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Andre Williams, R&B Singer/Songwriter & Trailblazer, Dies At 82
Born in Alabama in 1936, Andre Williams made his mark on Detroit's R&B music scene starting in the 1950s, co-writing classics such as "Shake Your Tail Feather" and recording R&B hits such as "Bacon Fat." Williams died on Sunday, March 17, of cancer at the age of 82, his family by his bedside while in hospice care in Chicago.
In the late '60s, Williams had two tracks chart on the Billboard Hot 100, "Pearl Time" and "Rib Tip's," followed shortly by "Cadillac Jack" on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. A man of multiple musical talents, Williams worked with many of Detroit R&B's innovators, including as an executive for Berry Gordy at Motown, where he worked creatively with Stevie Wonder and the Temptations.
Michigan Rock and Roll Legends' biography on Williams goes in depth on his interesting and experimental changes through the years, which also found him writing for Parliament and producing for Ike Turner. Williams even worked as roadie/manager for Edwin Starr in the 1960s.
In 2008, producer/director Tricia Todd released her documentary portrait Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year With Andre Williams. In the film, Williams recounts his rich history included early success at Detroit's Fortune Records, struggles with substance-abuse and homelessness in Chicago in the '80s and rededicating himself to his music career in the mid-'90s.
His manager Kenn Goodman told Billboard that despite more recent battles with illness, Williams, "Was committed to trying to sing and record again." His YouTube Vevo account features the single track "Blame It On Obama" from 2012, featuring his humorous talking-blues style, perhaps the best-known of his varied musical styles and considered by some music historians to be a precursor to rap.