Eventually Pete and Vi Spooner packed up their family and headed back to land of Bill's birth, much to the joy of Bill and his sisters. And fortunately for Tubes fans, as Phoenix was the nursery for his budding musical talents. After returning to Arizona, Bill gave up contact sports for the good of his knees and dedicated himself to playing guitar. He had already acquired several trophies for his playing as youngster, but as a teen with a Gibson Melody Maker and spankin' new Fender amp Bill entered a whole new world...
As primarily a Beatles cover band they played all over Phoenix. Week after week they won the battle of bands at Christown Mall. It wasn't just musical prowess that won those battles, some credit goes to clever marketing. The band's bass player Mike Cross worked days as a car washer for Avis Rent a Car. The Avis motto was "We Try Harder". It seems that several boxes of "We Try Harder" buttons found their way in the hands of the band. The guys painstakingly silkscreened XLs on each button. Upon arriving at the mall they'd pass out the buttons to the crowd. When it came time to vote for the best band, "well it must have been the XL's cause I'm wearin' their button." Now you're seeing the clever marketing plan, right?
He always dreamed of California. The band he started in Phoenix, the Beans, moved to San Francisco in 1970. Shortly after arriving the Beans merged with another group, the Red, White and Blues Band, to become the Tubes. He was guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter in a group known for wacky, unpredictable music and an even stranger (some say bizarre) stage show.
"I was writing songs to illustrate outrageous characters concocted by Michael Cotten, Prairie Prince and myself. I was (am) really surprised some people consider these songs (White Punks On Dope, Mondo Bondage, What Do You Want From Life?) classics. I'm not complaining...just mystified..." states Spooner.
After years on the road and a dozen or so albums, Spooner was physically and mentally burned out. He left the Tubes in 1989 in search of mental health. One of the hardest things about leaving the Tubes, the band he'd spent 19 years with, was giving up his share of the 24 track automated recording studio he had talked his "partners" into purchasing.
"It would have been awkward, to say the least, to continue working there, while the rest of the band slogging through W.P.O.D. or She's A Beauty at a funky bar or some Onion Festival...it had to be a clean break", Spooner said.
After recuperating for several years, Bill experimented with several bands, the Sponge Mummies an anti-environmental satire group and SNAFU (paramilitary rock). Neither were very successful, although he began writing again during this period. Some of the songs appeared on the 1996 release "Mall to Mars" originally released on Visible Records than on RDK Records. The record has a space theme as the title suggests, and definitely has some great rock moments.
In 1998 Spooner teamed up with Alex Guinness to form the acoustic rock-folk group the Folk-Ups. After trying on many bass players they finally found the perfect fit with upright bassist Mark Skowronek. They have been performing successfully at Bay Area clubs such as Slim's, Noe Valley Ministry, Cafe Amsterdam, the Sweetwater just to name a few. The Folk-Ups have opened for Dave Davies of the Kinks, Freedy Johnston and local faves Liar and Storm & Her Dirty Mouth.
Currently Bill is working on a solo album with his son Boone Spooner serving as producer/engineer/chief conspirator.