When the roll call of the world’s greatest musicians is taken, one name that will surely make it to the list is that of Andy Williams. The velvet-voiced crooner was a major proponent of the easy listening genre. He churned out several unforgettable hits including Moon River, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, and Can’t Get Used To Losing You among others. The legendary singer also received several accolades, and sold over a hundred million records, in the course of his illustrious career.
Early Beginnings Of Andy Williams’ Life
Andy Williams, whose real name is Howard Andrew Williams, was born on the 3rd of December 1927 in the town of Wall Lake, Iowa. His father’s name was Jay Emerson while his mother’s name was Florence. The Moon River crooner also had three elder brothers – Bob, Don and Dick, who were equally gifted singers.
Williams grew up in Iowa and started singing in the church choir as a child. He later joined forces with his brothers, and they formed the Williams Brothers Quartet in 1938. The quartet performed on various radio stations throughout the mid-west and became quite popular. They subsequently featured on Bing Crosby’s 1944 hit single, Swinging on a Star, and appeared in a bunch of musical films.
In 1947, the Williams Brothers were hired as the backup to singer, Kay Thompson. This partnership rose to become the highest-paid night club act in the world from 1947 until their disbandment in 1951.
Moon River And TV Show
Following the disbandment of the Kay Thompson nightclub act, Andy Williams went solo in the year 1952. He initially released a string of songs but none of them generated much buzz. His fortune, however, turned in 1954 when he was offered regular singing duties on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. His excellent performances fetched him a contract with Cadence Records and he subsequently dropped a bunch of hit songs including Butterfly, Canadian Sunset, Are You Sincere Bernadette, Lonely Street and I Like Your Kind of Love. The Iowa native thereafter dropped his greatest hit, Moon River, in 1961. Overall, in a career spanning six decades; Andy Williams released a total of 43 albums, out of which 15 were certified gold and three were certified platinum. The singer also received several awards including a total of six Grammy nominations.
Asides his musical prowess, Andy Williams was also a genuinely-talented TV personality. The singer first exhibited his charismatic skills during his time on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. He then proved that he was no fluke when he landed his own eponymous show in 1962. The musical variety show featured Williams’ mellifluous rendition of his hit songs as well as comedy sketches. They were also appearances by several upcoming and established stars including Judy Garland, Elton John, Bobby Darin, The Mamas and The Papas, and the Osmond Brothers (who got their breakthrough on the show). The Andy Williams Show ran from 1962 to 1971, and won a total of three Emmy awards for Outstanding Variety Program.
Who Are His Family Members?
Andy Williams first got married to French-born dancer, Claudine Longnet, on the 15th of December 1961. The union produced three children – Robert, Noelle, and Christina. The couple later divorced in 1975 but remained friends. The singer & TV personality once more remarried in 1991, this time to Debbie Meyer. Their union lasted until death did them apart in 2012. During Williams’ funeral, Meyer shared a self-made video of the couple’s life together. She stated that meeting the singer made her believe in the existence of love at first sight.
How Old Was Andy Williams When He Died?
The iconic American musician passed away on the 25th of September 2012 at the age of 84. The singer died of bladder cancer, a disease that he had bravely battled for year prior to his death. Williams’ demise led to an outpouring of tributes from several quarters including Donny Osmond, Don Black and Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel. The singer’s remains were later cremated and spread at his famous Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri.
A funeral service was held for Williams on the 22nd of October 2012 in his adopted hometown of Branson, Missouri. The funeral was initially an invite-only event but tickets were released to the public due to popular demand. There were a thousand people in attendance, and the funeral featured musical tributes by the likes of The Osmond Brothers, and The Gatlin Brothers, among others.