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© Amir Bey, September 20 2020

Billy Bang, the innovative violinist, composer, band leader and Viet Nam veteran, was born William Vincent Walker on September 20, 1947 at 1:30 PM, in Plateau, Alabama. Billy was the source of his birth data. There are interesting interacting structures that give his chart a compact, unitarian quality. The dyanmism of his playing and personality are clearly seen in his Sun/Uranus square, his Mars's position and the emphasis of his intellectual vitality and daring from his 3rd House.


Billy Bang's chart.


This is Billy's natal chart. Note the emphasis in his 3rd House with four planets and his Part of Fortune.

The Leading and Elevated planet Uranus exalted in 26° Gemini 06’, in the 11th House, making a tight square to his Sun, the chart’s ruler, at 26° Virgo 29’, in the 3rd House, gave him his dynamic, vital uniqueness and innovative mind. - His name “Bang,” came from his high school basketball days. That planetary combination spurred him to explore new forms of communication. Two other musicians renowned for their originality also had tight Sun/Uranus contacts: Charlie Parker (opposition), and the drummer Famoudou Don Moye (conjunction). The energy and independence of Billy’s powerful, super-charged Uranus square Sun aspect, gave him a pronounced willpower, with a pioneering orientation. At the violinist Leroy Jenkins’ memorial, Billy described running up the stairs to Leroy’s apartment to receive more teachings and insights about the violin from him. The operative action was Billy “running up the stairs:” Billy’s passions about anything were more than intellectual!

Billy's 3rd House, the house of communication, is of primary importance: the Sun, the chart’s ruler is there; three other planets in Libra, including Venus in its sign, dreamy visionary Neptune, and Mercury in its own house. The Sun is not only in a tight square with Uranus, it is also at the midpoint of the trine of his Mars and Jupiter. Venus, the dispositor of the chart, in Libra, is also widely square Uranus, and widely conjunct his Moon/Ascendant midpoint. There are many endowments in this chart, intellectually there is creative and aesthetical perceptions, and the talent to give them wonderful avenues of expression. Because his Ruler, the Sun, is his only planet in an Earth sign, it helps to ground and focus these gifts that could be excessive wanderings, into boundless aspirations. His Virgo Sun helps to refine his impulses more than his Libra Venus. His Nodal axis, North Node in 25° Taurus 09’, South Node in 25° Scorpio 09’, shows a trajectory from a broad and in some ways chaotic constant to a solidifying and enduring path to his life’s fulfillment.


This is the album cover for Viet Nam: Aftermath, with a photo of Billy from that time.

Billy's first album dedicated to Viet Nam

With the emphasis of his Stellium in the 3rd House, his curiosity and other intellectuality manifested in word games, with saxophonist Frank Lowe and others in selecting words and then playing with their various meanings. His Mercury conjunct Neptune not only gave him creative insights, but also made him vulnerable to substance abuse. Billy was fortunate to have used his creative drive to block the negative effects of that vulnerability. Another indication of his sensitivity was the effect of his Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Leo in his 1st House: he may have experienced separation from his father, or severance or dislocation during his early childhood was painful, yet also defined his individuality, giving him the capacity to deal with extremes.

An experience was Viet Nam. A “tunnel rat,” he would conduct tunnel searches most of the time going on missions alone. He was so efficient that there was a reward for him offered by the Viet Cong. The Saturn/Pluto conjunction, in his 1st House, is associated with undertaking severe tasks; their combination, Depth = Saturn, and the Underworld = Pluto, suggests subterranean activities in subterranean realms. Mars in Cancer in the 12th House likewise gives the picture of an internal fire burning that can erupt at unforeseen times. Ultimately he was profoundly sensitive, and those planets in those signs and houses enabled him to face his inner demons like he faced the Viet Cong. After the war was over, Billy wanted to untangle and resolve those experiences and their toll on him. He visited the country many times, doing concerts, with two albums dedicated to Viet Nam: The Aftermath. The personnel were all Viet Nam veterans, with photos of them from those days: Billy Bang- violin; Ted Daniel- trumpet; Frank Lowe- tenor saxophone; Sonny Fortune- flute; John Hicks- piano; Curtis Lundy- bass; Ron Brown- percussion; Michael Carvin- drums; Butch Morris- conductor on TET Offensive, and Viet Nam: Reflections. In The Aftermath, the featured musicians all appreciated the healing effect of doing that album. The tunes’ titles are illustrative of his experiences: Fire in the Hole, and Tunnel Rat: (Flashlight and a 45) to name two. Eventually he had to stop visiting the country, after it became overwhelming.

