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Joe Williams
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    (December 12, 1918-March 29, 1999)
    Born in Cordele, Georgia
    Birth name was Joe Goreed
    Vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra (1954-61)
    Signature song was 'Everyday I Have The Blues'
    Recurring role on The Cosby Show as Clair Huxtable's father 'Grandpa Al' Hanks
    He changed his name to avoid embarrassing his religious relatives when he started singing the blues.
    He got his first nightclub gig at a place where he cleaned the latrines and sang for tips.
    He had a nervous breakdown and underwent electroshock therapy (1947).
    Before joining Basie's band, he was supplementing his singing income by working as a Fuller Brush salesman.
    He had a two-and-a-half octave vocal range.
    Duke Ellington praised his 'perfect enunciation.'
    He won 'Down Beat' magazine's New Star Award (1955).
    He performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival 12 times and at the Chicago Playboy Jazz Festival 10 times.
    He sang 'Come Sunday' at Count Basie's funeral.
    He was named an NEA Jazz Master (1993).

Credit: C. Fishel

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