Roger Williams was a virtuoso pianist whose arpeggio-strewn hit Autumn Leaves was the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts. It still stands as the greatest selling piano recording of all time, with more than 2 million sold. He continued to record dozens of hits, including Born Free, Impossible Dream, Lara’s Theme, Nadia’s Theme, and the soundtrack for Somewhere in Time.
Known as an electrifying stage performer and an adept improviser, Williams effortlessly switched between musical styles and could touch any audience, from teenagers to senior citizens. Nick-named “Mr. Piano”, he was also pronounced, “Pianist to the Presidents”, having performed for nine commander-in-chiefs in the White House.
In 1989, Roger performed his haunting and powerful arrangement of the Phantom of the Opera at Disney’s Epcot Center. He surprised the audience when he appeared dressed up as the phantom! With Halloween approaching, let Roger’s music get you in the spirit. Listen and enjoy with the recording below.
80th Birthday Piano Marathon
On October 1st 2004, Roger and Former President Jimmy Carter mutually shared their 80th birthday at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. As tradition on his birthday, Roger played songs requested by the audience in a fully improvised piano marathon. On this day, he broke his own record and played for a full thirteen and a half hours.
Enjoy a short excerpt here from that day when Roger performed Autumn Leaves and Happy Birthday to himself and the president! You can also watch a 1 hour video of that day in the ‘videos’ section of this website.
50 Years of Born Free
This year we commemorate the 50 Year Anniversary of Born Free winning an Oscar for the ‘Best Original Music Score’. Roger Williams performed his hit record, Born Free, in this 1967 Academy Awards Ceremony production, introduced by Bob Hope.