Billy Hinsche, Co-Founder of Dino, Desi & Billy and Longtime Beach Boy, Dies of Cancer at 70
Musician Billy Hinsche, who started his career in the trio Dino, Desi & Billy, and ended it as a longtime touring member of The Beach Boys, has died. He was 70.
Hinsche died on Saturday, Nov. 20, of giant cell carcinoma — the same day his 95-year-old mother Celia died in hospice, according to childhood friend Lucie Arnaz.
"One of the finest humans, friends, storytellers and musicians, on the entire planet just went home to rest. Billy Hinsche had died. 70 years young," Arnaz, who said she and Hinsche were "like brother and sister," wrote on Instagram. "He had never stopped working as a musician. Played with every incarnation of The Beach Boys for decades. And, during COVID, performed a wonderful show each and every week from his home in Henderson, NV called 'Billy's Place.'"
In the '60s, Hinsche formed a rock group with Arnaz's brother Desi Arnaz Jr. and Dino Martin Jr., with whom he released four albums. The group enjoyed hits like "I'm a Fool" and "Not the Lovin' King," and toured as an opening act for bands like The Beach Boys and Paul Revere & The Raiders before headlining their own shows.
Arnaz wrote that Hinsche's illness "ravaged him like an out of control train," while Beach Boy Mike Love said that very few of his friends "knew the seriousness of his illness… Billy, right up until his last couple of months, didn't let on to how serious his condition was."
Hinsche was born in Manila in the Philippines and raised in Beverly Hills, where he took up piano at just 5 years old, and guitar seven years later, according to his website.
He began recording and touring with The Beach Boys in the '70s, and had performed with them ever since, making a series of documentaries throughout the years about his time working with the legendary group.
Hinsche — who also provided background vocals to classic songs like Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" — released his first solo album in 2003, and during the pandemic, produced a show called Live from Billy's Place, which he streamed weekly.
Love paid tribute to his late collaborator on Twitter, writing: "We lost a great friend, family member, and forever member of The Beach Boys on Saturday."
"All of us who had the pleasure of knowing him will miss his jovial nature and immense talent and sense of humor," Love continued. "Billy was a loving son to his mother Celia who incredibly passed Saturday as well."
Arnaz confirmed that Hinsche and his mother died within six hours of each other, writing: "It is heartening to imagine them, hand in hand, heading into eternity."
Love's fellow Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine also paid tribute to Hinsche, with each sharing a photo to Twitter.