DIARY - 31 JULY 2007 - LAWTON WILLIAMS OBITUARY
WILLIAMS RIP @ 85
TROY, TENNESSEE - JULY 24, 1922
DIED FORT WORTH, TEXAS - JULY 26, 2007
FIDDLING FOR FRAULEINS AND GEISHA GIRLS
fiddler's son Lawton Williams long ago learned the value of writing
songs for the hearts and souls of servicemen and their families.
It was while stationed in Houston, Texas, with the U.S. Army during
World War 11 he wrote two of his major hits Fraulein and Geisha
So it was no surprise both chart-toppers were healthy earners when
first recorded and later revived by a raft of artists during later
like many peers, lived in the shade of his songs as they were hits for
So when he died of a respiratory illness two days after his 85th birthday
at the Harris Hospital in Fort Worth (Cowtown) it was his songs that once
again were his legacy.
Although Williams first recorded in the forties his tunes are still covered
in the new millenium.
Bobby Helms version of Fraulein topped country charts for four
weeks in 1957 and reached #16 on the pop sales graph.
The song, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, had a 52-week reign on
Williams wrote Colour Of The Blues - a 1958 #10 hit for co-writer
George Jones - and later covered by Elvis Costello And The Attractions
and James Gwynn.
Texan Gene Watson also had a hit in 1979 with oft-recorded Williams tune
Farewell Party - reprised by Joe Nichols on his 2004 album Revelation.
Williams, who had 140 songs on the BMI Publishing site, was still writing
shortly before he passed away.
Writing just came naturally to Williams, said his daughter, Janet Steen.
"He would just get an idea about something and then write a song
around the idea," said Steen.
"He was writing while he was in the hospital. He was saying words
to himself; you could see his mouth moving. What we want him to be remembered
for are the songs he wrote."
TROY TO TEXAS
was born - the son of a fiddler - in Troy, Tennessee, in the early twenties.
But it wasn't until he was stationed in Houston during World War 11 that
he learned to write songs.
Under the tutelage of recently deceased, legendary Oklahoma born singer-songwriter
Floyd Tillman, he became a prolific writer.
Western swing maestro Cliff Bruner and Laura Lee McBride were among first
artists to record the songs he performed live on radio stations.
"I grew up a country boy listening to the Grand Ole Opry," Williams
revealed in the biography for his 2003 album Mending Fences on
the indie label Tima.
"My first heroes were Opry star, Roy Acuff, and cowboy movie star
Gene Autry. At an early age, I knew that working on a sharecropper farm
was not what I wanted to do with my life, so I learned to play the guitar
and singing just came naturally. During World War II, while in the army,
I had the good fortune to meet and become friends with Country Music Hall
of Fame member, Floyd Tillman. Floyd helped me a lot in becoming a songwriter
and writing some successful songs."
Williams began recording for Sultan and Fortune labels in the late 1940s
and signed with Four Star, Coral and Imperial.
Williams also recorded for All Star, Decca, Groove, King, Mega, Allstar,
Mercury, Le Bill and RCA.
He hit the charts in the sixties with recordings of Anywhere's There's
A People and Everything's OK On The LBJ.
Williams also appeared on the Heart of Texas Records' tribute disc to
Tillman called The Influence.
He recorded It Just Tears Me Up with Tillman who died of leukemia
at the age of 88 on August 30, 2003, at his home near Houston.
The original song, written by Lawton in 1960, was Floyd's last chart single.
"As long as country music fans want to hear traditional country music,
that's what I'll be writing and recording," Williams said.
GEORGE JONES CAREER BOOST
was always very, very nice and a real talent," Jones 75 recalled
"He finished up Colour of the Blues with me, and wrote
one of my all-time favourite songs, Fraulein.''
About every third album, Jones wants to re-cut that song, which he
Equally enthusiast was another Jones hit writer and producer Bobby
"He was pushing all the right country music buttons for that
era," Braddock added.
"He was writing songs that were unique and original and that
were hard country at a time when so much country was being influenced
by rock and roll and rockabilly. He was a great songwriter and he
certainly was an influence on the country part of me."
Texan troubadour Townes Van Zandt earlier covered Fraulein on his
1972 disc The Late Great Townes Van Zandt.
Other artists to cut it included David Allan Coe, George Jones, Charlie
Feathers, Al Dean, Mickey Gilley, Little Roy Wiggins, Mason Williams and
Mom And Dads.
"They called the song the Texas national anthem because it was such
a great two-step song," Braddock said.
"The people who had been overseas after World War II and stationed
in Germany and dated German girls identified with that song. He did the
same thing for those who had been stationed in Japan was Geisha Girl."
Hank Locklin had a #10 hit with Geisha Girl in 1957.
Jim Reeves also cut Williams tune Senor Santa Claus for his first Christmas
album - Bobby Bare's first single Shame On Me was also a Williams
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY
240 song BMI catalogue was a salient signpost to his sense of humour.
The unsung originals begin with Adam And Everett, Aspen Trail,
Asphalt Cowboy and Angels Over Baghdad.
In between were Jesus Dot Com, Peanuts In Heaven, Ruby The Red
Eyed Rabbit, Santa Claus Junior and Squawlein.
They ended with What Noah Looked Out The Ark At, Wooden Soldier,
You Can't Crush A Heart Of Stone and Your Heart Is Beginning
recorded seven 20 RCA singles - including 1963 releases Rock Of Gibraltar
and Don't Destroy Me - and Mama Doll and Farewell Party
on Le Bill in 1960.
recent solo album was Mending Fences 2003.
Williams was a frequent performer in his prime on Louisiana Hayride and
The Big D Jamboree.
His songs also appeared on The Big D Jamboree Live - Complete D Singles
Volume 3 - 2000.
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