R&B singer, producer and songwriter Andre Williams has died. He was 82.
The legend’s death was announced on Facebook by his label, Pravda Record. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary artist Andre Williams,” they wrote. “He touched our lives and the lives of countless others. We love you Dre.”
The news was confirmed by Williams’ manager, Kenn Goodman, who told Billboard that he passed on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, surrounded by family. “[Williams] was diagnosed two weeks ago with colon cancer that spread to his lungs and brain,” he said, noting that the singer had been battling other recent health issues, including strokes and seizures.
Williams first shot to fame as the lead vocalist of The Five Dollars in the ’50s. During his tenure with the group, which was later renamed Andre Williams and the Don Juans, he released hits like “Jail Bait” and “Bacon Fat.” The latter earned him the nickname “godfather of rap,” due to his distinctive speak-singing style on the track.
In the ’60s, the artist began to write and produce songs for other acts on labels like Chess Records and the then-fledgling Motown. He had a hand in writing Stevie Wonder’s “Thank You (For Loving Me All the Way),” as well the classic soul song “Shake a Tail Feather,” among others.
In recent decades, he maintained a solo career while working with industry hard-hitters, from the likes of Ike & Tina Turner to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His last album, Don’t Ever Give Up, was released in 2016.
RIP, Andre Williams. You will be missed. Revisit his greatest hits below: