William Shakespeare (19 November 1948 - 5 October 2010) was the stage name of Australian Glam rock singer John Stanley Cave, also known as John Cabe or Billy Shake. He had two Australian hit singles, "Can't Stop Myself from Loving You" which peaked at No. 2 on the Kent Music Report in 1974 and "My Little Angel" which peaked at No. 1 in 1975. Both hits were written by Vanda & Young, who also groomed Shakespeare into a Glam rocker.
Shakespeare was born as John Stanley Cave in 1948 and grew up in Sydney, New South Wales.
He was vocalist for beat music group, The Amazons, with Nick Barlow on guitar, Harry Brus on bass guitar, Chris Carroll on guitar and Dally Carroll on drums. In 1966, they released a single, "Ain't that Lovin' You Baby". After The Amazons, Shakespeare continued performing in Sydney clubs as Johnny Cabe. In early 1974, Shakespeare was in Albert Studios where noted Australian producers/songwriters Vanda & Young (ex-The Easybeats) were recording "Can't Stop Myself from Loving You" for another singer who was unable to reach its high notes.
Cave's falsetto voice was suitable so Vanda & Young signed him to Albert Productions and groomed him into William Shakespeare as a glam rocker along the lines of Alvin Stardust or Gary Glitter. "Can't Stop Myself from Loving You" was released as a single in July and peaked at No. 2 nationally (No. 1 in Sydney & Melbourne) Kent Music Report. Another Vanda & Young/Albert Productions act was hard rock group, AC/DC who were looking for a new lead singer, on the short-list were: Shakespeare, John Paul Young and eventual vocalist Bon Scott.
In 1974, in the planning stages for the ABC-TV series Countdown, it was suggested that Shakespeare host the show. However, this was rejected, with Ian Meldrum becoming a regular contributor instead. A number of guest hosts such as Shirley Strachan, John Paul Young and Daryl Braithwaite compered the show in its early days on an ad hoc basis.
In November 1974, Shakespeare released his debut album, Can't Stop Myself From Loving You, produced by Vanda & Young for Albert Productions. The album peaked in the top 30 on the Kent Music Report.
His second single, "My Little Angel" followed in December and peaked at No. 1 on the Kent Music Report for three weeks in February 1975 and he became a national pop star. Shakespeare appeared on teen-orientated Countdown in his glam rock costume numerous times. The two singles and album were followed by two more singles, "Just the Way You Are" in April and "Last Night" in May 1976, but he had no further Top 50 charting success.
In 1975 Cave was convicted of carnal knowledge with a 15-year-old girl from his Melbourne fan club, he received two years probation. He left Albert Productions in 1977 and had no further recordings--his pop music career was over due to his conviction and changes in music styles.
In 1978, Shakespeare, who had an alcohol addiction and clinical depression, was treated with Deep Sleep Therapy (in combination with electroconvulsive therapy and other therapies) by Dr Harry Bailey at the Chelmsford Private Hospital for three weeks. From 1979 he performed as Billy Shake in Sydney clubs but generated little income. A temporary revival of his singing career occurred in 1990 when Melbourne listeners of 3MMM voted "My Little Angel" as the Daggiest song of their generation and a cover version was provided by The Melody Lords.
Decline and death:
By 2001, Shakespeare was homeless and lived in a ticket booth at an oval next to St George's Leagues Club in Kogarah, where he was found and assisted by Lindy Morrison (ex-The Go-Betweens drummer) of Support Act Limited, a company concerned with assisting artists in hard times. In 2009, he was living in government housing in the southern Sydney suburb of Riverwood.
He died suddenly in Sydney on 5 October 2010. Many fond tributes to William Shakespeare's life and music appeared in the Australian media just after his death became known.