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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Age is Just a Number When it Comes to Music

Wrentham Guitarist Reflects on Career and Looks Ahead

By Grace Allen
They say musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them. Bill Trainor would agree with that. The 77-year-old Wrentham resident still plays his guitar every day, and if you want to hire him for any gigs, he’s ready to go.
Aging Baby Boomers like Trainor just won’t quit. Take Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks…the list goes on and on of “senior” musicians still performing. And why not, asks Trainor. 
“Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re done with music,” he said. “Once it’s in your blood, you just keep going.”
Music has been in Trainor’s blood for a very long time. When he was six, his parents bought him a Roy Roger child’s guitar. By the time he was eight, he had upgraded to a real guitar his parents purchased from a pawn shop for $32. And when he was 13, he formed a band called the Rhythm Masters and started playing gigs. 
But it was during senior year of high school that it really came together for Trainor. He started another band, the Shadows Four, which became one of the biggest Boston-based garage bands of its time. In the mid-1960s, the Shadows Four was the first band to play at the Music Hall (now the Boch Center) in Boston’s theatre district. The performance was so successful that the venue began holding rock concerts as a new way to draw in crowds.
The Shadows Four toured during the summer of 1965, playing theatres all over New England. They played at drive-ins, too, setting up their equipment on the roof of concession stands, performing until the movies started at dusk. They also went on tour with the beach party film, “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.”
They were even hired to play the breaks between sets for Bo Diddley, when the performer played at Harvard University.
“He was terrible and they asked us if he could play our breaks instead,” recounted Trainor. “I said no, you hired him, he’s the star.”
Trainor entered the Marine Corps later that year, during the Vietnam War, and went on to learn electronics through the military. When he was discharged, his training enabled him to embark on a long career. He worked for several companies through the years, until he retired in 1998 from Meditech, a medical software company.
But, like time, the beat went on, sometimes in the background, sometimes front and center.
Trainor met his wife, Peggy, on a blind date, and it turned out she was musical too. The two formed yet another band, Breeze, a function band that played at weddings, with Peggy as the lead singer. Breeze went through several drummers, says Trainor, including Paul Caruso, who went on to play for the Boston-based band the Atlantics, and Ronny Stewart, who performed with Joe Perry of Aerosmith. A high school friend, Dave Henneberry, also played the drums for Breeze. In 2013, Henneberry was the Watertown homeowner who discovered Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, hiding in his boat.
Trainor, who has lived in Wrentham with his family since 1986, had remained friends with his Shadows Four high school band. In the late 1970s, two of the friends were performing on “Boomtown,” the Western-themed children’s television show hosted by Rex Trailer and filmed in the Boston area at the WBZ-TV studios. Before the start of the show’s last season, the guitar player in the “Boomtown” band left and Trainor was asked to fill in.
“Rex Trailer was a great guy,” reflected Trainor. “He’d sit with us before all the shows and tell us stories. He was a real cowboy, having grown up on a ranch in Oklahoma. He loved doing the show and he loved the kids. Just a fabulous, fabulous guy.”
Up until the pandemic, Trainor had always been in a band, at one point playing in five different bands at the same time. The last band he played with was called Back in Time, which he’d been a part of for over 25 years. The group played every year for 13 years at the July 4 fireworks celebration in Waltham, to crowds of 10-15,000 people.
Trainor even taught guitar lessons after he retired, teaching up to 20 students a week. 
Now, however, he mostly plays for himself, his kids, or his grandkids. Every night, while he watches TV, he picks away on an electric guitar that sits by his chair. But is he finished performing? No way, he says.
“My equipment, my PA system, my stand and stuff, are still in the trunk of my car. If somebody called today, I could drive right up to their house, set up, and play. I’m ready at the drop of a hat to perform.”
Trainor, who still has every guitar he’s used in his life—about 25—said he’ll never retire from music until he’s forced to. 
He reflected, “I tell people, don’t ever stop.”