R&B Singer Andre Williams — Known as the "Godfather of Rap" — Dead at 82
Andre Williams was diagnosed with colon cancer just two weeks ago.
Veteran R&B singer Andre Williams died in Chicago on Sunday (March 17th). The singer was 82. Williams' label, Pravda Records, confirmed the news 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.
William's manager, Kenn Goodman, told Billboard that the singer had been diagnoised with colon cancer just two weeks ago. Goodman said:
He was diagnosed two weeks ago with colon cancer that spread to his lungs and brain. After that his body started shutting down pretty quickly.
Born in Bessember, Alabama, Williams was only a teenager when he started his singing career. He moved to Detorit in the '50s and signed to Fortune Records, becoming the lead singer for The Five Dollars, which eventually became Andre Williams and the Don Juans. In 1956, he would release "Bacon Fat," his most well-known song.
In that song, Williams would utilize a singing style that was almost conversational. Because of that technique, he would later be referred to as the "Godfather of Rap." (He was known as “Mr. Rhythm” during this time.)
The next decade would see Williams take a more behind the scenes role with music, working with Motown Records. He wrote and produced tracks for Stevie Wonder, the Temptations,the Contours, and more.
Williams would struggle during the years — particularly with alcoholism — and there was a stretch when he was homeless. But the singer would become quite prolific in the '90s and 2000s, releasing a number of albums, and performing with the likes of Parliament, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper.
Williams last album — appropriately titled Don't Ever Give Up — was released in 2016.