Andy Williams Was a Classic Crooner and the Easy-Listening King

Andy Williams, the Grammy-winning singer who died Wednesday at age 84, was controversial in his day. His ultra-smooth crooning style clashed with the emerging rock and roll era. But Williams outperformed the controversy and launched the careers of many other musical artists. His best recordings will live forever.

Growing up in the '60s, it was hard to miss Andy Williams. He was a constant television presence in the '60s and '70s, with a prime time variety show and annual Christmas specials. His easy-listening classic "Moon River" has been covered by R.E.M., the Killers, and Barbara Streisand. 

I used to dread "Andy Williams time" growing up. He was my grandmother's favorite singer, and his slow, easy-going songs and gentle voice were completely lost on a small, active child. There was no way I had the patience to sit through "Moon River" or similar songs. 

Andy Williams launched many of the most popular groups of the late '60s and early '70s, including the Jackson 5 featuring Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Temptations, and the Supremes. The Osmond Brothers got their start on Williams' show, which led to numerous spin-off shows and separate/together careers for Donny and Marie.


Andy Williams kept his show free from controversy, but it wasn't because he only featured traditional, family-oriented artists like the Osmonds. Elton John made his American TV debut on Williams' show, performing "Heaven Help Us All" with Ray Charles, Cass "Mama Cass" Elliott, and Williams.


Williams was a much-loved figure in the recording industry, and was the first host of the Grammy Awards. In addition to starting many new careers on his variety show, he appeared with classic performers like Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Tony Bennett.


Singers like Michael Buble and Josh Groban don't just owe their style to inspirations like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. They owe their style to graceful, gracious Andy Williams.

I was too young to appreciate Andy Williams' singing when I was young. Now, listening to his music, I realize how classy and awesome he always was.

He was funny, too. And Elke Sommer was hot!


How much do you trust the information in this article?

Amy Sterling Casil

I am a professional writer and college teacher. My most recent book is Female Science Fiction Writer (http://www.amazon.com/Female-Science-Fiction-Writer-ebook/dp/B008E95D2E) a major short fiction collection. I am a 5th generation Southern California native, and have a colorful heritage in my mother's and my father's families. I have a huge, wonderful exuberant family, including a beautiful daughter and I am very grateful for every opportunity I have had. I have a Jack Russell Terrier named Gambit (Badger died, Gambit is a new rescue) and have always disliked rubber bands. I'm an old school Republican by registration but probably a Libertarian in sentiment. I have a very varied professional background and have been known to raise a few funds in my day. I should add that I am award-nominated fiction writer, have published 26 books, and have two BAs from Scripps College, Claremont, CA and an MFA from Chapman University, Orange, CA. I do professional business consulting and planning and am Founder and CEO of Pacific Human Capital.

MORE FROM

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”