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Old 09-03-2006, 09:47 AM   #1
Suselit
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Andy Williams, "Living His Dream" news article

nice photos, too:
http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs...609030339/1005

Published September 3, 2006


LEGENDARY SINGER »

Andy Williams living his dream


Michael A. Brothers
News-Leader

Andy Williams is standing at the mike, headphones on, dressed comfortably in black. He is not onstage, but backstage at his Branson theater, in a spacious dressing room adorned with modern art, photographs and Emmy Awards.

He glances at some sheet music resting on a stand nearby, then turns to sound engineer Chad Heasley, who has a track cued on a small but sophisticated recording setup.

Then, the voice.

"We were young, we were strong / we were one all along / if there's somebody calling me on / she's the one."

Its the 10th or 11th time the singer has gone over these lines, from a cover of a recent hit by a British pop artist. But Williams is a perfectionist, and six decades of singing for audiences across the world haven't lessened his desire to get it right, no matter how much time it takes.

"I liked that one," Williams says.

"I did, too, pal," says Heasley, longtime audio director at the Moon River Theater.

"Can we hear that one compared to the one before?" Williams asks.

They listen, and do it again.

It's a peek into the long process of recording a new Andy Williams studio album, the artist's first in nearly 20 years. Most of the recording was done in a Los Angeles studio, but on this day Williams is touching up some vocal tracks.

On Friday, he takes the stage in Branson, where he has performed for 15 years as one of the marquee stars in a town full of famous singers. The show will run through Oct. 26, followed by his annual Christmas show.

After a career that includes dozens of chart hits, thousands of performances, TV specials, three Emmys and five Grammys, the 77-year-old Williams doesn't have to keep singing to get by. He doesn't have to maintain a daily show schedule in Branson, tour Asia or make a new album, for that matter. But he's done all those this year.

"I wouldn't give it up for the world," Williams says when asked what keeps him going.

"I love it."

Does he ever give thought to retirement? Maybe devote energy to his love of golf and collecting abstract art? Or spending time with his wife of 15 years, Debbie, and three grown children from his first marriage, Christian, Noelle and Bobby?

Not until business dries up or he's no longer around, he says. Williams and Heasley, who often calls his boss "buddy" and "pal," are able to kid around about the latter part. They have a running joke — something about planting speakers in a casket.

Clearly, the fun-loving Williams doesn't dwell on mortality.

And business? No worries there, either. His shows at the Moon River Theater are on pace to attract some 190,000 fans this year, says David Ledford, the theater's manager.

Heasley, who's worked with Williams for 12 years, says the star is sounding better now than he has in some time.

"He's singing as good as he ever has right now," Heasley says, adding that Williams seems happiest when he's working hard. "If I'd have known how happy this was going to make him, I'd have made him do it years ago."

The Williams Brothers

Howard Andrew Williams started his singing career like many other famous and not-so-famous performers: in church. The native of tiny Wall Lake, Iowa, began singing with his three older brothers Bob, Dick and Don in a local church in the mid 1930s, when Andy was 8 years old.

It wasn't long before the Williams Brothers, as they became known, were featured on radio station WHO in Des Moines. They eventually moved to powerhouse stations with near-nationwide reach such as WLW in Cincinnatiand WLS in Chicago, after their father, a railroad man, had transferred to the Windy City.

They scored their first hit in 1944 by teaming up with Bing Crosby on "Swinging On a Star."

Williams had older brothers to learn from. He thinks it's no coincidence that young members of family bands — like Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson, for example — go on to solo careers.

"The younger one generally has the advantage of all the training and everything the group went through," he says.

The brothers disbanded in 1951, and Williams struck out on his own the next year but didn't find immediate success. He moved to New York at age 23 seeking work. There he was wracked by a feeling he says still eats away at him at times: nerves.

"It was a terrifying time because I was so used to being part of a group," Williams recalls. "Without my brothers there, I felt so alone. ... I really wanted to sing but I was scared to death."

Finding solo success

But Williams was good enough to score a gig performing regularly on Steve Allen's "Tonight" show on NBC. That led to a record deal with Cadence Records, a small New York label. By the end of the decade he had scored top-10 hits in "Canadian Sunset," "Butterfly" and "Lonely Street." "The Hawaiian Wedding Song," released in 1959, earned him his first Grammy.

