JASON D. WILLIAMS

Born Jason Donald Williams, 28 January 1959, El Dorado, Arkansas

Since the 1950s, many singer-pianists have copied the style of Jerry Lee Lewis, both in Europe and the USA. European examples are the late Freddie 'Fingers' Lee (England), Kyle Esplin (Scotland), Stephen Ackles (Norway), Micke Muster (Sweden), Andy Lee (Germany) and Sebi Lee (Belgium). One man stands out among all these imitators : Jason D. Williams, one of the wildest live acts in 50s-styled rock n roll. He delivers the real thing, but for some reason or other, his name is not exactly a household word and his media coverage is scant.

Not only his voice and pumping piano style are reminiscent of Jerry Lee, but also his looks and mannerisms. So naturally rumours have sprung up that he might be the Killer's illegitimate son. Jason himself has done little to refute the allegations. Good publicity! Quite a few sources say that Jerry is (or might be) his biological father. Others have pointed out that Williams often takes liberties with the truth. For instance, in this interview [http://tinyurl.com/ofbmnul] he claims that one of his earliest influences was seeing Moon Mullican on the TV show 'Hee Haw'. However, Mullican died in 1967 and Hee Haw didn't start until 1969.

If we can believe Jason, he started playing the piano at the age of two. He received a piano at age three and has been playing ever since, though he never learned to read music. At the age of sixteen, Williams left his tiny hometown of El Dorado, Arkansas, to perform with Sleepy LaBeef, who had set up a base of operations in northeast Massachusetts. In the second half of the 1980s Jason decided to go solo and found a steady home at Mallards in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. In 1989 he was signed by a major label, RCA, and Jason cut one album for them, "Tore Up", in the famous Nashville Studio B. Two singles (both in the country style of Jerry Lee) were drawn from the album and both became minor country hits, first "Where There's Smoke" (# 71), followed by "Waitin' On Ice" (# 70). Up until now, these are his only chart entries. 1989 was also the year of the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic "Great Balls Of Fire". It's Williams's hands you see when Dennis Quaid played piano as Lewis.

In 1993 Jason became the first artist to sign to a renovated Sun Records, which led to his second album, "Wild", also recorded in Nashville. If ever a collection lived up to its title, it is this one. Highlights are the title track and "Pianimal" ; there's also a remarkable instrumental version of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". On the minus side, the CD has only nine tracks, but it's still highly recommended.

More albums followed in the twenty-first century, "Don't Get None Onya" (2004), "Rock All Night" (a live album, on the Icehouse label, 2004), "Killer Instincts" (2010), "Recycled" (a sort of "Best Of" 14-track compilation) and, most recently, "Hillbillies And Holy Rollers" (June 2014, on Rockabilly Records). The latter CD was produced by Dale Watson at the Sun Studio in Memphis and received a rave review (by Eric Dunsdon) in the June 2014 issue of Now Dig This. Dunsdon was especially impressed with the second track on the album, "This Is Rock n Roll". ("I haven't stopped playing it.") Apart from Jerry Lee Lewis, Williams has mentioned Moon Mullican, Al Jolson, Louis Jordan and Sister Rosetta Tharpe as influences.

Meanwhile, Jason continues to tour, especially in the Southeast, and plays more than 160 shows a year. He has also had numerous television appearances and various shows on MTV, VH1 and CMT. He has been married to Jennifer James since April 18, 2004. They have one child. Williams's principal hobbies are bird watching and running. He and his wife run marathons and half marathons. If you're not familiar with his music, check out his videos on YouTube. The man is a beast on the 88 keys, a real "pianimal".

Jason's website : http://www.rockinjasondwilliams.com/

Discography / sessionography (not fully up to date) : http://countrydiscography.blogspot.nl/search/label/Williams%20Jason%20D

CD recommendations :
All his albums are worthwhile, if you can find them, especially "Wild" (available on Spotify), "Killer Instincts" and "Hillbillies & Holy Rollers".

Acknowledgements : Frank Frantik, Jason's website, IMDB, Eric Dunsdon.

- Wild : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XVb-zSFqYM
- Pianimal : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZxeHqJ1Wok
- Dig that Boogie (live) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq6gq9Md6Hk
- Red Hot (live) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4aJSgTl2KA
- Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (live) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYqnPvUoUvk
- My New Zoot Suit : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r-A5BgIol4
- I'm On Fire (live) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htr6CRVS5cw
- One-hour show from 2009 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X4RKR1QLds
- Promo video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG1T1Qn9uXg

Dik, June 2014

 
These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at dik.de.heer@ziggo.nl

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