Wednesday, 20 March 2013

It's All About Larry Williams



Larry Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Larry Williams
Larry Williams.jpg
Background information
Birth nameLawrence Eugene Williams
BornMay 10, 1935
New OrleansLouisiana, United States[1]
OriginNew Orleans
DiedJanuary 7, 1980 (aged 44)
Los Angeles, CaliforniaInterment Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood California.[1]
GenresRock and roll
Rhythm and blues
Funk
Soul
OccupationsSinger, songwriter, pianist,producer
InstrumentsVocalspiano
Years active1954–1979
LabelsSpecialtyOkeh
Notable instruments
Piano
Lawrence Eugene "Larry" Williams (May 10, 1935 – January 7, 1980[1]) was an American rhythm and blues and rock and roll singer, songwriter, producer, and pianist from New Orleans, Louisiana. Williams is best known for writing and recording some rock and roll classics from 1957 to 1959 forSpecialty Records, including "Bony Moronie", "Short Fat Fannie", "High School Dance" (1957), "Slow Down", "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (1958), "Bad Boy" and "She Said Yeah" (1959), which were later covered by British Invasion groups and other artists.[2] John Lennon, in particular, was a fan of Williams, recording several of his songs over the course of his career. "Bony Moronie" is listed as one of the Top 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll.[3]
Williams lived a life mixed with tremendous success and violence-fueled drug addiction. He was a long-time friend of Little Richard.[4]

Contents

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[edit]Career

As a child in New Orleans, Williams learned how to play piano.[1] When he was a teenager, he and his family moved to Oakland, California, where he joined a local R&B group called the Lemon Drops.[1] In 1954, Williams went back to New Orleans for a visit. He began work as Lloyd Price's valet[1]and played in the bands of Price, Roy Brown and Percy Mayfield.[5] In 1955, Williams met and developed a friendship with Little Richard Penniman, who was recording at the time in New Orleans.[6] Price and Penniman were both recording for Specialty Records. Williams was introduced to Specialty's house producer, Robert Blackwell, and was signed to record.[1]
In 1957, Little Richard was Specialty's biggest star, but bolted from rock and roll to pursue the ministry. Williams was quickly groomed by Blackwell to try to replicate his success. Using the same raw, shouting vocals and piano-driven intensity, Williams scored with a number of hit singles.[1][6]
Williams' three biggest successes were "Short Fat Fannie", which was his first hit, reaching #5 in Billboard's pop chart, "Bony Moronie", which peaked at #14, and its flip "You Bug Me Baby" which made it to #45. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" charted at #69 on Billboard the following year. Both "Short Fat Fannie" and "Bony Moronie" sold over one million copies, gaining gold discs.[7]
Several of his songs achieved later success as revivals, by The Beatles ("Bad Boy", "Slow Down", and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"), The Rolling Stones ("She Said Yeah") and John Lennon ("Bony Moronie" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy").
Williams had been involved with underworld activity since his early teens, and had reputedly been a pimp before he ever recorded music. After 1957 Williams did not have much success selling records. He recorded a number of songs in 1958 and 1959, including "Heebie Jeebies", with band members such as Plas Johnson on tenor sax and Jewel Grant on baritone, Rene Hall on guitar, Gerald Wilson on trumpet, Ernie Freeman or Williams himself on piano, and Earl Palmer on drums. He was convicted of dealing narcotics in 1960 and served a three-year jail term, setting back his career considerably.[1]
Williams made a comeback in the mid-1960s with a funky soul band that included Johnny "Guitar" Watson, which paired him musically with Little Richard who had been lured back into secular music. He produced two Little Richard albums for Okeh Records in 1966 and 1967, which returned Little Richard to the Billboard album chart for the first time in ten years and spawned the hit single "Poor Dog".[8] He also acted as the music director for the Little Richard's live performances at the Okeh Club. Bookings for Little Richard during this period skyrocketed.[8] Williams also recorded and released material of his own and with Watson, with some moderate chart success. This period may have garnered few hits but produced some of his best and most original work.
Williams also began acting in the 1960s, appearing on film in Just for the Hell of It (1968), The Klansman (1974), and Drum (1976).[9]
In the 1970s, there was also a brief dalliance with disco, but Williams' wild lifestyle continued. By the middle of the decade, the drug abuse and violence were taking their toll. In 1977, Williams pulled a gun on and threatened to kill his long-time friend, Little Richard, over a drug debt. They were both living in Los Angeles and addicted to cocaine and heroin. Little Richard bought drugs from him, arranged to pay him later, but did not show up because he was high. Williams was furious. He hunted him down but ended up showing compassion on his long-time friend after Little Richard repaid the debt.[10] This, along with other factors, led to Little Richard's return to born again Christianity and the ministry, but Williams would not escape LA's seedy underworld.

[edit]Death

On January 7, 1980, Williams was found dead from a gunshot wound to his head in his Los Angeles, California home.[1] He was 44 years old. The death was deemed suicide, though there was much speculation otherwise.[1] No suspects were ever arrested or charged.

[edit]Martin Allbritton as Larry Williams

A Southern Illinois drummer and blues singer by the name of Martin Allbritton claims to be Larry Williams, alive and well. This claim originated at about the time Larry Williams was found dead. He did record and perform as a drummer for Bobby "Blue" Bland in the 1960s.[11] Albritton has toured the country performing under the moniker of "Big" Larry Williams, and has gone so far as to claim that he recorded the hits "Bony Moronie" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". He did record an album in 1990 called Street Party with the Mellow Fellows band, previously headed by Big Twist.[11]While touring with the Mellow Fellows in Chicago, Allbritton was confronted by Etta James, who knew Larry Williams.
Williams' family members have asked him to cease any future reference to "Larry Williams". Allbritton has so far refused, and presently continues to use the name.[12]

[edit]Selective list of recorded cover versions

[edit]Singles

  • 1966 "This Old Heart (Is So Lonely)" / "I'd Rather Fight Than Switch" (Okeh#7259)
  • 1967 Johnny Watson and Larry Williams - "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" / "A Quitter Never Wins" (Okeh#7274)
  • 1967 "You Ask For One Good Reason / "I Am The One" (Okeh#7280)
  • 1967 Johnny Watson and Larry Williams - "Too Late" / "Two For The Price Of One" (Okeh#7281)
  • 1967 "Just Because" / "Just Because" (Okeh#7294)
  • 1967 Johnny Watson and Larry Williams - "Find Yourself Someone To Love" / "Nobody" (Okeh#7300)

[edit]References

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k "Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  2. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Larry Williams". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  3. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
  4. ^ Charles A. White, The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography, Omnibus Press, 2003, page 186
  5. ^ "Larry Williams Page". Tsimon.com. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  6. a b White (2003), p. 77-78.
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 97. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  8. a b White (2003), p. 268.
  9. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0931116/
  10. ^ White (2003), p. 186.
  11. a b http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-4109223.html
  12. ^ Carbondalerocks.com

[edit]External links

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