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Larry Williams

A rough, rowdy rock & roll singer, Larry Williams had several hits in the late '50s, several of which -- "Bony Maroney," "Dizzy, Miss Lizzy," "Short Fat Fannie," "Bad Boy," "She Said Yeah" -- became genuine rock & roll classics and were recorded by British Invasion groups; John Lennon, in particular, was a fan of Williams, recording several of his songs over the course of his career.

As a child in New Orleans, Williams learned how to play piano. When he was a teenager, he and his family moved to Oakland, CA, where he joined a local R&B group called the Lemon Drops. In 1954, when he was 19 years old, Williams went back to New Orleans for a visit. During his trip, he met Lloyd Price, who was recording for Specialty Records. Price hired the teenager as his valet and introduced him to Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, the label's house producer. Soon, the label's owner, Art Rupe, signed Williams to a solo recording contract.

Just after Specialty signed Larry Williams, Specialty lost Little Richard, who had been their biggest star and guaranteed hitmaker. Little Richard decided to abandon rock & roll for the ministry shortly after Williams cut his first single, a cover of Price's "Just Because," with Richard's backing band; "Just Because" peaked at number 11 on the R&B charts in the spring of 1957. After Richard left the label, the label put all of its energy into making Williams a star, giving him an image makeover and a set of material -- ranging from hard R&B and rock & roll to ballads -- that was quite similar to Richard's hits.

Williams' first post-Little Richard single was the raucous "Short Fat Fannie," which shot to number one on the R&B charts and number five on the pop charts in the summer of 1957. It was followed in the fall by "Bony Maronie," which hit number four on the R&B charts and number 14 on the pop charts. Williams wasn't able to maintain that momentum, however. "You Bug Me, Baby" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," his next two singles, missed the R&B charts but became minor pop hits in late 1957 and early 1958. Despite the relative failure of these singles, Williams' records became popular import items in Britain; the Beatles would cover both sides of the "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" single (the B-side was "Slow Down") in the mid-'60s. However, Williams' commercial fortunes in America continued to decline, despite Specialty's release of a constant stream of singles and one full-length album.

In 1959, Williams was arrested for selling narcotics, which caused Specialty to drop him from the record label. During the '60s, he drifted through a number of labels in the early '60s, recording songs for Chess, Mercury, Island, and Decca. By the mid-'60s, he had hooked up Johnny "Guitar" Watson and the duo cut several sides for OKeh Records in the mid- and late '60s, including the Top 40 R&B hits "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (spring 1967) and "Nobody," which was recorded with Kaleidoscope (early 1968). Williams also became a house producer for OKeh Records in 1966, although very few of his productions became hits.

Between 1968 and and 1978, Williams was inactive, recording nothing and performing very little. In 1978, he released a funk album, That's Larry Williams, for Fantasy Records that sold poorly and received bad reviews. In 1980, Williams was found dead in his Los Angeles home; he died of a gunshot wound to his head. The medical examiners called the death a suicide, but rumors persisted for years after his death that he was murdered because of his involvement in drugs, crime and -- allegedly -- prostitution.

A compilation of Williams' biggest hits and best-known songs entitled Bad Boy was released on Specialty Records in 1989. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Love the song high school is also fabulous
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Great song.
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Larry Williams didn't get the recognition he deserved - he had a lot of good songs
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Lloyd Price does a nice job on Just Because too
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She Say Yeah is a GREAT SONG by Larry Wiiams!!!
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Short Fat Fannie...a real rocker back in the day { still is }
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a good rendition of Huey Smith's classic Rockin' Pneumonia
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Poor Man'Little Richard. Of course that is just my opinion. However Dizzy Miss Lizzy is the "Bomb",again just my opinion.
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We are waking to who we are...good song
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vernsnith200 4
would like Bony Moronie
and peaches and cream etc.
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husq21
Covered by more 60s acts than perhaps anyone else. The Rascals' version of Williams' "Slow Down" (a B side no less!) is one of the great rockers of the Boomer generation.
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I too love short fat fanny. Merry Xmas fanny! ( I would like to know how this went over in England - we all know what female body part the English call the fanny, right?).

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Great. Underrated and overlooked.
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He may not be Little Richard, but Larry had so much talent, it's a shame he received so little recognition. His style is much like Little Richard; he just needed something like "Good Golly Miss Molly" to push him into the limelight.
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magruver
You just gotta love this guy, Love short fat fanny,,,,,,, , Oh so GREAT
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meg49979
i love this artist he rocks!!
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johnnylee194 5
Wheres the 'Bio' ????
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viatical57-p a n
Goto Answers.com for about anything. Check this out for Larry Williams:
http://www.a n s w e r s . c o m / t o p i c / l a r r y - w i l l i a m s ? m e t h o d = 2 6 & i n i t i a t o r = C A N S
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no bio? that ain't right, go dizzy
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Larry Williams is one of those rare 50's singers that gets even better as the years pass

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