Gary James' Interview With
Andy Williams








He's won three Emmys and been nominated five times for Grammys, been selected as Billboard's Best Male Vocalist three times, had eleven of his singles placed in Columbia Record's Hall of Fame and recorded seventeen albums that went Gold, for Columbia. His album "Days of Wine and Roses" was named by Billboard magazine as "Best Vocal Album of the Year" and "Moon River" might be considered his theme song. By now, you probably guessed we're talking about Andy Williams.

He's recognized as one of the world's most popular singers and has performed to sell out crowds the world over. President Reagan once said, "Andy Williams, I think we'll have to declare your voice a national treasure."

Q - Andy, you might be interested in knowing that Rush Limbaugh mentioned your name on his radio show the other day. He was talking about the new study that found men who are 5' 7" tall have a greater chance of getting a heart attack, "unless you're Andy Williams and you wear elevator shoes."

A - I don't know why he would say that. I guess it's like a Mickey Rooney joke. There are certain people you target I guess for certain kinds of jokes. There are short jokes, and you use people like Dudley Moore, or me, or a lot of people. Or Dustin Hoffman. Or Perry Como. I don't know why he picked me. I've never worn elevator shoes in my life. It doesn't bother me. I'm more concerned with the fact that he plays "Born Free" and shoots machine guns, cannons, and shotguns, during his animal activist session. He plays my recording of "Born Free." I certainly wouldn't kill an animal and I don't eat meat, but that's just because I don't think it particularly good for me. I don't feel strongly one way or the other whether he does it. It's like saying I hate Johnny Carson, because he said something bad about George Bush. Comedians do that. I don't put Rush Limbaugh in the category of comedian, but he does some funny things. I don't care enough about him to worry about it. There's a lot more important things in life than what people say about you.

Q - You started out singing with your brothers and then you went off on your own. Did your brothers stay in showbiz?

A - Yeah, my brother Dick, who was just a little bit older than I am, went with the Harry James Band for two years. Then he went on to the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show that was on in the daytime. At the same time, I was doing the Steve Allen Tonight Show from New York. My brother Don became an agent. He handles Country acts, mainly Ray Stevens. And my brother Bob went into the real estate business, the smart one.

Q - But people always want to hear a song.

A - I think singers are gonna be around for a long time, it's just that as I mentioned, the styles change. Now Rap music is the most popular among young people. It gets the most radio play. I don't like Rap very much. But, that will go and something else will come in. The young people always have their day with their kind of music. Fortunately for me, when I was recording, I was in the mainstream. That was the kind of music the kids were buying. Before that, it was the Big Band singers.

Q - On your new album, "Nashville", who ultimately decides what songs you will record for the record, you or the producer?

A - Well, the producer decided what the ten songs were going to be on the album. But he also insisted that I like all of the ten and that I had to pick the songs. So he sat me down in his office and every 20 minutes he brought in a new publisher with songs. And this went on for days. And I sat there for hours, listening to songs. Of the hundreds I heard, I picked out 30 that I really liked and I eliminated a lot of 'em as we went along. Out of the songs that I really liked, he (the record producer), picked out ten that he thought had the best chance in the Country market.

Q - How do you know though, when a song is right for you?

A - I know songs that I like. He felt it was very important that I like these Country songs. I really liked them, for obvious reasons. They had great lyrics and a beautiful melody. And they were songs that touched me and I felt that I could do well.

Q - Do you ever get a feeling, as you're recording a song, that this is going to be a hit?

A - Well, you can have that in your mind, but in this Country market, I'm not that familiar with this Country market that well. Jimmy Bowen, who is one of the most successful Country producers in the world, (and producer of Andy Williams " Nashville") I rely a great deal on his judgment. I feel very good about the songs I recorded.

Q - When did you decide to put this Christmas Show of yours together and how did you know there would be enough interest in it?

A - I knew there would be enough interest in it because when the networks wouldn't put my Christmas Show on anymore, I got tens of thousands of letters from people, telling me how much they missed the Christmas Show. I got so many letters that I showed the networks and got a deaf ear as I was talking. So I decided to take it out on the road, that there was a demand for this kind of show. And nobody was doing a Christmas Show 'live'. Most people weren't working during Christmas. So, I tried it and it was very successful. I've done it now, eight years in a row, and it's my favorite thing that I do.

Q - What can people expect to see in your Christmas Show? You have a lot of props?

A - We have a lot of props. We have a big orchestra. We have a lot of sound, a lot of good sound. We have a lot of beautiful lights that we supply, not the theatre. We have about 35 people that travel, 24 in the orchestra. So, it's a big sized orchestra. We have snow and trees on the stage and presents and children come up out of the audience and sing with me. We have a big choir. At the end of the show, people sing along on Carols. It's a joyous kind of happy, funny Christmas Show. Its two hours long. I don't like to have an intermission. I don't think people want to come see somebody and not see them for an hour.

Q - I imagine it's expensive to put a show like this out on the road.

A - Well, it is expensive, but that's why we have to do so many of them. We do 30 cities. Advertising it over those days, we come out all right. It is expensive just to travel, house and feed 35 people. It's not easy. We have two trucks that carry lights and sound and we have two buses for the orchestra and crew and we have a plane that carries some of us around. It isn't as big of a production as Rock 'n' Roll shows, but Rock 'n' Roll shows can't move to a different city every day. They generally have days off.



© Gary James. All rights reserved.


Andy Williams


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