 21, 2013 Peek performed for the Chuck Berry Lifetime Achievement Award Show in St. Louis, MO. On June 6, 2014 Peek reunited with Rod Stewart on stage at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO.