Private inurnment services for William R. “Bill” Barker, 59, Lawrence, will be held at a later date.
Mr. Barker died Saturday, February 11, 2012, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
He was born April 5, 1942 in Parsons, KS to Raymond and Mary Ann Rauniker Barker.
Mr. Barker was given the nickname “Lucky” by his uncle Smitty, also “horyock”. His beloved Aunt paid for accordion lessons at Bertolino/ Ravino Studios in San Diego, California. He hated the accordion and regularly gave his teacher migraines through his natural sensitivity and musical gifts. He became a professional organist at the age of 14 in early rock bands in Parsons, Kansas. His professional music life ended in 1979 when disco ruined the live music scene literally overnight in Joplin, Missouri at Caesar’s Palace.
During his college years (1972-1981) he was care free and happy. He studied piano and music composition at Pittsburg State University and at Wichita State University.
Bill became effete stride and a classic Missouri ragtime pianist. He played “blues” on the organ, and was influenced by Jimmy Smith, Booker T and the MG’s, Billy Preston, and Dave “Baby” Cortez. His piano influences include a sea net filled with slick, beautiful, black pianists, modern, and traditional.
Beloved companions and cosmic mates were Carol Beth Peterson of Pittsburg, Kansas and Llona Theresa Delge of Lecompton, Kansas.
Mr. Barker is survived by a brother, Bob Grant of Frontenac, Kansas.
Messages & Condolences
I’m going to really miss your laugh and your warm personality. Thank you for helping me get my cats back from the Humane Society! I’d sure like to know what happened to cause your death if someone can please let me know, I’d apppreciate it. Rest in peace Bill!
Bill you are my best friend. Thank you for your generosity, the evenings of listening to great records, you helped me through many difficult times and are the only person on the planet who showed me the world as it really is. It was a privilege to hear you perform and improvise, often with great spirit, some of which to this day I regret not having recorded for the enjoyment and enlightenment of others. But thank you for what you left behind. Your sense of humor, unique insight into all periods of music composition, and your tender love for your fellow man are indeed cherished. Everything I read here is true and I hope that these messages reach you somehow. My only regret is not having spent more time with you than I did. You will be missed. Your Dutch friend, Wonne
P.S. Special thanks to Nancy Hawkins, Nancy I can tell you really knew Bill. I can just hear him laugh about your last comment. And I did not know that about “and little girls dance” but yes, that is Bill. I cried when I read that. WK
Oh I miss that wonderful laugh of his. And his appreciation of a nice piano.
It’s been wonderful reading all the heart-felt comments left by his dear friends. I spoke to his brother and there will be a memorial service in the spring, hopefully nice weather. I’m gathering pictures, videos, music and the like, let’s make this a service Bill will look down on and say “I played the piano and little girls danced.”
I first met Bill when he was doing research on the music of Lawrence native, George Nash Walker and others of vaudeville fame.
It was always a real treat to hear Bill play ragtime on the Chickering piano at Watkins Museum. He was extremely gifted and I will miss him greatly.
Bill once told me what he wanted as his epitaph. It was a comment he once a heard a lady make to her daughter.”See that man over there. He plays the piano and little girls dance.”
And Bill had a wicked sense of humor.
Bill was one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous men I have ever known and I feel priveleged to have had his friendship.
Bill was one of a kind. A good friend, great musician and such a good heart. May he continue his lifelong passion for music in the hereafter. Nothing would please him more!
Bill was my “little brother” from the time we met when he was 15 yrs old. We shared a great love, many laughs and a mutual affinity for ragtime music. One of my fondest memories is when he called to tell me he wanted to play for me on the baby grand at the hospital and he played for an hour with an audiance of one very appreciative lady. He also graceously provided a medley of ragtime at my wedding in 1974. Love lasts forever.
He will be missed. I know Bill though my sister Ilona who was a very troubled soul and Bill was a blessing for my sister and all of us. He was a very special person. Rest in peace Bill!
I was privileged to meet Bill when I was working at the KU Music Library, and we spent many hours talking organ music, ragtime, all types of jazz and life in general. I can only imagine the B-3 that he is playing now! Don’t RIP, Bill, let ’em know you’ve arrived!
Bill was a greater keyboard talent than a lot of people realize. It was almost “RainMan-ish” the way he could watch or hear someone play and turn around and duplicate it. I hope his music goes on and somehow the original rags that he wrote are preserved. His humor, talent and personality will be sorely missed.
Bill had rhythm in his fingers and music in his soul. Although I can still hear it, I am going to miss his live performances.
Bill had a deep well of enthusiasm, able to get people excited about things they didn’t know they’d enjoy. I was glad I got to see him play both piano and organ– he was really good!
He was my good little buddy – and one heck of an accordion player! He wasn’t too bad on piano and B-3 either. I’ll miss him. What a talent!!
Bill was one talented man with a sweet soul. He was a main reason I would check my Facebook…there was always something fun from him.
I hope we can have a memorial service at the hospital where he so often played.
My condolences to all other friends.
I met Bill in the latter 90s through our mutual interest in ragtime. I will miss his enthusiasm and knowledge of music. I had the pleasure of making music (ragtime) with him on a few occasions and will note that although he claimed no fondness for the accordion he played that instrument very well.
We are all going to miss Bill soooo much. I’m very sorry for your loss…as well as for ours. Bill was truly one-of-a-kind!
(I hope there are plans for a memorial service later on because Bill was a much-loved man whose many friends would love the opportunity to say goodbye.)
Such a giving and gentle soul. He seemed to be made of music. Too pure for this ragged world. Peace be with you.
Rest in Peace Bill!
I will always remember your amazing key board work on the Livin End’s cover of Light my Fire. I’m glad to have known you!
Friends and Family,
My DEEPEST condolences. Bill has always been a wonderful friend since mid 1990’s.
He always encouraged me when I was depressed.
He is a wonderful piano teacher as he gave me a few lessons himself.
I will miss him.
I played with Bill in a band from Parsons called Slowily The band got it’s name because Bill was always late and slow to get around. I have such good feelings thinking about how much fun it was to play with and know him.I’m deeply saddened.
Bill volunteered at the library for several years, and always brought a great sense of humor with him to work. He will be missed.
The ambassador of ragtime…we will miss you, Bill.
I have none Bill since the 1990’s and enjoyed his friendship very much. Hope all is well on the other side.
Messages are closed.