Album:Legends of Specialty: Larry Williams: Bad Boy
Though Larry Williams had some hits in the late 50s like Bony Maronie and Slow Down, most fans are probably more familiar with cover versions of his songs. For example, The Beatles recorded Slow Down in 1964. John Lennon was a huge Williams fan. So Williams was very influential. He was born May 10, 1935 in New Orleans and learned to play piano as a child. When his family moved to Oakland, CA, Williams was in the R & B group The Lemon Drops. He moved back to New Orleans in 1954 and worked as Lloyd Price's valet and played piano in his band. He also played with Roy Brown and Percy Mayfield. Then he met Little Richard who was recording in New Orleans for Specialty Records. Producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell signed Williams to Specialty. When Little Richard quit secular music for the ministry in 1957, Specialty tried to groom Williams for stardom. Though he had some success with songs like Bony Maronie, Short Fat Fannie and Slow Down, sales were disappointing. Slow Down was on the B-side of Dizzy Miss Lizzy but DJs flipped it over. Williams recorded some jazz sessions in 1959. And then he thrown in jail for three years in 1960 for drug dealing. One would think Williams' career was over. But bands like The Beatles started recording his songs. As I said, John Lennon was a big fan. You can get all his Specialty recordings on this budget comp. In the mid-60s, Williams was Little Richard's musical director. And he also recorded with Johnny "Guitar" Watson on OKeh Records. Williams unsuccessfully tried disco in the 70s and he was still dealing drugs. In 1977, he threatened to kill long time friend Little Richard over a drug debt. Richard quit cocaine and heroin but Williams did not and he died from an apparent suicide on Jan. 7, 1980 at age 44. Here's a video for Slow Down by Larry Williams.