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Clarence Williams

p, voc, 1893-1965 US, Plaquemine, Louisiana
Singer / Musician / Composer / Producer of Jazz and Blues

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.

  • Piano
  • Vocals
  • Violoncello
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Pop
Popular Tracks   
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? on All That Jazz, Vol. 57: Bessie Smith - A Decade of the Blues by Bessie Smith
Downhearted Blues on All That Jazz, Vol. 57: Bessie Smith - A Decade of the Blues by Bessie Smith
I'm Wild About That Thing on Presenting Eddie Lang by Eddie Lang
Everybody Loves My Baby on Presenting Clarence Williams by Clarence Williams
Baby Won't You Please Come Home? on Baby Won't You Please Come Home? by Various Artists
Crazy Blues on Presenting Clarence Williams by Clarence Williams
Aggravatin' Papa on All That Jazz, Vol. 57: Bessie Smith - A Decade of the Blues by Bessie Smith
Wild Cat Blues on Presenting Clarence Williams by Clarence Williams
After Tonight on Presenting Clarence Williams by Clarence Williams
Texas Moaner Blues on Presenting Clarence Williams by Clarence Williams

Track list and 30sec audio provided by

Band Members

Title Artist Year Type
High SocietyClarence Williams2016Single
Senegalese StompClarence Williams2015Compil.
The Clarence Williams Collection, 1921-37Clarence Williams2013Compil.
Washboard Bands, 1926-29. Gimme BluesClarence Williams2011Compil.
Thriller Blues 1930-1941Clarence Williams2005Compil.
You Rascal YouClarence Williams2005Compil.
Clarence Williams' QRS Recordings, Volume 2Clarence Williams2003Compil.
Take Your Black Bottom Dance OutsideClarence Williams2002Compil.
1925-1926 / Volume 1 1924-1929 The Alternative Takes In Chronological OrderThomas Morris / Clarence Williams2001Compil.
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?Clarence Williams2001Compil.
Volume 2 1929-1938 (The Alternative Takes In Chronological Order)Clarence Williams2001Compil.
Clarence Williams' QRS Recordings, Volume 1Clarence Williams2001Compil.
"Shake 'Em Up" • Clarence Williams, 1927-1929 • The Vocalion, Brunswick, Victor, Paramount & Grey Gull RecordingsClarence Williams2000Compil.
Clarence Williams, New Orleans Pioneer -- Great Original Performances 1923 To 1941Clarence Williams1999Compil.
Top Of The TownClarence Williams1998Compil.
With Louis Armstrong & Sidney BechetClarence Williams1998Compil.
Dreaming The Hours Away. Clarence Williams: The Columbia Recordings: Volume 1Clarence Williams1997Compil.
The Clarence Williams Collection, Volume 3, 1929-1930Clarence Williams1997Compil.
1937-1941Clarence Williams1997Compil.
Eva Taylor With Clarence WilliamsEva Taylor With Clarence Williams1997Compil.
Whoop It Up. Clarence Williams: The Columbia Recordings: Volume 2Clarence Williams1997Compil.
1934-1937Clarence Williams1996Compil.
1934Clarence Williams1996Compil.
1933-1934Clarence Williams1996Compil.
The Clarence Williams Collection, Volume 2, 1928Clarence Williams1995Compil.
1930-1931Clarence Williams1995Compil.
1933Clarence Williams1995Compil.
1929-1930Clarence Williams1995Compil.
Clarence Williams - Jimmy Blythe 1927/1929Clarence Williams / Jimmy Blythe1994Single
The Complete 1923-1926 Clarence Williams Sessions, Volume 4 -- 1926Clarence Williams1994Compil.
1928-1929Clarence Williams1994Compil.
1929Clarence Williams1994Compil.
1927-1928Clarence Williams1994Compil.
The Clarence Williams Collection Vol. 1, 1927-28Clarence Williams1993Compil.
1926-1927Clarence Williams1993Compil.
1924-1926Clarence Williams1993Compil.
1927Clarence Williams1993Compil.
Clarence Williams (Vol. 1)Clarence Williams1992Compil.
1921-1924Clarence Williams1992Compil.
Clarence Williams (Vol. 4)Clarence Williams1992Compil.
The 1923-1931 Recordings: The Complete Sidney Bechet & Louis Armstrong SessionsClarence Williams1991Compil.
A Selection Of His Rare Recordings Volume One 1979-1930Clarence Williams1989Compil.
Clarence Williams (Great Original Performances 1927 To 1934)Clarence Williams1989Compil.
Complete 1923-1926 RecordingsClarence Williams1989Compil.
Jug Bands 1929-1934Clarence Williams1985Compil.
1925-1926Eva Taylor And Clarence Williams1984Compil.
The Music Man - (1927 - 1934)Clarence Williams1982Compil.
Country Goes To Town (1929-1941)Clarence Williams1972Compil.
Volumes Three And FourClarence Williams1972Compil.
The Rarest Clarence WilliamsClarence Williams1972Compil.
Jug & Washboard BandsClarence Williams1971Compil.
Volume 2Clarence Williams1971Compil.
The Dirty Dozen / She Don't Know Who She WantsLonnie Johnson And Clarence Williams1930Album
Monkey And The Baboon / Wipe It OffLonnie Johnson And Clarence Williams1930Album
I've Found A New Baby / How Could I Be BlueJames Price Johnson And Clarence Williams1930Album
Organ Grinder Blues / Wildflower RagClarence Williams1928Album
Farm Hand Papa / My Woman Done Me Wrong (As Far As I'm Concerned)Clarence Williams1928Album
Shut Your Mouth / What Do You Know About ThatJoe Sims And Clarence Williams1927Album
Arkansaw Blues / Terrible BluesEva Taylor - Clarence Williams1925Album
Squabbling Blues /I'm Cert'Ny Gonna See 'Bout ThatSara Martin, Clarence Williams1923Album
Monkey Man Blues / Yodeling BluesSara Martin - Clarence Williams - Eva Taylor1923Album
Mixing The Blues / The Weary BluesClarence Williams1923Album
Pullman Porter Blues / If You Don't Believe I Love You, Look What A Fool I've BeenClarence Williams1922Album
Decatur Street Blues / Caterpilar WabbleClarence Williams / Thomas E. Chappelle - Juanita Stinnette Chappelle1922Album
Brown Skin / If You Don't Want MeDaisy Martin, Clarence Williams1921Album
Clarence Williams & The Washboard BandsClarence WilliamsCompil.
Clarence Williams RaritiesClarence WilliamsCompil.
Cake Walkin' Babies / Jazz LipsLouis Armstrong, Clarence WilliamsAlbum
the JaZZ makersClarence WilliamsCompil.
Clarence Williams Recordings 1926-1930Clarence WilliamsCompil.
The Complete 1923-1926 Clarence Williams Sessions, Volume 1 -- 1923Clarence WilliamsCompil.
Archive Of Jazz Volume 38Clarence WilliamsCompil.
Sarah Martin Accompanied By Clarence WilliamsSara Martin, Clarence WilliamsSingle
The Clarence Williams Story 1925-1935 Rare Recordings Including Previously Unissued PerformancesClarence WilliamsCompil.
No. 1 1927-1935Clarence WilliamsCompil.
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