Friday, 28 September 2012

Andy Williams - may each day of the week be a good one...

'Depending on your age and race, Andy Williams' 1961 rendition of "Moon River" was either a transcendent embodiment of timeless beauty, or one of the more conservative, white-bread recordings of its time. Either your Christmas sparkled brighter because of his annual TV special, or it ruined an otherwise relaxing night. You loved or hated his taste in sweaters.'  (Los Angeles Times obit 26th Sept 2012)
Andy Williams - educating the Osmond Brothers in The Way of the Sweater.

Whilst most nostalgia for the 1960s revels in images of hippiedom, Woodstock and Swinging London, there was also a more "conservative" aspect - the cosy sixties, if you like - which thrived and contributed to the bipolar culture of the decade.
Andy Williams with his first wife, Claudine Longet and their three children.
Andy Williams represented a sixties that, rather than kicking against the previous generation, saw itself as the natural progression from them... more stylish, more laid back. Along with Burt Bacharach, Andy Williams stood for the kind of sixties your parents would be glad to have you bring home.

Having started his singing career, aged 8, as one of the  Williams Brothers Quartet, (their first hit being "Swinging on a Star", recorded with Bing Crosby in 1944), Andy Williams's solo career gained him international fame and his own weekend variety show. 

The Andy Williams Show was so successful it was imitated by stars on both sides of the Atlantic (all of us of a certain age will either experience a glow in the stomach or a throbbing in the temples at the mention of The Val Doonican Show - one of the imitators).

The show featured a comforting standard format - songs, comedy (gently humorous sketches, featuring the host), and a weekly guest star).  This last slot gave opportunities to a surprising range of up and coming acts including The Carpenters, but most significantly, introduced many black American acts to a wider audience (included here, The Temptations, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips).
Andy with Sonny and a pre-op Cher - hands up if you preferred her that way.

Politically, Williams was friend and supporter of the Kennedys, and would later lead protests against plans by the Nixon administration to deport John Lennon.

This sense of personal integrity and loyalty was also evidenced when, in 1976, his by then ex-wife, Claudine Longet was charged with shooting dead her boyfriend. Andy Williams not only testified as to her character, but also financed her legal backing and escorted her to court appearances.

Andy Williams may have represented a less edgy and far from iconoclastic aspect of the sixties, but the legacy of the man and of his music provides much to be admired.

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