Billy McFarland celebrates 70 years in the music industry, his journey stands as an inspiration—a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the timeless allure of country music.
The journey took him from being a teenager in the 1950s to becoming a seasoned performer who continues to captivate audiences with his timeless tunes.
Sharing his story with RSVP magazine, he shared his unwavering commitment to his craft: "I started my singing career at just 17 when I joined The Dave Smith band."
Reflecting on his vibrant past, McFarland shared: "Now I’m 88, so it’s been a while since I started out on the road, alright!"
McFarland's journey has not been without its challenges.
"I was off for about nine months, and it’s felt like a long time," he admitted.
Health setbacks forced him off the stage temporarily, with a new hip and heart valve in March and April.
Despite these hurdles, the idea of retirement has never crossed his mind. Instead, McFarland has adapted his approach, opting for more localised performances.
"I cycled 21 miles to my first gig. I couldn’t do it now!" he laughed.
Recounting a memorable performance in Larne in 1967, he describes the arduous journey on a bicycle from Ballymena to Larne and back—a testament to the lengths he went to pursue his passion in the early days of his career.
In his personal life, McFarland celebrates a remarkable 61 years of marriage to his wife Nan.
Together, they have two sons, Billy Junior and Darwin, along with a grandson, Joel.
Despite the demands of a touring musician's life, McFarland acknowledged a regret: "I wish I’d had more time with my children growing up."
Last year, McFarland received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Northern Ireland Country Music Awards.
"It’s always nice to be recognised. It was a very nice thing to know that people appreciate what you do."
He also highlighted how much he appreciates his fans: "I love meeting the fans."
"To this very day it is one of my favourite things. Over the years people have sent cards, and would phone you up to see how you are doing. It is lovely that people still care and remember you" he added.
Retirement may be on the horizon for some, but for Billy McFarland, the stage remains a place of joy and fulfilment.
To read the full interview, pick up a copy of RSVP's Country Music Special, in shops now.
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