Behind the Italo-American pseudonym Billy Lorento hides Willi Lorenz Stich, born on March 24th 1931 in Wahn-Heide, a couple of kilometers south of Cologne, Germany. Stich, who in his early artist years used names like Bela Lorentowsky to give himself an East European touch, was one of the most famous jazz soloists in Germany in the fifties. That wasn’t his only talent; he had enough electronics knowledge to design different kinds of pickups and circuits.
Billy Lorento started working with Framus in 1953: in the following years this collaboration resulted in diverse signature models, from the exotic solid wood Thinline to the low budget solid body models. Model 5/120, which was manufactured in the beginning, is now one of the most sought-after collectibles. This thinline electric guitar is not only a valuable, high quality, technically mature handmade instrument with beautiful optical characteristics, it was also the very first Framus signature model. Framus always kept Billy Lorento models in their catalog till the seventies, and the latest one being the semi-acoustic electric guitar 07301, which was played by Volker Kriegel, among others.
Lorento, who was also a member of the Framus String Band, moved later to the United States. He first worked with Gibson®, then with Dan Armstrong, apparently also modified a Strat® for Jimi Hendrix - and eventually became independent. And this time under another name: Bill Lawrence!