Billy wrote two articles for his high school paper at Glenbard North in Chicago, both dated 1984. He wrote them in his junior year.
One article was dated in 1984, with no month or day cited. Billy, a record reviewer for the publication and also Features Editor, composed an article on Van Halen's 1984. He explained that he was disappointed with their latest two releases, but applauded their newest album and described his "shock, relief, happiness" for the record.
The second review he gave was more diverse. Billy decided to digress from his normal record reviews and analyze and predict the success of the new bands of the time. The article is dated June 6, 1984, which reveals that he wrote this near the end of his junior year in high school. At the time, Billy had predicted that U2, REM, and Metallica were the premier bands of the future.
Billy's science teacher, Walter Schearer, later recalled him as "relatively quiet" but his friends would claim he was outspoken. Schearer also remembered Billy as the "average Glenbard North honors student." According to Marlo Macaisa, one of Billy's closest high school friends, "In AP Bio, he cut the cat's tail off, put it in his back pocket, and walked around school like that." On a field trip for John Slusser's US History class to the Art Institute, Billy and his friend Pete Sallis trashed the bathroom with toilet paper.
His classmates frequently described Billy as unusual. "Billy wore untucked shirts, slanky clothes, and a smirk on his face when he spoke," recalled Dan Shaw.
Billy later commented on his old high school years, "I used music as an excuse, but the biggest factor was that I hated high school. I absolutely hated it. I thought it was this weird biosphere of envy, meanness, and jealousy. I went to visit a couple of friends at the University of Illinois. I looked around and thought this is high school times 10. It was around the time when I started getting weird hair cuts and I thought I was Mr. Alternative. I thought, I can't handle this. There's no way." He also felt that "You walk into high school with a pretty open mind, and you quickly realize where you exist on the food chain. This guy's cuter and this guy plays on the football team so he gets fucked even though he's ugly. You get a scheme of the world pretty fast."
Billy began playing the guitar at the young age of 15; his freshman year at Glenbard High. He discovered the use of power chords and he would practice alone in his room for hours at end at the conclusion of the school day.
He sported goth haircuts and listened to music that was yet to be popular and it made him become an outcast. His musical choices were Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, UFO, Cheap Trick, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles. All formed the roots of his musical influences.
Billy was a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant and played in the Glendale Heights park district basketball league. However, "all he ever concentrated on was his music. He didn't even think about school, even though he was so smart," said Marlo Macaisa, the good friend of Billy's. To protect his fingers for guitar playing, Billy quit the dishwashing job and the basketball league.
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