Larry Williams: Age 44 | Cause Of Death: MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
(b. 10 May 1935, New Orleans, LA, d. 2 January 1980, Los Angeles)
Williams recorded a handful of raucous rock ‘n’ roll songs for Specialty Records which, among others, later influenced John Lennon. In 1954, while visiting his old home town of New Orleans, he met and was hired as pianist by Lloyd Price, who recorded for Specialty. His first record was a cover of Price’s Just Because, which reached number 11 on the R&B chart for Williams and number 3 for Price. Backed by fellow Specialty artist Little Richard’s band, Williams recorded his own Short Fat Fannie. To follow up his song about the fat girl, Williams next recorded one about a skinny girl, Bony Moronie, which was almost as big a hit. Williams had one final chart single for Specialty the following year, Dizzy, Miss Lizzy. (It was later covered by the Beatles, with Lennon singing. They also covered Slow Down and Bad Boy, while Lennon later recorded Bony Moronie and Just Because as a solo, providing Williams with steady royalties income until his death.) A number of singles and an album were issued by Specialty up until 1959 none of which were hits. That year he was arrested for selling drugs and sentenced to prison, causing Specialty to drop him and his career to fade. In January 1980, Williams was found in his Los Angeles home with a gunshot wound in the head, ruled to be self-inflicted, although it was rumoured that Williams was murdered owing to his involvement with drugs and, reportedly, prostitution.