Danny Williams (singer)
Danny Williams (7 January 1942 – 6 December 2005) was a South African pop singer. Williams earned the nickname, "Britain's Johnny Mathis", for his smooth and stylish way with a ballad. He is best known for singing his UK number 1 version of "Moon River" in 1961 and his US top ten hit, "White on White".
Born in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Williams won a talent contest at the age of 14 and joined a touring show called Golden City Dixies that played throughout South Africa. In 1959, the show came to London where Williams impressed EMI's Norman Newell, who signed the young singer to a recording contract. He was to spend most of his life in the United Kingdom, where at first he made a few moderately successful singles, mainly popular ballads, before scoring a Number One hit with his cover version of "Moon River" in 1961. To this day it remains his most famous record which he re-recorded for a self-titled album "Danny Williams" issued in the UK by Contour Records in 1972. It led to his appearance in a film about a pop group, directed by Michael Winner, called Play It Cool (1962) which starred Billy Fury. In 1963, Williams joined a 20-city tour which starred Helen Shapiro and featured the Beatles as a support act on the bill; like many other ballad singers of the day, he was swept away by the new beat group era.
Williams had no more major British hits, even though "White On White" became popular abroad and was his only US Top Ten hit, charting in 1964 (#9 Pop, #3 MOR). He continued to record for HMV until 1967 while working the nightclub circuit. In 1968, he had a nervous breakdown and was declared bankrupt two years later. However, he resumed his singing career in the early 1970s, achieving a Top 30 success with "Dancin' Easy" in 1977. In the early 1990s he recorded for Prestige Records and subsequently starred in a Nat "King" Cole tribute show which made several British tours. Compilations of his early recordings, including "Moon River", have been issued on CD.
He died in December 2005 of lung cancer, at the age of 63. Williams was married three times, and is survived by his two daughters (Natali and Melody Williams) and two sons, the actor Anthony Barclay and Michael Stewart.
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