Billy Childish (born Steven John Hamper, 1 December 1959) is an English painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist.
Childish has made records of punk, garage, rock and roll, blues, folk, classical/experimental, spoken word and nursery rhymes. In a letter to Childish, the musician Ivor Cutler said of Childish: "You are perhaps too subtle and sophisticated for the mass market." Childish's groups include TV21, later known as the Pop Rivets (1977-1980), sometimes spelled the Pop Rivits, with Bruce Brand, Romas Foord (replaced by Russell 'Big Russ' Wilkins) and Russell 'Little Russ' Lax. He later formed a garage rock inspired band called Thee Milkshakes (1980-1984) with Mickey Hampshire, Thee Mighty Caesars (1985-1989), The Delmonas then Thee Headcoats (1989-1999). In 2000 he formed Wild Billy Childish & The Friends of the Buff Medways Fanciers Association (2000-2006), named after a type of poultry bred in his home town. The Buff Medways, or The Buffs, as they were sometimes affectionately known, split in 2006, and Wild Billy Childish & the Musicians of the British Empire were born, recording a song about one of Childish's heroes George Mallory titled "Bottomless Pit." In early 2007, Childish formed The Vermin Poets with former Fire Dept singer and guitarist Neil Palmer and A-Lines guitarist and singer Julie Hamper, his wife. Thee Headcoats began their monthly residency at the Wild Western Room in the St John's Tavern, north London, in the early 1990s, and continued after moving to the Dirty Water Club in 1996. The Musicians of the British Empire (MBEs) played at the venue more or less once a month until February 2011. Childish has not played live since then.
On 11 September 2009, Damaged Goods Records - Childish's current label - issued a message to subscribers stating that Childish's wife Julie (aka Nurse Julie, bassist in the MBEs) was pregnant. Childish has since been recording as bass player with The Spartan Dreggs, with Neil Palmer on vocals and guitar and Wolf Howard on drums. From 2013 the MBEs reunited under the name Wild Billy Childish [or 'Chyldish'] and CTMF and as of the end of 2014 have released three albums.
In 2014 Childish produced, played on and co-wrote (with Dave Tattersall) most of the songs on The Wave Pictures' album Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon.
Childish has been namechecked by a number of famous musicians including Kurt Cobain, Graham Coxon, The White Stripes (Jack White had Childish's name written in large letters on his arm for an early Top of the Pops appearance) and Kylie Minogue who named the LP Impossible Princess after his book Poems to Break the Harts of Impossible Princesses.