Andre “Mr Rhythm” Williams, who had been in declining health for the past couple of years, passed away on March 17th, 2019. We’ve lost someone who it was a singular joy to call both a hero and a friend. Thanks, Dre.
Andre was an R&B legend, and you may not even know it. He wrote "Shake A Tail Feather," and sang such uber-raunch cult classics as "Bacon Fat" (covered by the Cramps), "Greasy Chicken," and the epitome of songs about little girls, "Jail Bait." He worked at seminal labels such as Motown, Chess, and Fortune. He wrote songs for, or produced folks Ike Turner, Parliament/Funkadelic, Edwin Starr and Stevie Wonder. The guy was like music's version of Zelig; he's been everywhere, man. Yeah, baby.
After a few hard years in... er... retirement, he stormed back in the late 90's with a record of smutty garage punk called Silky recorded with members of the Demolition Doll Rods and the Dirtbombs. Since then he has recorded with the Sadies, Jon Spencer, The New Orleans Hellhounds, Two-Star Tabernacle (which included a very young Jack White) and many others. His resurgence of popularity (and notoriety) continued as he toured the world, bringing his singular, yet chameleon-like style to a whole new world of unsuspecting admirers.
He was the subject of a documentary, Agile, Mobile, Hostile that premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival. Andre told it like it is, and if you got all bashful and shit with the blue language, you might've wanted to steer clear—the guy could make Redd Foxx (who gave him his nickname, by the way) look like Mr. Rogers. Don't let the shtick fool you, though, the man put together some of the most bad-ass soul shakers in the history of music. He stripped away all the bells and whistles and shoots musical arrows right to your goodie spot. Music at its most feral.
Also, Andre's shows generally featured at least one costume change. That can't be said about a lot of folks these days.
- CHUCK PROPHET covers Andre's song "Dirt" on While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
- "Stranger In My Country" on Roger Knox & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts' Stranger In My Land
- "Glue" w/ Sally Timms on Down to the Promised Land: 5 Years of Bloodshot Records
- "Lily White Mama/Jet Black Daddy" and "Ramblin' Man" w/ 2-Star Tabernacle both on Making Singles, Drinking Doubles
- "Shake a Tail Feather" with The Sadies on For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot