Singer Andy Williams died on Tuesday evening following a year long battle with bladder cancer, his family said in a statement yesterday. He was 84.
Born Howard Andrew Williams in Iowa in 1927, he first began singing professionally with his three older brothers – Dick, Bob and Don – as The Williams Brothers, when he was just eight years old. The group split in 1951 and Andy went solo, though he reunited with his brothers every Christmas on his TV show ‘The Andy Williams Show’ between 1962 and 1971, and that tradition continued into the 1990s after the television programme finished at his annual live Christmas shows too.
It was as a solo artist that he had most success, having his first US hit with ‘Canadian Sunset’ in 1956, which went to number seven in the US singles chart. The following year he had a number one in both the US and the UK with ‘Butterfly’. Though it wasn’t until 1962 that he had a hit album, his eighth (and only the third to chart), ‘Moon River And Other Great Movie Themes’, which went to number seven in the US. The title track of that album, of course, went on to become one of his signature songs, thanks in part to his performance of it at the 1962 Oscars, though it was never released as a single.
In subsequent years he enjoyed number one albums on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as more top ten records, releasing 42 studio albums in total over the course of his career – the last being 2007′s ‘I Don’t Remember Ever Growing Up’.
Also involved in the business side of music, Williams launched his own record label, Barnaby Records, in 1968, through which he initially released re-issues of his own early recordings on the Cadence record label, as well as releases by other Cadence artists, such as The Everly Brothers (Williams having become the owner of the label’s entire catalogue of master recordings in 1964). Barnaby also signed singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett to release debut album ‘Down To Earth’. Though the company ceased to release records in the late 1970s, Williams still licensed the catalogue to other labels.
In 1992, Williams opened his own venue, The Moon River Theatre, in Branson, Missouri. As well as putting on other artists, he also performed there twice a night, six nights a week, for nine months of the year, up until relatively recently.
He is survived by his second wife Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.