Howard “Andy” Williams
December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012
With 18 gold and three platinum albums, and a three-time Emmy winning primetime variety show, Andy Williams was a force to be reckoned with during the ’60s and ’70s. Williams launched his career with six recordings for an X Records, and RCA Victor label, in 1953. A year later he made his first of many appearances on Tonight Starring Steve Allen which led to his signing to Cadence Records and his first hits. By the mid ’60s, Williams was recording for Columbia and had purchased the Cadence master tape catalog which also included recordings by the Everly Brothers and the Chordettes. He soon launched Barnaby Records which had hits with Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful” and “The Streak.” He also signed a young Jimmy Buffett to his first record deal at Barnaby. Meanwhile, Williams was quickly becoming the most popular pop vocalist of his era. At one point during the ’60s, he was awarded the most expensive recording contract in history. As a solo performer with 18 gold records, his award count was eclipsed by only Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, and Frank Sinatra at the time. Williams’ many hits over the years included “Born Free,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story,” “Butterfly,” and “Can’t Get Used To Losing You.” The Andy Williams Show, which ran between 1962 and 1971, was one of the most popular variety shows of all time. It played host to most of the biggest names in show business, and it’s semi-annual Christmas specials set the standard. And with eight Christmas albums and a huge hit with “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” Williams became known around the world as Mr. Christmas. And although he was considered a “square” by the counter culture, Williams was one of the few major stars who was very vocal against the Nixon Administration’s attempts to deport John Lennon during the early ’70s. In May of 1992, Williams opened the Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri. Hosting performers like Glen Campbell, Ann-Margret, Rich Little and David Copperfield, the theater became one of the most popular venues in the city. Andy Williams was 84 when he passed away on September 25, 2012. He had been suffering from bladder cancer.