Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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WILLIAMS, Andy

(b Howard Andrew, 3 December 1928, Wall Lake IA; d ) U.S. pop singer with enormous success '50s-60s. Sang in church choir with three brothers; they worked on radio in Cincinnati and Chicago, backed Bing Crosby on no. 1 hit 'Swinging On A Star' '44, and appeared in a film about the music publishing industry Kansas City Kitty that year; formed act with headliner Kay Thompson for night clubs '47-8 (Thompson b 9 November 1909, St Louis; d 2 July 1998; married to trombonist Jack Jenny; appeared in film Funny Face '56; also wrote the Eloise books for children). A film mystery is the persisting story that Andy Williams dubbed Lauren Bacall's singing voice in To Have And Have Not '45. He went solo '52, was a regular on Steve Allen's Tonight TV show, signed to Archie Bleyer's Cadence label: 15 hits '56-61 incl. no. 1 'Butterfly' '57 (million-seller for Charlie Gracie too), top tens 'Canadian Sunset', 'I Like Your Kind Of Love' (duet with Peggy Powers), 'Are You Sincere', 'Lonely Street', 'In The Village Of St Bernadette'. He began on TV as a summer replacement '57 and his music/variety show became an institution until '71: he was a hard-working and exacting professional but came across as a relaxed and amusing host similar to Perry Como in USA, Val Doonican in UK. He was American Variety Club's Personality of the Year '59, won an Emmy for Best Variety Show '62; the show inflicted the Osmonds on the nation. He appeared in film I'd Rather Be Rich '64.

As a recording artist his romantic ballads were sung with great control; he was less effective up-tempo. Switched to Columbia '61, by then a major artist; his total of 45 Hot 100 singles through '72 included only two more top tens: 'Can't Get Used To Losing You' (by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, no. 2 '63) and '(Where Do I Begin) Love Story' (no. 9 '71, theme from smash weepie film). Over 30 hit albums included twelve in the top ten of the album chart: no. 1 Days Of Wine And Roses '63 included no. 26 hit title track (by Henry Mancini) as well as the no. 2 hit; Moon River And Other Great Movie Themes '62 reached no. 3. Apparently Cadence hadn't wanted to put out 'Moon River' as a single, thinking the words were corny; it was at that point Williams switched to Columbia, sang the song on the Academy Awards show and the next day his Columbia album took off like a rocket: he was subsequently more closely identified with that song than any of his hit singles. He appeared on TV with Mancini.

His album Love Story '73 also reached no. 3. He appeared in film I'd Rather Be Rich '64 with Sandra Dee, Robert Goulet and Maurice Chevalier (remake of It Started With Eve '42); song 'Almost There' from the film was a minor U.S. hit but no. 2 in UK, where he had eight top ten hits. His record success was very much connected with TV popularity and dried up when the show ended; his last minor hit was 'Tell It Like It Is' '76. His twin nephews Andy and David had minor hit 'What's Your Name' '74 on his Barnaby label. He was one of the first mainstream entertainers to develop Branson Missouri as a destination for graying fans, building his own theatre so that he didn't have to be identified with straight country acts.