Pet People: Musician, Entertainer Billy McGuigan

By on December 22, 2014

I have this philosophy.

We are all born with a “container” that holds all of our talent; whether it be a talent to write, teach, sing, hula-hoop or eat hot dogs. I believe that this container can only get so full, then you have no more room to grow “more talented.” Now- one can refine one’s skills, increase one’s experience and grow one’s knowledge, but that container of talent has a capacity. An example: we can try our best to be great baseball players, but we all can’t be Babe Ruth. The bathtub can only hold so much water, then it’s full. Get my gist? Good.

Billy McGuigan was born with a big ‘ol container for musical talent. His father played the guitar. In fact, the reason Billy, his brothers and their bandmates have the show Yesterday and Today, is because of Billy’s dad. He’d entertain the boys with renditions of popular songs, mainly ones by the Beatles, and his sons grew to love the sound at an early age. They recognized the way the band changed music forever. The observed the way the Beatles effected anyone’s life who had ever heard them. That’s the legacy Billy’s father left his boys.

Back to the container. Billy loved music from a young age, struggled to improve at times and tried his best to make the transition from someone who plays music and sang to being a musician and a singer. There is a difference, you know. You can play golf, but that doesn’t mean you’re a golfer, you see… Starting in 1999, Billy played in a cover band for two years. That was when he started to develop into his current state as a musician. “We played the bars for next to nothing. I was average, but worked hard.” He built his skills, experience and knowledge of playing music, hence filling his container. “I was a fledgling musician, but playing those bars was like boot camp,” he says. Let’s just say Billy’s time from ’99 on has resulted in a container that is ready to burst.



Billy and his brothers were Air Force brats. His dad traveled the country as a member of the USAF. Sadly, their dad passed away in his early forties from leukemia. Omaha, which was then home base for the McGuigans, along with his dad’s inspiration, granted Billy a career.

“It’s home,” he says. “There’s this sense of community here that I’ve never seen before,” he says. Billy started performing in The Buddy Holly Story, a theatrical representation of the musician’s life, in 2002. “We started playing and were embraced by the city. We were ‘it,'” he says graciously. “That’s hard to find.”

Now, Billy is everywhere, from performing in “Rave On!” which is the Buddy Holly story told through music, to “Yesterday and Today”, a musical tribute to the Beatles and Beatles fans, and “Rock Legends,” his third show paying homage to classic popular music, and appearing in movies, commercials and other productions, Billy is quite a bit more prolific that he was as the dude in the cover band 15 years ago. His schedule now is like that of a professional baseball player. It goes year-round. “If I were to be able to tell the 1999 me that this is what I would be doing in 2014, he would have said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,'” Billy says. He loves the pace of his schedule, though. “It’s really cool. Runs in Omaha, shows in Florida and at other theatres around the country? It’s amazing.”

When Billy started playing Buddy Holly way back when, he and the Omaha Playhouse realized that people loved the play, but wanted more music. He wrote “Rave On,” got feedback from his mentors, prolific actors and comedians and the rest is history. He’s now approaching the age where he can’t realistically play a twenty-two-year-old Buddy Holly (which is what the show depicts), so a replacement is being sought. That’s a sad note, but it’s also a testament to his longevity and prowess on the stage. A fourth show is also in the works. “It’s in its infancy stage- no, its embryonic stage at this point,” he says. Whatever stage it’s in, just be happy it’s coming.

What’s currently running at the Playhouse in Omaha is “Yesterday and Today,” the aforementioned Beatles tribute show. It’s an interactive show where attendees requests songs for the band to play. There is a caveat, however. Requests must be accompanied by a reason for their wanting to hear the song about to be played. This is another way Billy’s dad fits into the show. “Personally, we love all the Beatles’s music, but we want to make a personal connection,” he says. He and his brothers surely have a personal connection to the songs as they remember their dad strumming the chords and singing the songs in their childhood. “It’s more of a tribute to Beatles fans than the Beatles,” he says. That’s how much Billy and Beatles fans connect to the music.

I told Billy a personal story about myself and the Beatles, saying, “If I were to request a song, it would be ‘Yesterday.'” A few years ago, my family and I had to put down our beloved Siberian Husky, Meiko. At the time, I worked at a place that sold hot sandwiches. The night before Meiko was to be euthanized, I brought home some exorbitant amount of junk sandwiches, lay in the yard, fed them to my pup and cried. When I got into the car to leave, “Yesterday” came on the radio. That’s what Billy wants to know about me. And you. And anyone who attends the show.

