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
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory Solicitor / Compliance Manager - Surrey

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - SENIOR POSITION - An excellent senio...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound & Outbound Sales Agent

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Inbound & Outbound Sales Age...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Urgent - Cheshire - £25p/h

£20 - £25 per hour: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a hu...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea