Ginn, William O. [Bill] (1951–2004)

By: Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: Biography

Published: August 7, 2014

Font size: A / A reset

William O “Bill” Ginn, pianist and arranger, was born in Mississippi on October 21, 1951. He moved to Texas and attended the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1970s and graduated with a degree in jazz theory and composition in 1974. Ginn was a member of the notable Austin jazz fusion band Passenger, which included guitarist Mitch Watkins and bassist Roscoe Beck. During the late 1970s and into the early 1980s Passenger toured and recorded with singer–songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Heralded as a talented pianist and arranger across multiple musical genres, Ginn worked with singer Jennifer Warnes on her acclaimed album Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1987), and he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) for one of the songs on the record. He toured with Warnes and Cohen during the 1980s and 1990s. He also recorded and performed with Joe Ely during the 1980s. Ginn was noted for his musical arrangements for such artists and groups as Stephen Bruton, Carole King, Alejandro Escovedo, and Asleep at the Wheel. In 1993 he served as musical director of Leonard Cohen’s United States and Canadian tour. He also composed film scores, and his projects included The Man with Two Brains (1983) and Winter People (1989).

Suffering from hepatitis C, Ginn left Texas and moved back to Mississippi in 2001. He died of liver failure on October 8, 2004, in Lexington, Mississippi. Of her musical colleague, Jennifer Warnes reflected, “Bill had a love of beauty….Musically, he could match you emotion for emotion.”

Austin American–Statesman, October 9, 2004; March 31, 2009. William O. Ginn Papers, MS 256, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Genres (Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and Rockabilly)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Laurie E. Jasinski, “Ginn, William O. [Bill],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 7, 2014

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: