Par dion1 le 13 May 2010 à 06:35
The Billy Williams Quartet (New York City, NY)
(Part 1 : Biography, Video & Songs)
(Pictures update By Hans-Joachim)
Billy Williams (Lead)
John Bell (Tenor)
Claude Riddick (Bariton)
Eugene Dixon (Bass)
1950 - Longing / I Didn't Slip, I Wasn't Pushed, I Fell (MGM 10764)
1951 - The Room I'm Sleeping In / Music By The Angels, Lyrics By The Lord (MGM 10857)
1951 - I Won't Cry Anymore/ Gaucho Serenade (MGM 10928)
1951 - You Made Me Love You / Pretty Eyed Baby (MGM 10967)
1951 - (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai / The Wondrous Word (Of The Lord) (MGM 10998)
1951 - (It's No) Sin / It's Over (MGM 11066)
1951 - I'll Never Fail You / Busy Line (MGM 11117)
1952 - No Other Love / Callaway Went Thataway (MGM 11145)
1952 - Wheel Of Fortune / What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry? (MGM 11172)
1952 - Confetti / Don't Grieve, Don't Sorrow, Don't Cry (MGM 11184)
1952 - What You Don't Know Of Love / Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (MGM 11249)
1952 - Gaucho Serenade / (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai (MGM 11537)
1952 - Stay / Azure-Te (Paris Blues) (Mercury 5866)
1952 - It's Best We Say Goodbye / Who Knows (Mercury 5884)
1952 - That's What I'm Here For / Some Folks Do, Some Folks Don't (Mercury 5902)
1952 - Mad About 'Cha / I Don't Know Why (I Love You Like I Do) (Mercury 70012)
1953 - Pour Me A Glass Of Teardrops / It's A Miracle (Mercury 70094)
1953 - This Side Of Heaven / You're The One For Me (Mercury 70180)
1953 - Cattle Call / A Smile For Suzette (Mercury 70210)
1953 - If I Never Get To Heaven / Ask Me No Questions (Mercury 70271)
1954 - I'll Close My Eyes / I've Got An Invitation To Dance (Mercury 70324)
1954 - You're The Only One I Adore Go Home Joe (Mercury 70376)
1957 - Ask Me No Questions / I've Got An Invitation To Dance (Mercury 71187)
1954 - Sh-Boom / When Ever, Where Ever (Coral 61212)
1954 - The Honeydripper / Love Me (Coral 61264)
1955 - I Wanna Hug You, Kiss You, Squeeze You / Smoke from Your Cigarette (Coral 61363)
1955 - Fools Rush In / He Follows She (Coral 61346)
1955 - Wonderful, Wonderful One Glory Of Love (Coral 61462)
1955 - Learning to Love / Just A Little Bit More (Coral 61498)
1956 - Cry Baby / A Crazy Little Palace (Coral 61576)
1956 - Pray / You'll Reach Your Star (Coral 61639)
1956 - I Guess I'll Be On My Way / This Planet Earth (Coral 61684)
1956 - Don't Cry on My Shoulder / Shame, Shame, Shame (Coral 61730)
1956 - Stormy / Follow Me (Coral 61751)
1957 - The Pied Piper / Butterfly (Coral 61795)
1957 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter / Date With The Blues (Coral 61830)
1957 - Got A Date With An Angel / The Lord Will Understand (Coral 61886)
1957 - Baby, Baby / Don't Let Go (Coral 61932)
1958 - Steppin' Out Tonight / There I've Said it Again (Coral 61961)
1958 - I'll Get By / It's Praying Time (Coral 61999)
1958 - So Long / It Hurts So Much (Coral 62029)
1958 - Nola / Tied To The Strings Of Your Heart (Coral 62069)
1959 - Red Hot Love / Goodnight Irene (Coral 62101)
1959 - Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep / Telephone Conversation (with Barbara McNair) (Coral 62131)
1959 - Smack Dab In The Middle / I Wonder (Coral 62140)
1960 - The Lover Of All Lovers / I Cried For You (Coral 62218)
1960 - Begin The Beguine / For You (Coral 62230)
1956 - MGM E-3400: Billy Williams Sings - Billy Williams Quartet
Gaucho Serenade / Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea / I Won't Cry Anymore / (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai / (It's No) Sin / Pretty Eyed Baby / Wheel Of Fortune / (What Can I Say) After I Say I'm Sorry / Don't Worry 'Bout Me / You Made Me Love You / Music By The Angels / In The Cool Of The Evening
1957 - Mercury MG-20317: "Oh Yeah!" It's Billy Williams - Billy Williams Quartet
An Invitation To Dance / It's Best We Say Goodbye / I'll Close My Eyes To The Rest Of The World / If I Never Get to Heaven / Ask Me No Questions / Cattle Call / A Smile For Suzette / This Side Of Heaven / Who Knows / Azure-Te / I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)
1959 - Mercury/Wing MGW-12131: Vote For Billy Williams - Billy Williams
I Don't Know Why / Azure-Te / Who Knows / You're The One For Me / This Side of Heaven / A Smile For Suzette / Cattle Call / You're The Only One I Adore / It's Best We Sat Goodbye / Mad About Cha / If I Never Get To Heaven / Ask Me No Questions
1957 - Coral 57184 : Billy Williams
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter / Butterfly / Follow Me / The Honeydripper / Glory Of Love / Cry Baby / A Crazy Little Palace / Fools Rush In / Love Me / Pray / When Ever, Where Ever / I Guess I'll Be On My Way.
1957 - Coral 57213 : Rock Around the Block - Alan Freed and his Rock & Roll Band featuring Buddy Holly, Billy Williams and the Modernaires
Two tracks by the Billy Williams Quartet: Don't Let Go and Baby Baby.
1959 - Coral 57251 : Half Sweet, Half Beat
Nola, I Wonder, Goodnight Irene, Four Or Five Times, The Little Boy, You Don't Know, A Kiss And A Rose, Smack Dab In The Middle, Dream Of You, Red Hot Love, Pour Me A Glass Of Teardrops, Walkin' By The River.
1960 - Coral 57343 : The Billy Williams Revue - featuring Billy Williams
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands - Billy Williams & Fats Hudson / I Cried For You - Billy Williams / Mack The Knife - Fats Hudson / Angel Eyes - Clora Bryant / South Of The Border - Don Nero / Over The Rainbow - Four Dukes / Begin The Beguine - Billy Williams / Blueberry Hill - Clora Bryant / Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home - Tommy Butler & Don Nero / Blues For The Q - Bob Bryant / I Was Telling Her About You - Skip Cunningham / Alright, Okay, You Win - Billy Williams
1956 - Gaucho Serenade / Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea / I Won't Cry Anymore / (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai (MGM X1305)
1956 - (It's No) Sin / Pretty Eyed Baby / Wheel Of Fortune / (What Can I Say) After I Say I'm Sorry (MGM X1306)
1956 - Don't Worry 'Bout Me / You Made Me Love You / Music By The Angels / In The Cool Of The Evening (MGM X1307)
1955 - This Side Of Heaven / You're The One For Me / Cattle Call / A Smile For Suzette (Mercury EP-1-3086)
1956 - I've Got An Invitation To A Dance / I'll Close My Eyes / If I Never Get To Heaven / Ask Me No Questions (Mercury EP 1-3219)
1957 - I'll Close My Eyes To The Rest Of The World / You're The One For Me / This Side of Heaven / I Don't Know Why (Mercury EP 1-3360)
1957 - I've Got An Invitation To Dance / It's Best We Say Goodbye / Ask Me No More Questions / Who Knows (Mercury EP 1-3364)
1957 - If I Never Get To Heaven / A Smile For Suzette / Cattle Call / Azure-Te (Mercury EP 1-3365)
1957 - Got A Date With An Angel / I Surrender, Dear / I'm Confessin' / So Long (Coral EP 81163)
By late 1949 after close to two decades as the front man for the group Billy Williams decided to call it quits with The Charioteers and form a new vocal quartet and give himself more of a say in matters musical and financial. The Charioteers lost their leader and also the long association with Columbia and were seldom heard from again.
The new foursome was the self named Billy Williams Quartet and with Billy were Eugene Dixon, Claude Riddick, and John Bell. They landed a guest spot on the television weekly called "The Admiral Saturday Night Revue" for the NBC television network. In May of 1950 MGM Records signs the group to its label and soon has appearances at New York's Roxy Theater and Blue Angel nightclub and they land a spot on the Henry Morgan radio show. In September the quartet is signed on as a regular feature of a revamped Saturday Night Revue show called "Your Show Of Shows" to star Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca for NBC.
They become one of the first Black performers to have a regular spot on a network variety show, and used a memorable opening with a dramatic lineup by the group as they led into their songs. Their television exposure helps the group as they spend the summer of 1951 doing an extended and well received stay in Los Angeles at the Tiffany Club. The quartet also has their first charted record during the summer with "Shanghai" on MGM #10998 that is a top twenty seller. As they begin their second year on the NBC tv show, their cover of the Four Aces "Sin" (MGM #11066) hits the pop charts.
In early 1952 the group ends their connection with MGM Records and moves over to Mercury. In the fall of the year Mercury #70012 is released. It does not make the pop charts but it is an influential record especially on the East coast. "Mad About 'Cha" is a hypnotic churning uptempo rocker that becomes almost manic in its climax, and the flip "I Don't Know Why" contains lovely harmonies quite reminiscent of Billy's days with The Charioteers. As they continue their TV run during 1953 for NBC, The Billy Williams Quartet makes the pop charts briefly with "Pour Me A Glass Of Teardrops" on Mercury #70094.
In person appearances at theaters and nightclubs continue for the group for much of the year. In June 1954 the group changes labels again, as they leave Mercury and sign on with Decca's subsidiary label Coral. The television run ends as "Your Show Of Shows" calls it quits after five years as a staple of Saturday night entertainment. The rock 'n roll age is almost upon America and the quartet recognizes this fact with a summer cover of The Chords "Sh-Boom" on Coral #61212.
Surprisingly it makes the top twenty best sellers list in August. In October the group goes to the R & B well with "The Honeydripper" on Coral #61264. The flip side is "Love Me", but nothing much happens with the record. In February of 1955 The Billy Williams Quartet is involved in one of the most original and historic relics of the first golden age of rock 'n roll. The quartet does two covers for Coral Records (on #61363) -
The Mellows "Smoke From Your Cigarette" and Buddy and Claudia's "I Wanna Hug Ya, Kiss Ya, Squeeze Ya". Now "Smoke" is just a straight forward version of the ballad by the group, but the raucous flip side of the hard edged rocker is complete with a full intro by Alan Freed, shouted comments during the blasting sax solo by Al Sears and charging guitar by Mickey Baker (to say nothing of the thumping tempo by Panama Francis) , clanging cowbell, etc.-in other words all the audio features of the original Moondog persona. It is two and a half minutes of a rock rarity in sound, and that the Billy Williams Quartet is the featured act is amazing.
A few more unsuccessful covers for Coral followed and by 1957 the quartet was no more. Billy hung on trying to make it as a solo performer without much luck until the summer of 1957. That's when Billy unearthed a tune written in 1936 called "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter", gave it a pop flavored delivery spiced with a few Timmie Rogers derived "oh yeahs", and lo and behold, a pop smash was hatched. It was incomprehensible, but there it was-a number three nationally, and close to five months on the pop charts.
(with Conchita Nikkitani)
Coral #61830 was huge, and it was at the right time for Billy to make history (and the answer to an all time trivia question) when he became the very first guest on the national telecast of American Bandstand. Summing up his life at that point, to Dick Clark's question of what was keeping him busy Williams answered slyly "oh yeah !" And so Billy Williams had done that very special characteristic of entertainers-the re-invention of oneself.
He followed up his huge and unexpected success with similar attempts - the old Hal Kemp-Skinnay Ennis tune "Got A date With An Angel" (Coral #61886) and the Vincent Lopez theme "Nola" on Coral #62069. Both charted briefly, and once again Billy Williams was adrift in the world of pop music. He kept at it even though such releases as "Good Night Irene" (#62101) and "Begin The Beguine" (# 62230) went nowhere. A duet with budding songstress Barbara McNair (#62131) also disappeared. And soon so did Billy Williams who became a fifties memory throughout the sixties.
This man whose vocal talents were featured for three decades unfortunately came to an inglorious end. In October of 1972 he passed away. He was living in a donated room in the basement of a church in Chicago, and city authorities could not find anyone to claim the body or to provide for a decent burial. He deserved better, but unfortunately his is not an isolated story (see the story of Dee Clark for example). But luckily for us, we have the music.
From the soaring tenor singing of The Charioteers, to the dramatic vocals of the Billy Williams Quartet, to the playful oldies of his solo days, Billy Williams was a true American original. Remember his music, and most of all, remember him.
Sh-Boom Smoke from Your Cigarette (What Can I Say) After I Say I'm Sorry?
A Crazy Little Palace Ask Me No Questions
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