Coakley is a Cleveland based drummer who was born in New York City in 1961. He moved to Cleveland in 1969.
It was after moving to Cleveland while in the third grade that he had a life changing encounter with the drums. He shares that he was watching an episode of Batman
in which Robin was wearing a wig and playing a drum solo when he found his calling as a drummer.
His early years were spent in private lessons and also playing in the high school band. After high school Billy went to study at Potomac State College in Keyser, West Virginia and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. At these two schools, he majored in music and performed in jazz band, orchestra, and percussion ensembles. Along this journey, Billy has participated in master classes and studied will Billy Hart, Tommy Campbell, Louie Bellson, Skip Hadden and his long time early teacher Dave Brewer.
All these individuals and experiences have been instrumental in helping Billy become one of the most inspiring drummers anywhere.
Billy's professional career as a performer and an educator got started in the early 80's playing in a variety of jazz, rock, and reggae bands. His ten years with the reggae band SATTA from 1985 to 1995 were some of the most exciting. During that time he released five records and toured nonstop through the United States, Europe, and Asia. He also appeared in an NBC Movie of the Week, the KEYS which aired in Spring of 1992.
However not one to sit idle, Billy is currently in one of Cleveland's hottest blues and rock power trios, the Armstrong Bearcat Band. Which, along with constant club dates and festivals, has shared the stage with the Allman Brothers, George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers, Little Feet, Johnny Winter, Blue Oyster Cult, Southside Johnny, Robin Trower, Tower of Power, and others. Billy, who is a committed Christian, is also a member of the music ministry at his home church, Community of Hope.
Billy is aslo teaching, doing solo performances, drum clinics, "Around the World With Drums" (a performance for young people), and a whole host of other musical projects.
Whether playing in front of 3000 people at a concert hall or 20 people in a youth assembly, Billy's powerful and inspirational drumming is a shining example of discipline, hard work, and a desire to share his gift for drumming with others.