McKinney, William "Bill"(born: 1895 - died: 1969)
Drummer William B. McKinney was born and died in Cynthiana, KY. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I, then played with a circus band before settling in Springfield, OH, where he formed the Synco Jazz Band around 1921.
McKinney quit drumming around 1923 and became the group's manager. The band was renamed McKinney's Cotton Pickers around 1926, performing regularly at the Graystone Ballroom in Detroit, MI. The band also had comedy routines incorporated into their performances. Considered the best of the rival bands of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, they were one of the first African American bands to play on national radio.
Up until the early 1940s, the group continued performing with various musicians and in various locations, including Harlem. Their recordings include songs such as Gee, Ain't I Good to You?, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight, and Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble.
McKinney did not secure any wealth from his many years as a musician, band leader, and manager. Before returning to Cynthiana, he worked as a hotel bellhop and at other low wage jobs in Detroit.
For more see "William (Bill) McKinney" in vol. 5 of African American National Biography, edited by H. L. Gates, Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham; McKinney's Cotton Pickers in the Synchopated Times Red Hot Jazz Archive; and the band's entry in Oxford Music Online (database).