David Williams – – Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music 1986 – 2009
The sudden death of David Williams has been a great shock to Bryan Ferry, his family, and all the musicians and studio staff here in London. David has been a key part of his recording and touring band since the Bete Noire sessions in 1986. As well as being an outstanding player, David had become a close part of his musical family. His warmth of personality, infectious humour and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by all who knew him. David had played extensively on his forthcoming album, and was expected to be a key part of his future touring plans.
After playing on the 2007 album Dylanesque, David encountered some unexpected legal problems which unfortunately kept him stranded in the USA, and made it impossible for him to join the touring band. We at the studio were in close touch and were very hopeful that his travel restrictions were about to be lifted and that he would soon be able to work abroad again. There were also plans for him to do further recording with us in the next few months.
Music had always been a part of David’s life. Born in Virginia and schooled in Jazz on the works of Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery, one of his first professional gigs was with the legendary group, The Dells. He toured with them extensively, until the Vietnam War took him off the road and into a much different tour of duty. He served until 1972.
David then moved to Los Angeles to continue his musical career. He rejoined The Dells, and word began to spread about his outstanding abilities. He worked with the Temptations, and also started his own band, Chanson, with whom he scored a top ten hit, ‘Don’t Hold Back’ – a song that showcased his writing and vocal abilities. David became much in demand as a road and studio musician, and soon met up with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. David performed on the Off The Wall, Thriller, Triumph, Victory, Bad and Dangerous albums – the most successful albums in recorded history. Michael was even quoted as saying “I can hardly work without you”. David toured with Michael Jackson extensively, and was the producer and musical director of his Super Bowl 1993 appearance, one of the most watched television events in the last twenty years.
From coordinating the musicians for Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour, to writing and/or producing cuts for Earth, Wind & Fire, The Jacksons, George Howard and Boz Scaggs, David established himself not only as a rhythm guitar player of unparalleled talent, but also as a writer and producer.
David Williams was introduced to Bryan Ferry by Pat Leonard during the recording of the Bete Noire album in 1986, and they had worked closely ever since. His distinctive guitar lines became a major part of the Bryan Ferry sound. He is credited on the albums Bete Noire, Taxi, Mamouna, Frantic, and Dylanesque. His guitar performance is an integral part of tracks like ‘Don’t Want To Know’, ‘Kiss And Tell’, ‘Limbo’ and most notably ‘I Put A Spell On You’. He also did backing vocals on ‘N.Y.C.’ David toured extensively with Bryan Ferry and even joined the Roxy Music Tour of 2005, giving a new dimension to the live Roxy Music sound. Many long-time fans came away from the Liverpool show raving about David’s impromptu solo during ‘The Bogus Man’, claiming it to be one of the best Roxy Music moments they had seen in over 30 years of following the band.
Our deepest sympathies go to his family, and all who knew him.