Williams' work on "Tonight" also led to a love affair with television, a medium he would use to great effect over the years. He felt comfortable on camera.

"I began to realize that TV was very intimate," he says. "You didn't have to do a lot because the camera did a lot. If you allowed yourself to be normal, the rest would come through."

Right through, in fact, to fans who can still recall first seeing and hearing Williams on the small screen.

"I remember turning to my mother and saying, 'Mom, this man has the voice of an angel,'" says Twila Dalrymple of Pickerington, Ohio. "She said, 'That's nice, honey.' But she didn't know how that affected me. I haven't changed my mind. I still think he has the voice of an angel."

Dalrymple has seen Williams perform live "hundreds of times." She and her husband, Gene, visit the Moon River Theater four or five times a year.

In the '60s, Williams broke out thanks to two partnerships, one with noted composer Henry Mancini and the other with Columbia Records.

From Mancini came songs like "Moon River," which became Williams' theme song, "Days of Wine and Roses," "Dear Heart" and the "Sweetheart Tree" — all of which were performed by Williams at the Oscars. "Moon River" won the Oscar for Best Song in 1961. Though Williams didn't sing it for the film (star Audrey Hepburn did) his performance at Hollywood's biggest event helped marry his voice with the tune in music fans' minds for decades to come.

The song's been covered many times since. It's also often referenced in movies and television, from "The Simpsons," which poked fun at it, to "Sex and the City," where the suave Mr. Big gives Carrie Bradshaw his copy of the album before he leaves New York.

In 1963, "Days of Wine and Roses" propelled an album of the same name to the top of the pop charts for 16 weeks.

By then Williams also had his own variety program on NBC, "The Andy Williams Show." The show lasted for a decade until it ended in 1972, by which time Williams had become an international star. He continued to record specials, including many Christmas shows, for years after.

"My mom was a big fan growing up, so my whole childhood was kind of geared around his show," says longtime fan and music collector Anthony Giglioitti, 49, of Omaha, Neb. "You had to eat (dinner) before his show came on, and if it was a holiday that was a big deal. His celebration was part of ours."

Giglioitti and his family would go to Las Vegas every summer to see Williams, who played Caeser's Palace from its opening in 1966 until 1986.

"Some families go to Disney World," he jokes.

Because they've supported him for so many years, Dalrymple and Giglioitti have both struck up what Giglioitti calls "a fan friendship" with Williams. They've gotten to know him personally.

"He's exactly like he is on stage — he is a perfect gentleman," Dalrymple says. "He doesn't put on airs, he's very down-to-earth and he's very direct."

Settling in Branson

Directness got Williams into some rough going after he announced in 1991 that he would build a $12 million theater in Branson. The news surprised some, given Branson's reputation for country music.

One of those curious about the move was a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean who interviewed Williams about his plans. He quoted Williams' off-the-cuff remark in which he used the word "crap" to describe some of Branson's shows.

Williams is able to laugh about it now, but he says it took a couple of years before all was forgiven. He says he was trying to imply that he wanted to raise the bar for Branson entertainment.

Doug Gabriel, who's performed in Branson for more than 20 years, says he felt bad for Williams at the time because he thinks the quote was blown out of proportion.

"But I think even Andy learned a little bit about this town," says Gabriel. "This town is loyal to its entertainers. ... And they've been good to Andy because he's settled in here."

Indeed, Williams is one of the few big names from the '90s Branson explosion who has stayed. He and his wife live in Branson much of the year, and he talks up the town from stage during his shows.

"Andy's an icon and a legend and it certainly does help Branson that he's here," Gabriel says.

Williams' new album is due out in 2007. Dalrymple and Giglioitti say they can't wait. Dalrymple knows Williams will see that it's just right, given his perfectionist nature.

"He's promised us it's going to be something special, and I believe it is," she says.

In good voice and spirits, Williams wants to take another shot at the charts.

He says, "I think it's about time to come back."
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Old 09-03-2006, 02:32 PM   #2
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That's a very interesting article. Thanks for alerting us to it.
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Old 09-03-2006, 06:53 PM   #3
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MAN!!!

