In 1977 Childish founded and sang in his first punk band, The Pop Rivets. At the same time, he released the punk fanzine Chatham’s Burning. In 1981 he learnt to play the guitar and founded The(e) Milkshakes, his most successful band to date, with blues and rock’n’ roll influences that stand in sharp contrast to his first punk band.
All the releases from his numerous other bands, several of which he fronted, were solely on independent labels, as was the case for his solo projects and his collaboration with British singer-songwriter Holly Golightly.
In 1986, Childish founded the label Hangman Records. As with Hangman Books, his publishing house, the label’s logo also incorporates a gallows. The groups he produced include British underground »musical gems« like The Len Bright Combo, The James Taylor Quartet, and The Prisoners, as well as Die Goldenen Zitronen.
More recently, he has been performing with his music project Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire, which he set up in 2005. With increasing regularity, however, he appears solo with a guitar and recites his poems between songs.