Andy Williams shuffled off the mortal coil yesterday at the age of 84. To many he was a dusty specimen, a relic from an ancient era. Others, of an earlier generation themselves perhaps, saw Williams as a second tier crooner, a pale imitation of the true luminaries- Frank, Nat, Tony- who laid the smack down and defined the times in which they lived.
But this native of tiny Wall Lake, Iowa was his own man, and the imprint he made on the entertainment industry was singular. The handsome possessor of a winning, ever at the ready smile, Andy Williams is best known for performances that expose the poignant side of the human experience; “Moon River” and the theme to “Days of Wine and Roses” come to mind (both from the pen of Hank Mancini) but others, including Johnny Mandel’s “Emily” (lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer) tickled the same spot.
Things could have gone differently. Williams only reached the top of the Billboard charts once: the utterly lame Elvis impression he committed to wax on a tune called “Butterfly,” somehow captured the public’s heart in 1957. From then on Andy Williams steered away from copping other singers and developed his own style, which he took for a long ride. There was a string of popular 45′s, including “Can’t Get Used To Losing You,” a #2 hit in 1962, and the many television variety programs and multiple Grammy Award shows he hosted throughout the 1970’s. At least 18 of his albums went Gold.
Sure, Andy Williams copped out late in life and opened the Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri, but what the hell-he’d already had a great career.
Take it easy, Andy.
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