Billy Burke was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, USA. He began singing at age nine, and joined a band at age fifteen. He continued to work with bands and study/performing drama at Western Washington University. He performed in Seattle at the Annex Theater, New City Festival, and the A.H.A. Theater, though it was as a musician, not an actor, that Burke first moved to Los Angeles. A demo deal with a major record label that didnt quite pan out, left him to explore the only other thing he knew he was good at. With two independent films shot in his native Seattle under his belt, he began auditioning and very soon working as an actor. He made his feature film debut in the independent film Daredreamer (1990). After a string of mostly bad guy with facial hair TV guest appearances, he landed his first studio picture role in the Zucker brothers genre spoof Mafia! (1998).