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Curley Williams

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Biography

b. Doc Williams, 3 June 1913, Southern Georgia, USA, d. 5 September 1970, USA. Williams was christened Doc because family legend maintained that the seventh child would be a doctor. Little is known of Williams’ early life, but in the early 40s, instead of being a doctor, he was the fiddle-playing leader of a western swing band on WALD Albany, Georgia. In December 1942, with his Sante Fe Riders, he arrived at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where George D. Hay saw fit to change both his and his band’s name to avoid confusion with Doc Williams And His Border Riders, who were then an established act on WWVA’s Wheeling Jamboree. Williams’ hair provided one simple suggestion and, being a native of Georgia (the Peach State), he became Curley Williams And His Georgia Peach Pickers. They began playing networked Grand Ole Opry shows in September 1943, and made their first recordings for Columbia Records in 1945 (the delay was caused by the recording ban operating at that time). Between 1945 and 1948, they relocated to play the dancehall circuits on the west coast and even appeared in a Charles Starrett B-movie Western, Riders Of The Lone Star, in 1947. In the late 40s, they also starred on The Louisiana Hayride. Williams wrote ‘Half As Much’, which he recorded in 1951, at his band’s last Columbia session and in 1952, Hank Williams took the song to number 2 in the US country charts. There has been confusion over the years, with many assuming Hank Williams, who was in fact no relation but was a friend of Curley’s, to be the writer of the song (the song became a million-seller for Rosemary Clooney, and was also recorded successfully in the UK by Alma Cogan and Lita Rosa). During his years with Columbia, Williams also provided backing on various other artists’ recordings, including on one occasion, Fred Rose, who at the time was recording for the label as the Rambling Rogue. In the early 50s, Williams and his band played regularly on theSmoky Mountain Jamboree in Georgia and for a time did sponsored shows on WSFA Montgomery, Alabama, until, in 1954, Williams tired of the showbusiness life and retired.

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