If I had been in a position to follow him around...maybe I would be in a "fan friendship" with Andy!!

Oh well...I can't wait for his new CD!!

Thanks for sharing the article Suse....of course, you know that I would think that it's GREAT!!
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Old 09-03-2006, 07:13 PM   #4
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Thumbs up Don Williams

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suselit

The Williams Brothers

The native of tiny Wall Lake, Iowa, began singing with his three older brothers Bob, Dick and Don in a local church in the mid 1930s, when Andy was 8 years old.
I had the pleasure of meeting Don Williams at the barbershop last week and he looks identical to Andy! In fact, they play off this likeness at Andy’s show by fooling the audience with a little switcheroo.

It must have been fate for us to meet, because today I had a buyer make a full price cash offer on Don’s ultra-pimp house for sale in Pointe Royale. Andy lives on the same street too.
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Old 09-03-2006, 07:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidfuture
I had the pleasure of meeting Don Williams at the barbershop last week and he looks identical to Andy! In fact, they play off this likeness at Andy’s show by fooling the audience with a little switcheroo.

It must have been fate for us to meet, because today I had a buyer make a full price cash offer on Don’s ultra-pimp house for sale in Pointe Royale. Andy lives on the same street too.
WOW!! That's so cool!!
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Old 09-03-2006, 08:01 PM   #6
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Great article
I love Andy....always have...long before Branson.

Kid....you are a lucky guy....
But you have to work hard and be classy to do what you do and be where you are.....and, I am so proud of you....
(I can say that cause I could be your Grandma)
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Old 09-03-2006, 08:33 PM   #7
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What is an ultra-pimp house!

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Old 09-03-2006, 11:21 PM   #8
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King of the Hill

Quote:
Originally Posted by FloozieLoozie
What is an ultra-pimp house!
Although these pictures barely show a glimpse of the magnitude, this is Don's ultra-pimp house overlooking Lake TaneyComo in Branson: http://www.trilakesmls.com/brn/maildoc/a006nI4291.html
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Old 09-03-2006, 11:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for the article!
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Old 09-04-2006, 12:18 AM   #10
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Susielit, thanks form the article.KidFuture, thanks for the pictures.
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Old 09-04-2006, 11:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloozieLoozie
What is an ultra-pimp house!
Floozie
Ditto,
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Old 09-04-2006, 11:36 AM   #12
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pimp house?

Well do you suppose its something that is classy and impressive and something that will impress your clients and make then wanna buy......?

In this case....the ''high end'' of the ticket and CD sales?
Selling ''success ''is what it takes, and sometimes really impressive Digs or a Pimp-house.......WORKS.

I'd love to have gone to a party there............
Man, I'd love to just take a tour..........................and touch it.

I love successful people and their successes on view...........they worked so hard for it.............

Luv it.........

And, Kid...........your young '' adjective '' is a tad '' out of the vernacular '' for some of us............hehehehe

Oh me <laugh>...........this is fun.......trying to figure it out..........roflol.

Edit:

OH me... surely no one thought the housekeeper had a part time job at night...................did they?

Last edited by Cheesecake; 09-04-2006 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 09-04-2006, 12:10 PM   #13
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LOL... thanks, Cheese... I figured it might be a gender gap thing.

But regardless of the current meaning, if I were the one whose house was being marketed, I don't think I'd want it being called a "pimp house".
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Old 09-04-2006, 12:15 PM   #14
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Why is Andy's brother selling his house? Is he leaving Branson? I bet the price is WAY up there!!!
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Old 09-04-2006, 02:49 PM   #15
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Tiptoeing through the landmines

Quote:
Originally Posted by can'tcatchup
I figured it might be a gender gap thing.

But regardless of the current meaning, if I were the one whose house was being marketed, I don't think I'd want it being called a "pimp house".
Hmmm. I guess that term has an unpopular view with older folks. I’m a member of the generation that produces MTV Cribs. Pardon the slang.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSue
Why is Andy's brother selling his house? Is he leaving Branson?
Don is downsizing to a smaller home in Pointe Royale. He’s an avid golfer and enjoys living close to Andy; why would he leave?! He loves it here. And the Williams’ have been VERY GOOD to Branson.
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