Community Mourns Death Of Minnesotan Musician

The local and national music scene is mourning the death of Billy Franze of Dr. Mambo's Combo, reports Reg Chapman (2:29). WCCO 4 News - April 28, 2021

Video Transcript

- People in the local and national music scene are mourning the death of Billy Franze of Dr. Mambo's Combo.

- From guitar to bass to vocals, Franze was known throughout the industry as an incredible performer, mentor, and friend. Billy Franze died unexpectedly yesterday. Reg Chapman shares the positive impact he had in the music industry.

REG CHAPMAN: For more than 33 years, Billy Franze graced the stage at Bunkers Music Bar and Grill as part of Dr. Mambo's Combo.

JULIUS COLLINS: Billy is known all around the world. You know, and here in the Twin Cities, he is revered.

REG CHAPMAN: Billy played with greats like John Mayer, Mavis Staples, and Johnny Lang. Artists like Prince, Andre Simone, and Jelly Bean Johnson would come to Bunkers to hear and play with this musical giant.

JULIUS COLLINS: He's one in like 10 billion. He's just an original individual. He's measured in his kindness and he's generous with it.

- (SINGING) And I'm sorry.

REG CHAPMAN: Julius Collins is a friend and fellow bandmate.

JULIUS COLLINS: I've met and started playing with Billy in '91. Playing music with him for me was the ultimate, because he played for love.

REG CHAPMAN: And his talent limitless.

JULIUS COLLINS: He made music really conversational.

REG CHAPMAN: From rock to R&B and jazz, Billy put his heart and soul into everything he played.

JULIUS COLLINS: When Billy played music, he had a way of, like, looking at you and, like, ministering to you. And he was making sure, he was making a connection.

REG CHAPMAN: Thus the nickname, "the Reverend."

JULIUS COLLINS: He's one of those people that you just feel better when you're around him.

REG CHAPMAN: Billy retired right before the pandemic hit. But the music was calling him back to the stage.

JULIUS COLLINS: I was thrilled when there were a couple of shows on the docket, and he was the guy saying let's do 'em. And I was like, well, all right! Let's get it, Reverend! That joy just, you know, in the blink of an eye, turns to just the worst kind of sadness.

- Sadness knowing he will never perform live again, but finding happiness and knowing his body of work will live on forever. Reg Chapman, WCCO 4 News.

- Billy Franze always said the music doesn't die, it lives on forever. Dr. Mambo's Combo will perform again June 13 at the Hook and Ladder under the Canopy Series. Billy's wife Lisa says it's what he would have wanted.