November 21, 1950
Newport News, Virginia
March 6, 2009
David Williams (November 21, 1950 – March 6, 2009) was an American rhythm guitarist who performed and recorded with Michael Jackson, Madonna, Herbie Hancock and the Temptations, among others.
A native of
Newport News, Virginia, Williams learned to play guitar as a child, but started his professional career with the Dells at age 18. This career was interrupted when he was drafted to serve in Vietnam. Upon returning home he hooked up with the Temptations for live gigs and eventually settled in Los Angeles to do studio work. Although he's featured on albums by Fred Frith (1974), Hodges James & Smith (1978), Phil Hurtt (1978), Linda Evans (1979), and his own project Chanson (1978); steadily growing success didn't begin until he was brought to Michael Jackson's attention by Quincy Jones for 1979's album. He was also featured on every song but one (second only to Off The Wall Tito Jackson) for The Jacksons' 1980 album; and played on Triumph The Jacksons concert tour that resulted in their 1982 The Jacksons Live! album. David Williams was a popular session guitarist on other albums for many famous artists. He was hired to play by The Pointer Sisters (1980), Peter Allen (1980), Aretha Franklin (1980) and The Four Tops (1981). In 1982, he was used once again on Michael Jackson's album, where his signature funky strumming famously anchors the end of " Thriller Billie Jean" even though he is not credited.
After the success of these projects Williams became one of the most in-demand pop music union session guitarists for the next decade, recording with
Madonna, Julio Iglesias, George Benson, The Manhattan Transfer, Michael McDonald, Melissa Manchester, The Temptations, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Shalamar, Go West, ABC, Genesis, Boz Scaggs, Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Julian Lennon, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, Johnny Mathis, Del Shannon, Chaka Khan, Paul Hardcastle , Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Lionel Richie, Jessica Simpson, Diana Ross, The Crusaders, Andraé Crouch, Eddie Murphy, Herbie Hancock, Peter Cetera, Whitney Houston, Monkey Business and more.
Though he played on a number of tours with
Michael Jackson, Madonna and others, Williams remained a behind-the-scenes union session player. David Williams died of cardiac arrest in Hampton, Virginia at age 58.
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