Primary Instrument(s): Drums
Secondary Instrument(s): Percussion
At age 5 banging on pots/pans, bed spreads, pillows, or basically anything he could find, William's love for drums and music began. Music was all around his house so it was just a natural evolution. Fast forward, Will has been a professional musician since age 15 and earned a degree in Studio Music and Jazz from UTK. After moving to Nashville in 1995, William became the house drummer at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar performing with BlueZone. During this time William had the opportunity to perform with Billy Preston, Bill Monroe, Slash, J. Geils Band, Elvin Bishop, Stacy Mitchhart, as well as many others. Also during this period William recorded with BlueZone and worked with bass legend Anthony Jackson. After this stint, Will freelanced and recorded around town with various musicians/artists until landing the gig with Chicago based Blues artist Jimmy Johnson in 1997. A month long tour in Europe performing many Jazz and Blues festivals as well as recording, "Every Road Ends Somewhere", in Paris, France, which was nominated for a W.C.Handy award for Blues Album of the Year-2000, followed. Some of the festivals William played with Mr. Johnson include: The New Orleans Jazz and Blues Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, St. Louis Jazz and Blues Festival, etc. Moving back to Nashville in 1998, William concentrated on studio work and played with various artists in Nashville most notably Thom Ellis, (no relation), and Greg T. Walker's, (Blackfoot), group NDN. Will can be heard on Thom's release, Ups and Downs and NDN's release Warrior's Pride, (nominated for Native American Music Award-2001). From 2002-2006 he was a member of pop/rock act Blue Merle, playing all drums and percussion on their debut. After Blue Merle released their Island Records debut album, BURNING IN THE SUN, in February 2005, the album title track quickly became a top five AAA radio hit for 10 weeks eventually peaking at 3. The band headlined nationally and performed at such prestigious events as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo Music Festival and Farm AID. Along the way they got to share the stage with an incredible array of acts including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, The Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Jem, J.J. Cale, Counting Crows, Guster, Donavon Frankenreiter, Anna Nalick, Train, among many others. Blue Merle made their national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) and went on on to perform on A&Es Breakfast with the Arts, Vh1's Save the Music and CBS Saturday Early Show. In early 2006 Will was offered the gig with Columbia/Nashville artist Keith Anderson and departed from Blue Merle. While on tour with Mr. Anderson, Will shared the stage with such talented artists as Gretchen Wilson, Big and Rich, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Brooks & Dunn, Phil Vasser, Gary Allan, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Trace Atkins, Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson, Foster & Lloyd, Sara Evans, etc., as well as appearing in videos and live concert specials for The Grand Ole Opry, CMT and GAC. Besides being a sideman, William co-founded, performed drums, equally composed, and co-produced two discs from jazz trio EMP Project on Blue Canoe Records. Moreover, William is also active as a session drummer in Nashville for many artists, songwriters, and musicians some of which are listed in his top friends list. Finally, William Ellis proudly endorses and thanks the following companies: Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads and Pro Mark Drumsticks.