Roger Williams

Roger Williams (born Louis Jacob Weertz, October 1, 1924 - October 8, 2011) was an American popular music pianist. Biography: Weertz was born to a Lutheran minister, the Rev. Frederick J. Weertz (1891-1980) and a music teacher, Dorothea Bang Weertz (1895-1985), in Omaha, Nebraska. The family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, before his first birthday. He first played the piano at age three. In high school he became interested in boxing, mainly at his father's insistence, and only returned to music after breaking his nose several times and sustaining several other injuries. Weertz majored in piano at Drake University in Des Moines, but claimed he was expelled for playing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in the practice room. Weertz entered the United States Navy and served in World War II. While still in the Navy, he earned a bachelor's degree from Idaho State College (now Idaho State University) in 1950. Afterwards, Weertz re-enrolled at Drake, where he earned his master's degree. He then moved to New York City to attend Juilliard, where he studied jazz piano under Lennie Tristano and Teddy Wilson. Weertz won a talent contest on Dennis James' television program, Chance of a Lifetime. David Kapp, founder of Kapp Records, heard him, and was so impressed that he signed the pianist, giving him the professional name "Roger Williams" after the founder of Rhode Island.

In 1955 Williams recorded "Autumn Leaves", the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard's popular music chart. It sold over two million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It was the fourth #1 song of the "rock era," which unofficially began with the ascension of "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets into the top spot. In 1966 he had another Top Ten hit with the song "Born Free" from the motion picture soundtrack. His other hits include "Near You", "Till", "The Impossible Dream", "Yellow Bird", "Maria", and "The Theme from Somewhere in Time". Billboard magazine ranks him as the top selling piano recording artist in history with 18 gold and platinum albums to his credit. Williams was known as the "Pianist to the Presidents", having played for nine US Presidential administrations, beginning with Harry S. Truman. His last White House performance was in November 2008 for a luncheon hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. On his 75th birthday, Williams performed his first 12-hour piano marathon. He performed the marathon at Steinway Hall in New York City and the Nixon, Carter and Reagan Presidential Libraries.

His Steinway & Sons "Gold Steinway" grand piano was on tour for public display and entertainment during 2007-2008. In 2010, Roger Williams was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Williams developed his particular attitude to his public from a boyhood experience in Des Moines, Iowa. After a piano concert by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, he waited for 45 minutes outside in cold weather to meet Paderewski. When the pianist finally appeared, it was to rush to a waiting automobile. Williams who had waited was mad at them. "I didn't even get near enough to touch him or get an autograph. It was then and there I resolved that if ever I became famous I would never disappoint anyone who wanted to talk to me." Illness and death: In March 2011 Williams posted on his website that he had pancreatic cancer and that his doctors had told him they could not remove the tumor until chemotherapy shrunk it to an operable size. Williams said that he did not plan on canceling any upcoming concerts. He died on October 8, 2011, one week after his 87th birthday.

Williams was married twice. His first marriage produced three children. Both marriages ended in divorce. Chart hits: Year Title
1955 "Autumn Leaves" "Wanting You"
1956 "La Mer (Beyond the Sea)" "Hi-lili Hi-lo" "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" "Two Different Worlds"with Jane Morgan
1957 "Almost Paradise" "Moonlight Love" "Till"
1958 "Arrivederci, Roma" "Young Warm and Wonderful" "Near You" "The World Outside"
1959 "Sunrise Serenade"
1960 "La Montana" "Temptation"
1961 "Marie, Marie" "Maria"
1962 "Amor"
1963 "On the Trail" "Janie Is Her Name" "Look Again" "Theme from the Cardinal"
1964 "Whistl'n"
1965 "Try To Remember" "Summer Wind" "Autumn Leaves '65"
1966 "Lara's Theme" "Born Free"
1967 "Sunrise, Sunset" "Love Me Forever" "More Than a Miracle"
1968 "The Impossible Dream" "If You Go" "Only For Lovers"
1969 "Love Theme from La Strada" "Galveston"
1971 "The Summer Knows" "Love Theme from the Godfather"
1972 "Main Theme from King Kong"
1976 "Cast Your Fate To the Wind"

Source: Wikipedia
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license

Click on any song title to hear and see one page of the music.

midi A Time For Us
(Piano Solo) The Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet

midi America The Beautiful
Piano Adaptation by Roger Williams

midi Before The Parade Passes By (Piano Solo)
From The Motion Picture "Hello Dolly"

midi Born Free Piano Adaptation by Roger Williams
Recorded on Kapp Records

midi Close To You They Long To Be
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Come Saturday Morning (Piano Solo)
From The Paramount Motion Picture The Sterile Cuckoo

midi Didn't We Jimmy Webb
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Gentle On My Mind John Hartford
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Hello Dolly! (Piano Solo)
From The Motion Picture "Hello Dolly"

midi I Wanna Be Free (Piano Solo)
Recorded by The Monkees

midi I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Piano Solo)
From The Broadway Musical "Promises Promises"

midi Jean (Piano Solo)
From The 20th Century Fox Film The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie

midi Just Leave Everything To Me (Piano Solo)
From The Motion Picture "Hello Dolly"

midi - Song From M*A*S*H (Piano Solo)
From The 20th Century Fox Film M*A*S*H

midi Midnight Cowboy (Piano Solo)
From The United Artists Picture Midnight Cowboy

midi Misty
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Near You
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Overture From "Tommy"
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (Piano Solo)
From The 20th Century Fox Film Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

midi Spanish Eyes
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi (The) Spinning Song Piano Adaptation by Roger Williams
Recorded on Kapp Records

midi Tenderly
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

midi The Time For Love Is Anytime (Piano Solo)
From The Columbia Pictures Release "Cactus Flower"

midi This Guy's In Love With You
(Piano Solo) Arranged by John Brimhall

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