He was born Joseph Goreed in Cordele, Georgia and moved to Chicago as a child. He was raised by his mother and grandmother. He grew on the south side of Chicago, surrounded by jazz, blues, and gospel music. In the 1930s, as a teenager, he was a member of “The Jubilee Boys” and performed in Chicago churches.
He worked as a singer and bouncer in Chicago in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1943, he was hired by the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He toured with Hampton for several years but never achieved breakthrough success.
He rose to national prominence as the singer for Count Basie’s Orchestra in 1954. He remained with Basie for several years. “Everyday I have the Blues” is his biggest hit.
After leaving the Basie band, Williams continued to have a successful career working with his own jazz combo. He and Basie remained on good terms and he would regularly appear with the band.
Bill Cosby cast Williams as his father-in-law “Grandpa Al” Hanks in a recurring role on the 1980s sit-com The Cosby Show.
Williams enjoyed a successful career and worked regularly until his death. He died at age 80, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joe Williams shares a birthday with Frank Sinatra who was also born Dec. 12, three years before Williams
Edited by pinngo on 1 Dec 2006, 11:39
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