John B. Williams

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ARTIST BIO

 

John B. Williams was born on February 27th, 1941 in the Bronx, New York, and lived on Sugar Hill in Harlem as the only son of a middle-class family surrounded by beautiful, talented women and beautiful music. Music was a staple in his house.

 

His sisters, Jackie and Joyce, inspired him to play drums and piano. His mother favored the quieter piano, although, eventually she bought him his first drum set at age twelve. He also learned to play Latin percussion (Congas, Bongos, and Timbales) do to his upbringing in racially mixed ‘Sugar Hill,” As a teen, he played drums at community events and then the piano with a neighborhood jazz group called “The Jazz Disciples.” They won the Amateur Night contest at the famed Apollo Theatre three weeks in a row.

Another sister, June, convinced their mother that John should study ballet to keep me off the streets. Ballet had exposed me to modem dance and the music of Stravinski, Copeland, Bernstein as well as Broadway musical theatre.

Yet another sister, Jean, played bass in her Seward Park High School orchestra, and she introduced him to the instrument that would stay with him for the next fifty years.

In a career that spans more than fifty years, John B. Williams has performed with some the world’s most renowned jazz artists—Nancy Wilson, Horace Silver, Count Basie, Louie Bellson, Billy Cobham, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and the Manhattan Transfer, to name a few. He was a fixture on late-night television, first with Doc Severinsen’s house band on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and later as part of the Posse on the Arsenio Hall Show.

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