Emery "Detroit Junior" Williams Jr. Dies
CHICAGO (AP) - Blues pianist and songwriter Emery "Detroit Junior" Williams Jr., an energetic performer who entertained audiences despite losing a leg to diabetes, died Tuesday. He was 73.
Williams died of heart failure at his Chicago home, said longtime friend Bruce Iglauer, founder and president of Alligator Records.
In a musical career that spanned more than 50 years, Williams was known for his sense of humor and wild performances, which often featured him playing the piano while lying on the floor.
Despite his health problems, Williams continued playing at Chicago blues clubs past an age when most people retire, Iglauer said.
"He just loved being on the bandstand," Iglauer said. "He'd kick the piano bench over and drop to his knees and play ... he was a one-man blues party."
A native of Haynes, Ark., Williams learned to play piano at a young age and had performed in clubs in Michigan by the time he was 19.
"He wasn't about technique, he was about feeling," Iglauer said.
He got the nickname "Detroit Junior" after arriving in Chicago in the 1950s and recording his first single "Money Tree."
Williams was a tireless songwriter but only recorded four albums under his own name. Koko Taylor recorded three of Williams' compositions. One of his songs, "Call My Job," was a hit for Albert King.
But it is Williams' larger-than-life personality that people will miss the most, Iglauer said.
"He had a smile and a good word for everybody," Iglauer said.
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