George Williams

Tymes lead singer with hits such as 'So Much in Love'

George Reginald Williams, singer and songwriter: born Philadelphia 6 December 1935; married (one son, one daughter); died Maple Shade, New Jersey 28 July 2004.

Over the years, many American soul singers have made their home in Britain. Having topped both the US and UK charts - with "So Much in Love" in 1963 and "Ms Grace" in 1975 respectively - George Williams left the Tymes and settled in England for many years, following in the footsteps of acts like the Drifters, Edwin Starr and the Three Degrees.

Immaculately turned out and much in demand as an entertainer on the nostalgia and cabaret circuit, Williams brought the house down with renditions of the Tymes' biggest hits which also included "People" (from the 1968 film Funny Girl), "You Little Trustmaker" and "God's Gonna Punish You".

Straight out of the army where he had been nicknamed "The Fox", the smooth-sounding lead vocalist joined the Latineers, a harmony group comprising the first tenor Albert "Caesar" Berry III, second tenor George Hilliard, baritone Norman Burnett and bass singer Donald Banks, in 1961. The Philadelphia quartet had been together five years and became a more polished quintet with the addition of Williams, who was heavily influenced by the phrasing and delivery of Johnny Mathis.

In 1963, they entered a local Talent Hunt sponsored by the manufacturers of Tip Top bread and the Philadelphia radio station WDAS and made such an impression that one of the judges recommended them to Billy Jackson, the A&R director of Cameo-Parkway Records, who signed the group and renamed it the Tymes.

When the multi-tasking Jackson heard "As We Stroll Along", a work-in-progress song by George Williams, he improved on the original idea with the help of his fellow producer Roy Straigis and created the gorgeous ballad "So Much in Love". Vivian Williams, George's wife of more than 40 years, remembers that their romance was its inspiration:

When we were in our teens, I lived in South Philly and I used to sneak up to North Philly to see him. We would walk in the park and hold hands.

Released in June 1963 complete with birds and waves sound effects and finger snaps recalling the golden-era of doo-wop, "So Much in Love" caught the imagination of American teenagers and crossed over from the R&B chart to the Hot 100. By August, the song had replaced Jan and Dean's "Surf City" at the top of the US charts and made No 21 in the UK after it was featured on an edition of BBC Television's Juke-Box Jury with the Beatle John Lennon among the panellists.

Their follow-up single was a cover version of Johnny Mathis's "Wonderful! Wonderful!", which made the US Top Ten, and the next single, "Somewhere", proved a smash but the Tymes struggled to maintain their momentum and supplemented their income by doing backing vocals on recordings by other Cameo-Parkway acts. They left Cameo-Parkway for a short spell with MGM in 1966 and issued a version of the standard "These Foolish Things" on their own Winchester label before their cover of Barbra Streisand's "People" on Columbia charted on both sides of the Atlantic in 1968.

The producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who nearly signed them to their embryonic Sound of Philadelphia International label, described Williams as the finest singer they had ever heard. With Charles Nixon replacing George Hilliard the Tymes hit their stride again on RCA in 1974 with the catchy proto-disco "You Little Trustmaker" and the soulful "Ms Grace" which knocked "Down Down" by Status Quo off the No 1 slot in the UK in January 1975.

However, "God's Gonna Punish You", "It's Cool" and "Goin' Through the Motions" proved only minor hits in 1976 and Williams left the group in 1978 to settle in London and then Kent. He recorded with the British jazz-funk group the Chosen Three and delighted European audiences when performing his oldies well into the new millennium before returning to the US in 2002.

Pierre Perrone

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot