Clarence Williams

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Chart positions
Explanation of the data
'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
  R&BTemplate: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / country wrong 9 1924 (1 week)
Everybody Loves My Baby
  R&BTemplate: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / country wrong 10 1925 (1 week)
Cake Walkin 'Babies from Home
  R&BTemplate: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / country wrong 13 1925 (1 week)
Baby, won't you please come home
  R&BTemplate: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / country wrong 13 1927 (2 weeks)

Clarence Williams (born October 8, 1893 in Plaquemine , Louisiana , † November 6, 1965 in Queens , New York ) was an American jazz pianist, singer, composer and record producer, music publisher and agent.


Williams, who was of Native American ( Choctaw ) and Creole descent, was born in Plaquemine, near New Orleans. His father was a bassist who ran a small hotel, so Clarence Williams gained his first musical experience with performances in his parents' hotel and as a street musician . In 1906 Williams came to New Orleans. At the age of twelve he left home and went singing Billy Kersands' minstrelshow . Shortly thereafter, he took over the moderation of the group's performances.

After Williams returned to New Orleans, he started a suit cleaning company for the city's many style-conscious piano teachers. He played piano in the Honky-Tonks of Storyville Borough . In this legendary red-light district, Williams, who was not known for his reluctance, said he was heavily influenced by the influential ragtime pianist Tony Jackson , the composer of "Pretty Baby". Williams played during this time as a professional pianist with Sidney Bechet and Bunk Johnson .

Williams devoted much of his time to studying current trends in music and wrote regularly to New York to have the latest songs sent to him. During this time he founded his own cabaret and wrote his first commercially marketed composition Brownskin, Who You for? , which was released by Columbia Records . By his own admission, his fee of $ 1,600 for the song was the highest amount anyone in New Orleans had ever received for a song.

Around 1915, he and Armand Piron founded a music publishing company in New Orleans, which was to remain in business for several years. Piron was a bandleader whose most famous composition was the song I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate . In 1917 he put together a stage program with Williams, in which Piron played the violin and Williams appeared as a pianist and singer. During their performances they came in contact with W. C. Handy , who helped them sell some of their compositions in music stores in Memphis, Tennessee . When an important concert in Atlanta was moved from black to white audiences because so many whites were interested in the music, Handy asked Williams and Piron to work with him to further improve the program. The concert was a triumph and the New Orleans duo ended the tour so far.

Since then, Williams has claimed to have been the first songwriter to have used the word "jazz" on a printed sheet of music; his business cards referred to him from then on as "The Originator of Jazz and Boogie Woogie" ("The Originator of Jazz." and Boogie Woogie. "). Williams' partner in many songs of the time was Spencer Williams (who was not related to him, however). Her pieces I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None o 'This Jelly-Roll and Royal Garden Blues became classics of the Dixieland style.

After Storyville closed and the newer talent was now more likely to be found in northern cities, Williams moved from New Orleans to Chicago in 1920. He opened a music store here near the Vendome Theater, which proved so successful that he also owned two other music stores in town. That year, Mamie Smith recorded Perry Bradford's songs Crazy Blues and It's Right Here For You , and when the audience that first heard a black woman sing the blues wanted more of them, Williams saw a new business idea and began marketing recordings of black blues singers.

In 1921 Williams married the blues singer Eva Taylor . She was one of the first female blues singers to appear on the radio, her performance and style influencing many later singing stars. Among the songs she and her husband produced and performed was May We Meet Again , written “In Memory of Our Dear Florence Mills, ” one of the most popular black stage stars of the time.

Williams recognized the market potential for selling New Orleans music up north, and since New York City was the center of the music industry, he sold his Chicago music stores in 1923 and moved there. He rented rooms in the Gaiety Theater building on Broadway, in which other Afro-American entertainers, including Bert Williams , Will Vodery , Pace and Handy and Perry Bradford , had already settled, and took part with Bessie in February of the same year Smith at Columbia made the first records. In 1929 he also played " Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out " with her .

Soon other New Orleans musicians were working with him, including James P. Johnson and Fats Waller . Williams was artist and repertoire director for Okeh Records from 1923 to 1928 and was constantly discovering new talent. During this time he organized numerous sessions and thus promoted the careers of many greats of early jazz such as Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. He hired jazz musicians Don Redman , King Oliver and Coleman Hawkins, among others .

Between 1923 and 1937, Williams became a recognized producer, organizing at least two recording sessions a month and recording over 300 records under his own name. One of his peculiarities was to record a piece with one company and, if he didn't like the results, record the same session with another company under a different name. Two of the pseudonyms he used are the Dixie Washboard Band and the Blue Grass Foot Warmers.

In 1927 Williams made his first attempts at music theater . He wrote the book and music for the show Bottomland , in which his wife Eva Taylor starred. The show was not a great success, but his other business was flourishing; He continued his business until 1943 and then sold his collection of over 2,000 songs to the Decca company for the sum of approximately $ 50,000.

From the late 1930s to 1956, Williams spent most of his time composing new pieces. In 1956 he was hit by a taxi in an accident and went blind as a result. The actor Clarence Williams III is his grandson.


Web links

References and comments

  1. All plates 78er. Individual references for US Billboard Black: Gerhard Klußmeier: Jazz in the Charts. Another view on jazz history. Liner notes and booklet for the 100 CD edition. Membrane International, ISBN 978-3-86735-062-4 .
  2. There are also the information about 1889 or 1898. B. Thomas Morgan: From Cakewalks to Concert Halls . Bohländer: Reclam's jazz guide writes October 8, 1893
  3. Will Friedwald relativizes the importance of Eva Taylor for the development of the blues style; her "singing style had next to nothing to do with the blues, and it is doubtful that she would have ever recorded if she had not married Clarence Williams." Will Friedwald : Swinging Voices of America - A Compendium of Great Voices . Hannibal, St. Andrä-Wierter 1992, ISBN 3-85445-075-3 , p. 19.