Here is an anecdote that demonstrates his courage, quick instincts, and his ability to improvise, that he possessed and used in Viet Nam and as a musician: One night during the late 1980s, he had been hanging out at a Lower East Side joint, The Neither Nor Bookstore, with a friend. After the place closed, they went for a bite to eat. As they were walking in the wintry night, a skinhead-type resented that he was with a white woman, and began to hassle him, and threatened to fight Billy. Billy kicked off his loafers and pulled out a gun to let the skinhead know what’s up. The skinhead backed off and fled. Billy and his friend then got into a cab and off the streets. His friend asked him why he kicked off his shoes. Reason: since the sidewalk was icy, he would have better traction with his socks than with the smooth soles of his loafers.


This is a chart for moment of Billy's passing as recorded by Maria Arias. The five planets in Aries oppose his Libra Stellium. They should not be viewed as being the cause of his passing as much as coinciding or punctuating the final stages of his life.

Here are the aspects for his passing, which occurred on April 11, 2011 in Harlem. Maria Arias, his partner, was with him. About his last moments she said: “I was sitting with him…breathing with him…his breathing got irregular and began to be less and less and the last one at 7:30pm and then no more. We were listening to Moments for the Kia Mia…over and over and over again. It was beautiful. Peaceful. Really Peaceful.” …Kia Mia - Killed in Action, Missing in Action from his Aftermath album. It was often played at concerts, becoming a signature piece. Its continually flowing melody gently yet powerfully unfolds. It was fitting that he listened to such a tune while breathing his last, almost as a mantra or prayer.
Please check it out:


This was the piece that I was commissioned to do for Billy, and presented to him at the Vision Festival in 2010. The center was featured on his Sweet Space album, which came out in 1979. For this version, I added more violin elements.

The Progressed charts for his passing are not shown.

First, Astro-Jargon, then the interpretation will follow…
PROGRESSIONS: Secondary Jupiter conjunct natal Moon, Primary Venus conjunct natal Moon, which was 5° Sagittarius 00’: these three planets, Venus, Jupiter to the Moon, in combination or singly are often found in cancer cases, because they foment growth and production, and with cancer the cells produce in overdrive. Secondary Neptune at 12° Libra 13’, conjunct natal Mercury at 13° Libra 37’: although this is “wide” for progressions, this along with other aspects to his natal Mercury can be indications for cancer (Neptune) and the lungs (Mercury). Primary Mars, at 26° Virgo 50’, conjoins Billy’s natal Sun within 21’. His natal Mars was square the MC/IC axis, by 59’, which gives the Primary axis a square to his natal Sun, suggesting significant tension to his vitality. Secondary Uranus retrograde at 25° Gemini 07’, widely squares his natal Sun, as well, furthering tensions to the vitality.

TRANSITS: The relevant aspects: Saturn is conjunct his natal Mercury in the same degree, 13° Libra along with the Neptune conjunction to natal Mercury, this adds to his lungs’ difficulties; there is a stellium in Aries opposite his natal Libra stellium (3 or more planets in a sign or house; in this case there are 5 planets including Mars in Aries); a retrograde Mercury and Jupiter in an applying conjunction, both at 17° Aries, that also opposes his natal Mercury and transiting Saturn, and tightly conjoins Primary Pluto at 17° Libra 26’. These aspects between the Aries/Libra stelliums at the time of his passing triggered his ongoing condition. He had been sick with lung cancer for some time, and well before his passing people close to him knew he was not going to live much longer. Indeed, I was commissioned to make art to be presented to him at the Vision Festival in 2010 as a surprise. Uranus in a tight opposition to Venus, each at 1° Aries/Libra, respectively. This aspect within the context of the others, adds to the termination of his life. Uranus in Aries = sudden, upsetting event to steadiness and balance of Venus in Libra.

When I first met Billy Bang in 1978, it was just after the end of the Loft Period of Free Jazz, and it was certainly a “Free” Period, socially, musically, and artistically! After that period, there were hip joints, some ran by musicians: Sam River’s Studio Riv Bea, Rashied Ali’s Ali’s Alley, Joe Lee Wilson, and Monty Water’s The Lady’s Fort. And some were run collectively or by club owners, like Studio We, and my favorite, The Tin Palace. I was honored when Billy commissioned me to do the cover for his album, Sweet Space, produced by Anima Records in 1979. At the time I was working on a series, Bass Men (from outer bass), pieces that were made from bass bridges and carved stone heads. I mounted one of those on a violin top. Later, when The Vision Festival commissioned me to do a piece for Billy, I used that and other elements from violins. Thank you Billy for your inspiration!
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