Real name: Howard Andrew Williams
Born: Dec 3, 1928 in Wall Lake, IA
Died: Sept 25, 2012
Styles: Traditional Pop, Film Music, Standards, Vocal Pop, Soft Rock, Show Tunes, Easy Listening
Easily the most solid and long-lasting vocalist of his era, Andy Williams' laidback delivery and expansive voice charmed audiences for decades, from his first appearance with a brother quartet into his seventh decade of performance as the head of his own dinner theater in Branson, Missouri. Born in Wall Lake, Iowa, Williams sang in his church choir and later formed a quartet with his three brothers. The group performed on radio throughout the Midwest, then moved to Los Angeles to make it in show business. The Williams Brothers Quartet appeared on Bing Crosby's 1944 hit "Swinging on a Star," and appeared with comedienne Kay Thompson during the late '40s.
Andy Williams finally began his solo career in 1952, making several appearances on Steve Allen's Tonight Show before signing a contract with Archie Bleyer's Cadence Records in 1956. He hit the Top Ten later that year with his second single for the label, "Canadian Sunset." One year later, his soft-toned cover of the Charlie Gracie rockabilly nugget "Butterfly" spent three weeks at number one (it's still his biggest hit). Additional Top Ten entries "Are You Sincere," "Lonely Street" and "The Village of St. Bernadette" followed before Williams moved to Columbia in 1961.
Despite another big hit in 1963, "Can't Get Used to Losing You," Williams failed to generate much action on the singles charts during the 1960s. Instead, his high-rated variety program on NBC-TV spurred interest in the ever-growing LP market for adult and middle-of-the-road audiences. The popular 1962 album Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes launched the song he's most identified with, and the following year's Days of Wine and Roses spent 16 weeks at the top of the album charts. Nine more LPs hit the Top Ten for Andy Williams during the '60s, many organized around loose themes - Broadway, ballads, and one album that featured members of his family. Though 1971's Love Story was a platinum success that sparked a Top Ten hit for the title song, his television show was cancelled that year.
Andy Williams remained very popular during the '70s, especially for British audiences. His single "Solitaire" hit the Top Ten there in 1973, though it didn't even chart in America. As well, two of his subsequent albums performed well, but only in Britain. He released relatively few LPs during the 1980s, but returned to the pop world in the early '90s when he founded his own theatre/resort in the home-grown entertainment capital of Branson, Missouri. Williams continued to headline shows there during the rest of the decade.
- John Bush (All Music Guide)