Clarence Williams

Clarence Williams

Profile:
American jazz pianist, composer, promoter, vocalist, theatrical producer, and publisher (October 8, 1898 – November 6, 1965).

Williams was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, ran away from home at age 12 to join Billy Kersand's Traveling Minstrel Show, then moved to New Orleans. At first Williams worked shining shoes and doing odd jobs, but soon became known as a singer and master of ceremonies. By the early 1910s he was a well regarded local entertainer also playing piano, and was composing new tunes by 1913. Williams was a good business man and worked arranging and managing entertainment at the local African-American vaudeville theater as well as various saloons and dance halls around Rampart Street, and clubs and houses in Storyville.

Williams started a music publishing business with violinist/bandleader Armand J. Piron 1915, which by the 1920s was the leading African-American owned music publisher in the country. He toured briefly with W.C. Handy, set up a publishing office in Chicago, then settled in New York in the early 1920s. In 1921, he married blues singer and stage actress Eva Taylor with whom he would frequently perform. He supervised African-American recordings (the 8000 Race Series) for New York offices of Okeh phonograph company in the 1920s in the Gaiety Theatre office building in Times Square. He recruited many of the artists who performed on that label. He also recorded extensively, leading studio bands frequently for OKeh, Columbia and occasionally other record labels.

He mostly used "Clarence Williams' Jazz Kings" for his hot band sides and "Clarence Williams' Washboard Five" for his washboard sides. He also produced and participated in early recordings by Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bessie Smith, Virginia Liston, Irene Scruggs, and many others. King Oliver played cornet on a number of Williams' late 1920s recordings. He was the recording director for the short-lived QRS Records label in 1928.

Most of his recordings were songs from his publishing house, which explains why he recorded tunes like "Baby Won't You Please Come Home", "Close Fit Blues" and "Papa De-Da-Da" numerous times.

In 1933, he signed to the Vocalion label and recorded quite a number of popular recordings, mostly featuring washboard percussion, through 1935.

In 1943 Williams sold his extensive back-catalogue of tunes to Decca Records for $50,000 and retired, but then bought a bargain used goods store. Williams died in Queens, New York City in 1965 and was interred in Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. On her death in 1977, his wife was interred next to him. Their grandson is Clarence Williams III.

Clarence Williams' name appears as composer or co-composer on numerous tunes, including a number which by Williams' own admission were written by others but which Williams bought all rights to outright, as was a common practice in the music publishing business at the time. Clarence Williams hits include "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" (as publisher - not composer), "Baby Won't You Please Come Home", "Royal Garden Blues", "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do", "Shout, Sister, Shout" and many others. In 1970, Williams was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Sites:
In Groups:
Variations:

Clarence Williams Discography

Albums

none Clarence Williams Untitled(LP) Not On Label none Switzerland 1966 Sell This Version
QSR 2426 Clarence Williams Rhythm Kings 1935(Cass, Comp) Alamac Record Company QSR 2426 US Unknown Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

8020 Clarence Williams Pullman Porter Blues / If You Don't Believe I Love You, Look What A Fool I've Been(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8020 US 1922 Sell This Version
4893 Clarence Williams Mixing The Blues / The Weary Blues(Shellac, 10") Okeh 4893 US 1923 Sell This Version
8067 Sara Martin - Clarence Williams / Sara Martin - Eva Taylor Sara Martin - Clarence Williams / Sara Martin - Eva Taylor - Monkey Man Blues / Yodeling Blues(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8067 US 1923 Sell This Version
8183 Eva Taylor - Clarence Williams Eva Taylor - Clarence Williams - Arkansaw Blues / Terrible Blues(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8183 US 1925 Sell This Version
12435 Joe Sims (2) And Clarence Williams Joe Sims (2) And Clarence Williams - Shut Your Mouth / What Do You Know About That(Shellac, 10") Paramount 12435 US 1927 Sell This Version
14341-D Clarence Williams Farm Hand Papa / My Woman Done Me Wrong (As Far As I'm Concerned)(Shellac, 10") Columbia 14341-D US 1928 Sell This Version
8604 Clarence Williams Organ Grinder Blues / Wildflower Rag(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8604 US 1928 Sell This Version
8775 Lonnie Johnson (2) And Clarence Williams / Lonnie Johnson (2) Lonnie Johnson (2) And Clarence Williams / Lonnie Johnson (2) - The Dirty Dozen / She Don't Know Who She Wants(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8775 US 1930 Sell This Version
8762 Lonnie Johnson (2) And Clarence Williams Lonnie Johnson (2) And Clarence Williams - Monkey And The Baboon / Wipe It Off(Shellac, 10") Okeh 8762 US 1930 Sell This Version
14502-D Jimmy Johnson* And Clarence Williams Jimmy Johnson* And Clarence Williams - I've Found A New Baby / How Could I Be Blue(Shellac, 10") Columbia 14502-D US 1930 Sell This Version
Clarence Williams No Rest For The Worried / The seventh Son Throne (3) US 1964 Sell This Version
T-101 Clarence Williams I Know It's True (It's All Over) / I Know About Love(7", Single) Tina Records T-101 US 1964 Sell This Version
SCM 5134 Clarence Williams High Society(7", Single, Mono) Columbia SCM 5134 UK Unknown Sell This Version
1118 Clarence Williams Royal Queen-White Promo(7") Chancellor 1118 US Unknown Sell This Version
94 208 Clarence Williams / Jimmy Blythe Clarence Williams / Jimmy Blythe - Clarence Williams - Jimmy Blythe 1927/1929(7", EP) Coral 94 208 Germany Unknown Sell This Version

Compilations

S1282 Clarence Williams Volume 2(LP, Comp, Mono) Swaggie Records S1282 Australia 1971 Sell This Version
RK 2001 Clarence Williams Jug & Washboard Bands(LP, Comp) Right Keyhole RK 2001 Italy 1971 Sell This Version
Clarence Williams Country Goes To Town (1929-1941) (Comp) RCA Victor France 1972 Sell This Version
AR/LP/12063 Clarence Williams The Rarest Clarence Williams(LP, Comp) Ariston AR/LP/12063 Italy 1972 Sell This Version
Clarence Williams The Music Man - (1927 - 1934) (Comp) MCA Records France 1975 Sell This Version
FJ-121 Eva Taylor And Clarence Williams Eva Taylor And Clarence Williams - 1925-1926(LP, Comp) Retrieval FJ-121 UK 1984 Sell This Version
827 Clarence Williams Jug Bands 1929-1934(LP, Album, Comp, Mono) Swaggie Records 827 Australia 1985 Sell This Version
Clarence Williams Clarence Williams (Great Original Performances 1927 To 1934) (Comp) ABC Records (3) UK 1988 Sell This Version