He was 69.
Wilson pounded the skins for the Kings in the 1950s. They are considered one of the first rock bands in El Paso. He might have been the first rock drummer in El Paso.
"Billy was the first rock 'n' roll drummer I ever saw," said Dalton Powell, former drummer of the Bobby Fuller Four. "He was probably the first actually out there playing in El Paso."
Powell remembers seeing Wilson behind the drums at weekly teen dances the Kings played at Fort Bliss.
"He was one of my first inspirations to play. He was a great guy," Powell said.
That's a sentiment expressed by other local music figures, including Tim Thompson, choral director at El Paso High School, who played with Wilson in the band City Limits in the 1980s.
"We immediately just became like brothers. He was an incredible guy ... He'd just do anything for anybody. He was that kind of guy," Thompson said, adding "a lot of people are torn up about this."
Wilson's death came shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his wife said.
"He didn't have any symptoms," widow Alma Jean Wilson said.
But the cancer was detected after a doctor's visit in October, she said. Wilson declined further treatment after one round of chemotherapy, according to Rick Kern, a local music historian who runs the Web site www.musiciansofelpaso.com.
Kern said Wilson attended, but did not perform at, the first Border Legends Jam in October, where rock musicians from the '60s and '70s shared the stage.
"He looked good," Kern said.
In addition to the Rock Kings and City Limits, Wilson was a go-to guy for name artists who needed a kitman in a hurry. He played fill-in stints with Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck and LeRoy Van Dyke.
He also declined an offer to join Austin steel guitarist extraordinaire Junior Brown's band, his wife said.
"He got Billy's name from some other musicians," she said.
She met Wilson during his tenure in City Limits. Their 14-year relationship - they were married the last three - started with a crush.
"I was so dog gone bashful back then that the guys would go up to the bar to get drinks and he'd go, 'Hi, how are you?,' and I'd say 'I'm fine' and turn around," she recalled.
She said the generosity to which Thompson referred carried over into her husband's business life. He's run City Limits Sewer and Drain Service for more than 20 years.
"My younger son went on a job with him and there was an older lady who couldn't pay them any more, so she gave them some cookies," she said. "He would do that. If people couldn't afford it, especially some of the older people, he wouldn't charge."
A benefit concert, announced last week, to help defray Wilson's mounting medical bills will go on as planned, Kern and Thompson said.
It's at 3 p.m. Nov. 30 at the American Legion Hall, 3720 Shell, just off Montana near Airway Blvd., and will include many of Wilson's friends and fellow musicians.
"He didn't have any insurance or anything," Thompson said.
Funeral arrangements were pending and are being handled by Mt. Carmel Funeral Home.
Wilson, who served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army in the 1960s, probably will be buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery, his widow said.
He is survived by son Rick Olds and daughters Kisha Woody and
Crystal Dawn Wilson, and stepsons Charles Lonewolf Crews and
Marvin Dale Crews.