Billy Hamilton was born in Cincinnati and played mandolin in the Bobby Osborne style. He was once offered a job with the Osborne Brothers as guitar player and third voice in the trio, but turned it down. While attending Yale University, he had a band called the Gray Sky Boys and was acquainted with rocker Jerry Garcia while Garcia was still playing bluegrass. In 2016, he is Professor of Russian and Associate Dean at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

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