R&B singer, songwriter and producer Andre Williams has died at the age of 82.
The news was confirmed by his label Pravda Records who said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary artist Andre Williams.
“He died this afternoon in Chicago at the age of 82. He touched our lives and the lives of countless others. We love you Dre.”
Williams’ manager Kenn Goodman told Billboard (opens in new tab) that the musician’s death came just weeks after he was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. It’s reported that Williams had also suffered health issues including seizures and strokes.
Williams signed with Fortune Records as a teenager and joined The 5 Dollars in 1955 and released the tracks Bacon Fat and Jail Bait a solo artist. The former was later covered by both The Cramps and Frank Zappa, while the latter was selected by The Rolling Stones to appear on their 2003 Artist's Choice compilation.
In the 60s, Williams co-wrote Stevie Wonder’s Thank You For Loving Me, while the classic Shake A Tail Feather, which he recorded in 1963 with The Five Du-Tones, became a hit for both Ike & Tina Turner and Mitch Rider And The Detroit Wheels, and was a highlight of the Blues Brothers soundtrack.
His song Gotta Get to Know You was covered by Foghat, while The Easybeats released a version of Williams' I Can't Stand It.
Williams picked up the 'Godfather Of Rap’ tag due to his spoken word technique and was later known as Mr Rhythm thanks to the hundreds of tracks he wrote, performed on or produced.
Along with his solo career, Williams worked with a wide range of artists during his career including Pavement and The Sadies, while rockers The Gories played on his 1998 album Silky.
Williams also provided backing vocals on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Freaky Styley in 1985, and on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Lap Dance in 1999.
Williams published the book Sweets & Other Stories in 2009 which was comprised of writings he started while he was in a 42-day programme at a drug and alcohol rehab centre.