David Williams (November 21, 1950 – March 6, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer.
As a native of Newport News, Virginia, Williams was at a young age influenced by Jazz artistes such as Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery. He later started up his professional music career with the Dells. This career path was halted when he went on to serve in the Vietnam War. Upon his return in 1972 he moved to Los Angeles to reunite with the Dells. Williams also worked with the Temptations at that point. He thereafter established, with bassist James Jamerson II, an R&B group known as Chanson. Chanson went on to release the 1978 single ‘Don’t Hold Back’ which rose to 21, 11 and 8 upon the Hot 100, Dance Club and Hot R&B Songs charts respectively.
Steadily growing success didn't begin until he was brought to Michael Jackson's attention by Everett "Blood" Hollins. Upon hearing Chanson on the radio, a group Blood brought to the attention of Mark Kreiner, for 1979's Off the Wall album. He was also featured on every song but one (second only to Tito Jackson) for the Jackson's' 1980 Triumph album; and played on the Jackson's concert tour that resulted in their 1981 The Jackson's Live!album. Mark Kreiner was called to New York by Tom Cossie when "Blood" was shopping a record deal for "CHIC". Cossie was VP for Buddah Records and they were broke, So Cossie got Kreiner to guarantee the Money, and "Blood" asked David, "did he want a record Deal. The rest was history.
David Williams was a popular session guitarist on other albums for many notable recording artists. He was hired to play by The Pointer Sisters (1980), Peter Allen (1980), Aretha Franklin (1980) and the Four Tops (1981). In 1982, he was used once again on Michael Jackson's Thriller album, where his signature funky strumming and a minimalist solo famously anchor "Billie Jean". Williams also performed on Jackson's Bad album (1987).
After the success of these projects Williams became one of the most in-demand pop music union session guitarists for the next decade, recording with Madonna, Julio Iglesias, George Benson, the Manhattan Transfer, Michael McDonald, Melissa Manchester, the Temptations, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Shalamar, Go West, ABC, Genesis, Boz Scaggs, Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Julian Lennon, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Johnny Mathis, Del Shannon, Chaka Khan, Paul Hardcastle, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Lionel Richie, Jessica Simpson, Diana Ross, the Crusaders, Andraé Crouch, Eddie Murphy, Herbie Hancock, Peter Cetera, Whitney Houston, Monkey Business and more.
Though he played on a number of tours with Michael Jackson, Madonna and others, Williams remained a behind-the-scenes union session player. Williams died of cardiac arrest on March 6, 2009, in Hampton, Virginia at age 58, 3 months before Jackson's death also from cardiac arrest.
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