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By Leslie Kauffman| Published 10/03/2012 in NYTIMES.COM
Frank Wilson, a Motown producer and songwriter who wrote or co-wrote some of the label’s biggest hits, including “Love Child,” performed by the Supremes, “All I Need” by the Temptations and “Castles in the Sand”by Stevie Wonder, died on Sept. 27 in Duarte, Calif. He was 71.
The cause was complications of a lung infection, his daughter Tracey Stein said. He had been treated for prostate cancer.
Mr. Wilson, who later became a born-again preacher, started his career as a performer and had one single, “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” which became an underground hit long after he recorded it. But he had his greatest success behind the scenes.
After joining the Detroit-based Motown in the mid-1960s at its newly opened Los Angeles office, he was involved in composing numerous other pop hits, among them “Chained,” for Marvin Gaye, and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” for Brenda Holloway. She recorded the song in 1967, and it went on to become an even bigger hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears two years later.
In 1968, with the Supremes struggling to remain at the top of the Billboard charts, Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy, gathered Mr. Wilson and a few other confidants to develop a bolder approach for the group. They came up with “Love Child.” Its taboo-breaking lyrics, about having a child outside marriage, helped propel the song to No. 1 on the pop charts in late 1968.
After the Supremes’ lead singer, Diana Ross, left to start a solo career a year later, Mr. Wilson produced the group’s next album and came up with subsequent Supremes hits like “Up the Ladder to the Roof” (1970), which he co-wrote, and “Stoned Love” (1970).
But in 1974 he had a born-again experience and began holding Bible-study sessions for singers at his house. In 1976 he quit Motown and went on to form a ministry for entertainers. With his second wife, P. Bunny Wilson, he founded a church, New Dawn Christian Village, in Los Angeles in 2004.
Frank Edward Wilson was born on Dec. 5, 1940, in Houston to James Wilson and Samanther Gibbs. His uncles had a singing group, and his mother taught him to play the piano by ear.
Mr. Wilson attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., but dropped out after his scholarship was revoked for joining a civil-rights protest in his sophomore year. He got a one-way bus ticket to Los Angeles, his daughter Tracey said.
Besides Ms. Stein, a child from his first marriage, to the singer Barbara Jean Dedmon, who died in 1966, he is survived by his wife and their four daughters, Launi King, Fawn Weaver, Christy Meeks and Gabrielle Wilson; a son from another relationship, Frank Wilson Jr.; three brothers, James, Leonard and Floyd; and a sister, Barbara Jean Hightower.
September 26, 2012 – 09:49 am | Updated: September 26, 2012 – 10:14 am
ST. LOUIS (AP) – Andy Williams, the silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner, whose hit recording “Moon River” and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over has died, his publicist said. He was 84.
Williams died Tuesday night at his home in Branson following a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, his Los Angeles-based publicist, Paul Shefrin, said Wednesday.
With an easy style and a mellow voice that President Ronald Reagan once termed “a national treasure,” Williams proved ideal for television. “The Andy Williams Show,” which lasted in various formats from 1957 to 1971, featured Williams alternately performing his stable of easy-listening ballads and bantering casually with his guest stars. He received 18 gold and three platinum albums over his long career and was nominated for five Grammy awards. He released an autobiography in 2009, “Moon River and Me: A Memoir.”
It was on that show that Williams – who launched his own career as part of an all-brother quartet – introduced the world to the original four singing Osmond Brothers of Utah. Their younger sibling Donny also made his debut on Williams’ show, in 1963 when he was 6 years old.
Four decades later, the Osmonds and Williams would find themselves in close proximity again, sharing Williams’ theater in Branson, Mo., during the 2003 season.
The singer’s unflappable manner on television and in concert mirrored his offstage demeanor.
“I guess I’ve never really been aggressive, although almost everybody else in show business fights and gouges and knees to get where they want to be,” he once said. “My trouble is, I’m not constructed temperamentally along those lines.”
Williams’ clean-cut persona, which made him a popular act in conservative Branson, also carried over into his personal life. He was connected with scandal only once – indirectly – when his ex-wife, former Las Vegas showgirl Claudine Longet, shot her lover, skiing champion Spider Sabich, to death in 1976. The Rolling Stones mocked the tragedy in the song “Claudine.”
