Billy Williams

b. 28 December 1910, Waco, Texas, USA, d. 17 October 1972. Williams formed the very successful gospel group the Charioteers in the early 30s while studying theology at Wilberforce College, Ohio. The group had regular radio spots in Cincinnati and New York and worked with Bing Crosby on the west coast. In the 40s they had seven hits of their own and also charted with Frank Sinatra. In 1949 Williams left and formed the Billy Williams Quartet with Eugene Dixon (bass), Claude Riddick (baritone) and John Ball (tenor). The group were often seen on television including over 160 appearances on Sid Caesar’s Your Show Of Shows. They recorded with little impact for Mercury Records and MGM Records before joining Coral Records in 1954 and after a few unsuccessful covers of R&B hits the group collected nine US chart entries. The biggest of these was a revival of Fats Waller’s ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Right Myself A Letter’: a US Top 3 and UK Top 30 hit in 1957. The jazzy R&B artist sadly lost his voice, owing to diabetes, in the early 60s. He moved to Chicago where he became a social worker, employed on a model cities project and helping alcoholics until his death in 1972.

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