This year will mark the 30 year anniversary for a local entertainer.
DJ Bill France has played to tens of thousands of residents all across the Mountain State for the past three decades. However, Bill France never pursued this particular job. The job pursued him.
“I never said, I’m going to be a DJ,” France said. “It just kinda found me.”
The very first time France DJ’d was while attending Marshall University. It was at a fraternity party. He was filling in for a friend and says it was quite the experience. “I learned first hand how important it is to a party,” he said
It would be a couple years later before it happened again. A lady called France and asked him to DJ party for some cheerleaders.
“I had no equipment and very limited music, but they told me not to worry about it,” France said. “I showed up, played and was paid at the end of the party. That was not a bad thing. That’s when the light first went off in my head.”
The next gig was out of necessity. “I wanted to buy myself a truck, so I took a DJ job at a night club.” During that time period, France started getting more and more calls about private DJ work. “As soon as my truck was paid for I left the club and never looked back.”
“This was the time that DJ Bill France was born,” he said. “I originally was going to call my DJ service, ‘Let’s Dance DJ Service.’ I couldn’t afford a business listing in the phone book at that time, so I knew it needed my name in it and I had to drive home the fact I was a DJ.” That’s when France started branding himself on shirts, number stickers, lanyards anything I could put my logo on. “It worked in a big way!”
I have seen everything at my dances and met the most amazing people. “I’ve played in barns, on boats, at the Greenbrier, and all parts in between.”
France says it’s not uncommon to run into people all Walmart who says, “You DJ’d my wedding reception!” or “You played my prom!”
“I remember playing a block party at the Cinemas the night Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. won America’s Got Talent. People were going nuts and all these TV crews were there,” he said.
France also played the congratulations party for Landau at the Logan High Fieldhouse.
France was the first act that ever played for the West Virginia Freedom Festival. “I played the event before it even had a name,” France said. It was pouring the rain. I was set up on a rickety old flat bed and we all were wondering if anyone would even show up,” France said. Then the clouds cleared. He started pumping out music and people started pouring into Courthouse Square. “I knew right then, this would become an annual event.”
“People have always asked, ‘How do you know what to play?’” France said. “I’ve always been obsessed with music and I have a wide range of genres that I love. When I’m asked to play song, I usually already know the artist, the beats per minute, the intro length, and the year it was released. I’ve always known more than anyone should know about music.”
When France started he built and paid for his entire music collection. “This was before the Internet. There was no downloading or streaming. It was an entirely different world.”
Over the past couple months, France uploaded that library to a laptop. “I didn’t realize how much music I had. There were so much from the 1940s to today, and every decade in between.”
Expect to be seeing more of DJ Bill France in the months and years ahead. “I had pursued other interests over the past few years that prevented me from taking many extra DJ jobs.” France said all of that is over and now it’s time to get back to doing what he’s best known for.
To reserve a wedding dance or party with DJ Bill France, you can contact him on Facebook or call 304-752-6283.