Longet, who said it was an accident, spent only a week in jail, and Williams provided support for her and their children, Noelle, Christian and Robert.
Born in Wall Lake, Iowa, on Dec. 3, 1927, Howard Andrew Williams began performing with his older brothers Dick, Bob and Don in the local Presbyterian church choir when he was 8. Their father, a postal worker, was the choirmaster.
Soon after, the Williams Brothers Quartet landed a regular spot on Des Moines radio station WHO’s Iowa Barn Dance. The show quickly brought attention from Chicago, Cincinnati and Hollywood.
They joined Bing Crosby in recording the hit “Swinging on a Star” in 1944 for Crosby’s film “Going My Way,” and Andy, barely a teenager, was picked to dub Lauren Bacall’s voice on a song for the film “To Have and Have Not.” His voice stayed in the film until the preview, when it was cut because it didn’t sound like Bacall’s.
Later the brothers worked with Kay Thompson, a singer who had taken a position as vocal coach at MGM studios, working with Judy Garland, June Allyson and others.
After three months of training, Thompson and the Williams Brothers broke in their show at the El Rancho Room in Las Vegas to a huge ovation. They drew rave reviews in New York, Los Angeles and across the nation, earning a peak of $25,000 a week.
Williams, analyzing their success, once said: “Somehow we managed to work up and sustain an almost unbearable pitch of speed and rhythm.”
After five years, the three older brothers, who were starting their own families, had tired of the constant travel and left to pursue other careers.
Williams initially struggled as a solo act and was so broke at one point that he resorted to eating food intended for his two dogs.
“I had no money for food, so I ate it,” he recalled in 2001, “and it actually was damned good.”
A two-year TV stint on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” and a contract with Cadence Records turned things around.
“The Andy Williams Show” followed, along with a host of gold albums and records. Among his hit records: “Canadian Sunset,” ”The Hawaiian Wedding Song,” ”Dear Heart,” ”Days of Wine and Roses,” the theme from the movie “Love Story” and “Charade.”
After leaving TV, Williams headed back on the road, where his many Christmas shows and albums made him a huge draw during the holidays. One year in Des Moines, however, a snowstorm kept the customers away, and the band’s equipment failed to reach Chicago in time for the next night’s show, forcing the musicians to borrow instruments from a high school band.
“No more tours,” Williams decreed.
He decided to settle in Branson, the self-proclaimed “live entertainment capital of the country,” with its dozens of theaters featuring live music, comedy and magic acts.
When he arrived in 1992, the town was dominated by country music performers, but Williams changed that, building the classy, $13 million Andy Williams Moon River Theater in the heart of the city’s entertainment district and performing two shows a night, six days a week, nine months of the year. Only in recent years did he begin to cut back to one show a night.
Not surprisingly, his most popular time of the year was Christmas, although he acknowledged that not everyone in Hollywood accepted his move to the Midwest.
“The fact is most of my friends in L.A. still think I’m nuts for coming here,” he told The Associated Press in 1998.
He and his second wife, the former Debbie Haas, divided their time between homes in Branson and Palm Springs, where he spent his leisure hours on the golf course when Branson’s theaters were dark during the winter months following Christmas.
Retirement was not on his schedule. As he told the AP in 2001: “I’ll keep going until I get to the point where I can’t get out on stage.”
He continued to perform even after announcing his bladder cancer diagnosis in 2011.
Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.
This is the only song by Iron Butterfly that I ever heard and it most certainly has grown on me through out the decades.
In 1968 the song peaked at #30 and the LP (that is the only place to find the 17 minutes song) was a hit, peaking at #4.
When I first heard this seventeen minute song, I wasn’t really interested until a friend kept raving about it. I wasn’t too much interested in Psychedelic Rock assuming it was only good for pot smokers, but after a few listens it grew on me even thought I had no idea what it was about or what the vocalist was saying. Pretty kewl vibe though
Now this song isn’t one that is on my music player or one I listen to regularly. I must admit that the last time I listened to it was after watching a Simpsons’ episode where Bart Simpson snuck in the sheet music of the song to the organist at his church, where “Rock and or Roll” was considered EVIL. The congregation sang “In The Garden Of Eden” by I. Ron Butterfly. (ROTFL)