Andre Williams was an R n’ B singer from the first era of 1950s R n’ B. He rarely made it out of the chitlin’ circuit, but was as important as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ike Turner, or Johnny “Guitar” Watson. He made a little talent go a long way, but was inspired by the spirit of wry funk and worked his way through many genres of African-American music.
I discovered him via a cover Frank Zappa did of “Bacon fat”, becoming a fan. We have all heard his work in “Shake a Tail Feather”, which i am sure barely made him a penny. He was a pal of Ike Turner, and when Ike was freebasing in his Chicago mansion, Andre was his wing-man in mischief. Ike eventually cleaned up, but Andre didn’t, and temporarily became homeless.
I don’t quite know what happened next, but certainly he made an album with Jon Spencer of raucous, smutty garage rock (“Silky”), which is unlikely to appeal to those of a delicate sensibility. Several SLIGHTLY less raucous albums followed, though they all have their charms for those who like trashy garage rock and dirty r’n’b. I saw him and a pick-up band play to about 20 people at a pub gig in Leicester. Initially shocked at the emptiness of the room, he nevertheless performed with enthusiasm and dignity to the assembled. One day people will value his contribution.