David Williams (guitarist)

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David Williams
BornNovember 21, 1950
OriginNewport News, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMarch 6, 2009(2009-03-06) (aged 58)
Hampton, Virginia, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass guitar
Years active1968–2009
Associated acts

David Williams (November 21, 1950 – March 6, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer.[1][2]


Williams grew up in Newport News, Virginia. At a young age he was influenced by jazz artists such as Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery, he later started up his professional music career with The Dells. This career path was halted when he went on to serve in the Vietnam War. Upon his return in 1972 he moved to Los Angeles to reunite with The Dells. Williams also worked with The Temptations at that point, he thereafter established, with bassist James Jamerson Jr., the R&B group Chanson. Chanson went on to release the 1978 single "Don't Hold Back" which rose to #21, #11 and #8 on the Hot 100, Dance Club and Hot R&B Songs charts respectively.[1][3][4][5][6]

Steadily growing success didn't begin until he was brought to Michael Jackson's attention by Everett "Blood" Hollins, who had heard Chanson on the radio and was impressed with Williams' guitar playing, he was hired to play on Jackson's 1979 album Off the Wall. He was also featured on every song but one (second only to Tito Jackson) for The Jacksons' 1980 album Triumph album; and played on the Jacksons' concert tour that resulted in their 1981 album The Jacksons Live! album.

Williams became a popular session guitarist, playing on albums by The Pointer Sisters (1980), Peter Allen (1980), Aretha Franklin (1980) and the Four Tops (1981). In 1982, he was used once again on Michael Jackson's Thriller album, where his signature funky strumming and a minimalist solo famously anchor "Billie Jean". Williams also performed on Jackson's album Bad (1987).

After the success of these projects Williams became one of the most in-demand pop music union session guitarists for the next decade, recording with Madonna, Julio Iglesias, George Benson, the Manhattan Transfer, Michael McDonald, Melissa Manchester, the Temptations, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Shalamar, Go West, ABC, Boz Scaggs, Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Julian Lennon, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Johnny Mathis, Del Shannon, Chaka Khan, Paul Hardcastle, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Lionel Richie, Jessica Simpson, Diana Ross, the Crusaders, Andraé Crouch, Eddie Murphy, Herbie Hancock, Peter Cetera, Whitney Houston, Monkey Business and more.

Though he played on a number of tours with Michael Jackson, Madonna and others, Williams remained a behind-the-scenes union session player. Williams died of cardiac arrest on March 6, 2009, in Hampton, Virginia at age 58, 3 months before Jackson's death also from cardiac arrest.


Solo albums

  • Take the Ball and Run (1983)
  • Somethin' Special (1991)


  1. ^ a b "DAVID WILLIAMS (1957-2009)". Bryan Ferry.com.
  2. ^ "David Williams". Allmusic.com.
  3. ^ "Chanson: Don't Hold Back (Hot 100)". Billboard.com.
  4. ^ "Chanson: Don't Hold Back (Top R&B Songs)". Billboard.com.
  5. ^ "Chanson: Don't Hold Back (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard.com.
  6. ^ "Chanson". Allmusic.com.

External links[edit]