A dear friend passed away this week. Andre Williams. He was a legend. He was the most complex man I’ve ever met. He had an explosive personality and his talent as a performer, writer, and producer influenced generations. He was an R & B singer born in Alabama and raised by his Aunts after his mother died when he was just 6 years old. He ended up finding his way to Detroit in the 1950s and was first recorded at Fortune Records in the 1950’s. His hits included “Bacon Fat, Jail Bait, Greasy Chicken and Cadillac Jack”. He co-wrote “Shake a Tail Feather” which was a hit record and made it on the Billboard Charts. He co-wrote Stevie Wonders first hit, “Thank you For Loving Me”. He moved on to Chess Records in the 1960’s and produced Ike Turner ,as well as many others, along with releasing more of his own material.
I met Andre later in his life when he recorded the album “Red Dirt” in 1999 with The Sadies , who were both on Bloodshot records at the time. It was released in 2000 and remains one of my favorites. In the studio he would tell the guys… I want it to sound like this…. “da da da da…dadadadadada”. They knew exactly what he meant.
Andre Williams, after being homeless for a time in the ‘80’s ,with a nasty drug habit, had returned at the end of the 1990’s and he did not look back.
The Sadies maintained a life long relationship with Andre and toured Europe in 2006 with him which included playing The Roskilde Festival in Denmark and playing at a Hospital for The Criminally Insane all in one week. An unforgettable time.
Along with his music, Andre Williams knew how to dress. He had so much style and owned more clothes than anyone I have ever met.
I have fond memories of Andre descending our stairs in a fire engine red suit where everything matched and he beamed as my eyes popped out of my head and my jaw hit the floor.
He was in a red jacket, vest, shirt, pants, belt, shoes and topped off with a red Fedora and a big flashy smile.
The next day he would be a vision in mustard… or green… or yellow. He always matched and took such pride in his appearance. He was the real life version of Super Fly in the wardrobe department… only cooler.
Being a white Canadian girl from the suburbs I had never met anyone like him. He charmed every woman he ever met. He said some very provocative things but was always a gentleman. He had a way of getting inside of you and melting your heart.
I can’t believe that he is gone and I also can’t believe he made it to the age of 82. He roared through life full steam ahead. He did not believe in taking things slow.
We thought he was invincible and would always be around. Some people seem bigger than life. He was one of them.
Thank god he left so much music behind for us to listen to. Thank god for Andre’s voice and spirit and words. He was never one to shy from controversy as you will hear in his lyrics. He was a real revolutionary. So, my homage to Andre Williams is to pass on the gift of his music to you. If you have never heard of him…. Google him… seek out his recordings and enjoy one of the greatest of all time.