Billy Hinsche—of Dino, Desi & Billy, Beach Boys Fame—Dead at 70

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Billy Hinsche (Photo from his Facebook page)

Billy Hinsche, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who enjoyed brief fame in the mid-’60s with the pop-rock trio Dino, Desi and Billy—died Nov. 20, 2021, after a short battle with lung cancer. The group, whose biggest hit was 1965’s “I’m a Fool,” which peaked at #17 in Billboard, included Dean Paul Martin, the son of singer-actor Dean Martin, and Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of actor-musician Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Hinsche was 70; no place of death was reported.

According to a report on the site ExtraTV.com, Hinsche’s 96-year-old mother died on the same day.

In addition to his time with DD&B, Hinsche also worked closely with the Beach Boys, touring with the group on guitar and keyboards beginning in 1971. He stayed with them until 1977, then returned in 1982 and continued to work with the band into the late ’90s.

left to right: Dean Paul Martin, Desi Arnaz Jr., and Billy Hinsche in 1965

Unlike the others in Dino, Desi and Billy, Hinsche was not the son of show business royalty, although his father owned a casino. He was born William Hinsche in Manila, The Philippines, on June 29, 1951, and relocated with his family to Beverly Hills, where he met the other two boys who would co-found the trio. With the help of Frank Sinatra, whose company Reprise Records counted Dean Martin among its roster of artists, DD&B were signed to the label and released their first single, “Since You Broke My Heart,” in late 1964. “I’m a Fool” followed in the spring of ’65 and brought the group quick fame as teen idols, but they were unable to maintain their success. Another 1965 single, “Not the Lovin’ Kind,” reached #25 but after that they were unable to crack the top 50, although their records still charted into 1968.

After the trio’s breakup in 1969, Hinsche continued his college education, graduating in 1974 while contributing to the Beach Boys’ live shows and recordings, including such albums as Holland, Love You, M.I.U. Album and L.A. (Light Album). His sister, Annie, married the Beach Boys’ guitarist Carl Wilson.

Related: Our review of the Beach Boys’ Feel Flows boxed set

Hinsche later became a valued session musician and vocalist, contributing to recordings by Elton John, Joan Jett, Warren Zevon and others.

Dino Martin died in a plane crash in 1987.

Watch Dino, Desi and Billy perform “I’m a Fool” on The Ed Sullivan Show

The sisters of the other two members of the trio were among those expressing their sadness.

Related: Musicians and others we’ve lost in 2021

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  1. Lorelei
    #1 Lorelei 21 November, 2021, 04:55

    That’s so weird! I just saw Billy Hinsche being interviewed about Dean Martin, then I came on here and found out that he had passed away. I was a kid but I remember liking Dino, Desi, and Billy. And I remember how broken hearted Dean Martin was when Dino died, it was so sad.

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  2. geo5751
    #2 geo5751 21 November, 2021, 12:28

    Very sad news . . I met Billy at the Cannery in North Las Vegas quite a while back, at an oldies concert. He wasn’t performing but he was chatting with everyone who went up to him, and was really nice, posing for photos. Really knew a lot about music.

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  3. Alias Pink Puzz
    #3 Alias Pink Puzz 21 November, 2021, 12:46

    I saw him with the Beach Boys more than once. You will be missed Billy.

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