Williams (Goreed,Joesph) grew up in Chicago ,where his primary influence was the gospel quartet in which he sang. He began performing professionally in 1937 and worked as a soloist in and around Chicago, occasionally singing with bands led by Jimmie Noone and others in the late 30's,and with Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton in the 40's.
He toured with Andy Kirk in 1946-7,making his first record with him in New York. He worked briefly with the Albert Ammons-Pete Johnson band, then with the Chicago band of Red Saunders, with whom he recorded under the leadership of hot lips Page in 1950.
From 1954 to 1961 he was a member of Count Basie's band, where his dramatic performance of ballads and powerful blues singing were an immediate success; among the many hit recordings he made with the group is :"Every day I have the blues"(1955). Thereafter Williams maintained a career as a soloist, appearing in clubs ,on television, and at festivals. He toured and recorded with such musicians as Harry Edison(1961-2), Junior Mance(1962-4), George Shearing(1971), and Cannonball Adderley(1973-5), and frequently rejoined Basie. He made a highly successful tour of the USA and Europe with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones in 1985. With his rich bass-baritone voice and passionate style of delivery, Williams reshaped the role of the big-band singer and brought it up to date without sacrificing his innate taste and musical imagination.
With the passing of Joe Williams on March 30 it is a somber day, We have lost a guiding light...