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Roger Williams (Pianist)
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    (October 1, 1924-October 8, 2011)
    Born in Omaha, Nebraska
    Birth name was Louis Weertz
    Recorded over 100 albums
    Recorded the singles 'Autumn Leaves' (1955), 'Almost Paradise' (1957), 'Till' (1957), 'Near You' (1958) and 'Born Free' (1966)
    He took up boxing for a while, returning to music only after breaking his nose multiple times.
    He was expelled from Drake University's music program for violating their 'classics only' policy after he was overheard playing 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' in the practice room.
    He was married and divorced twice.
    He and his second wife lived in separate houses across the street from each other, which he said was necessary because of conflicting schedules.
    His music was often dismissed by critics as bland and unchallenging.
    He said, 'The only thing I have against rock 'n' roll is the volume.'
    By the time he was in high school, he was proficient on twelve instruments.
    While serving in the Navy in WWII, he was the middleweight boxing champ of his base.
    He was supposed to accompany a fellow Juilliard student who was to sing on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, but when the singer failed to show, he went on as a soloist and won the contest (1952).
    He reportedly knew 10,000 songs by heart.
    He was known as the 'Pianist to the Presidents,' having played at the White House during nine administrations, from Harry S Truman to George W. Bush.
    He was known for being approachable to fans, which he said was based on a childhood experience when he waited 45 minutes after a concert for classical pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who blew past him to his car.

Credit: C. Fishel

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