He “plays” Buddy Holly on stage. He performs as the singer of other bands’ famous songs, too, but he’s not an impersonator. In fact, if you were to pick up the “Yesterday and Today” album that was recently released, you might just confuse Billy and his band for the Beatles themselves. That’s a trademark of the band. “We aren’t trying to be the Beatles, we’re trying to be true to the sound, the players, the music.” When one attends a show, one can expect to feel that connection. One can also leave feeling like there was something unexpected that occurred. “I want to connect with the audience musically. Spiritually. Cosmically.”



The legacy that his father left on Billy and his brothers is clear. Their father’s love of music and especially the Beatles has permeated each of their lives. Billy has a daughter named Cartney (like Sir Paul). His brother Matt has a son named Lennon (like John) and a dog named Ringo. Billy’s brother Ryan has a son named Harrison (as in George) and a daughter named Josie (like JoJo in the Beatles’s “Get Back”). The love for the music and the people who created it originally is evident in each show. Jay Hansen, Rich Miller and Tara Vaughn, his bandmates, all feel the same way about playing and connecting through music.

As a reporter or whatever you want to call me, it’s rare that I feel like I’ve done something groundbreaking or earth-shattering or even worth patting myself on the back for, but during this interview, I felt a little something like that. I asked Billy, “Your dad’s legacy is clear, and it’s a (expletive) pretty great one, but what do you want your legacy to be?” He sat for a moment with a smile, looking at the “Yellow Submarine” backdrop of the theatre stage we sat in and said, “Wow. No one’s ever asked me that.” His response is a little tear-jerking and no doubt authentic.


“My mind goes straight to my kids. I want to support my kids like my dad supported us. If I can somehow influence my children the way my dad influenced me, that’s it, man. That’s it.”


As for the future, Billy will continue to tour. The fourth show is in the works. “Rock Legends” is on the rise. Billy’s legacy may not be cemented yet, but he’ll get there.

We love to tell readers about Pet People, and this would not be a “Pet People” article without telling Billy’s story when it comes to animals. It was very important to Billy’s dad to always have a dog. One was always around. Billy himself wasn’t as adamant about dogs as his pops, but he’s had dogs. Jake, a cocker spaniel, died two weeks before his son Ciaran was born. “It was devastating. At that point, we were ready for the baby and just kind of put pets out of the picture.”

That was until Cartney, then eight-years-old, made a pitch. Using a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, she told her dad why the family needed a dog. Seriously? Wow. After hearing the pitch, Billy had no choice. His only rule was that the dog’s name had to be from the day the dog became theirs. The family’s wheaton terrier came to them on a Tuesday, so Tuesday it was. “Tuesday’s a runner, but the neighbors all know that,” he says. “Other than that, Tuesday is the best.”

Cartney, Ciaran and the rest of Billy’s family all love their pup very much. Free time is hard to come by, but Tuesday is a big part of it. When Billy has free time (which is very fleeting) he says he like to “turn the brain off,” play video games and relax. We don’t blame you, Billy.

Tuesday and the kiddos

Tuesday and the kiddos

An interesting note I wasn’t aware of before the interview: Billy has an album of original music called “Billy as Billy.” Before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Billy and his brother Matt were set to perform in Louisiana. Upon calling the manager of the show, they learned he was essentially living in a box. We all know the devastation the storm caused. Later, Billy was able to travel to New Orleans and play in front of “the most spirited, ready-to-party people he’s ever seen.” The experience inspired him and Matt to compose original music, starting with the song “Mission Street.” Billy says more original music is on the horizon.

Currently, “Yesterday and Today” is playing at the Playhouse in Omaha and will run into January. Though all shows are sold out, there are ways to get tickets if you’d really like to go. Keep up with Billy on Facebook to learn how. Also, the album that Billy and his band released recently is for sale. It’s a conglomeration of Beatles songs- one from each record the band ever released. Reviews have been phenomenal. If you go to a show, make sure to pick up a copy and get it signed by the band. The record is also available if you contact Billy’s manager, Kate, at through email. For more about the album, show schedule and info about Billy and his band, check out his Web site by clicking here.

If you’d like to keep up with Billy and the band, you can check out the Web site or follow on social media using the links below:

Find him on Facebook here.

If you use Twitter, click here to find Billy.

Also, you can find Billy on Instagram.

To see a promotional video for the “Yesterday and Today” show, click here.

Thanks to Billy for giving us time to highlight a great Omahan, entertainer and musician. Be on the lookout for the next best thing that he’s got in store for you and his fans!


Yesterday and Today Web Banner

Click the image to go to the Yesterday and Today webpage



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