Roger Williams died at his Los Angeles home at the age of 87.
Williams is best known not only for his skills at the piano but also for who he’s played for. Williams has reportedly played for nine U.S. presidents over his career.
His first presidential performance was for Harry Truman. Williams would go on to perform for every president through George H.W. Bush with his last trip to the White House in 2008, when he performed for Laura Bush.
Besides being a president favorite, Williams also was a favorite with Billboard Magazine— Billboard ranks him as the top selling piano recording artist in history with 18 gold and platinum albums to his credit.
Also noteworthy, Williams topped the Billboard popular music chart for his 1955 hit “Autumn Leaves.” The song became the only piano instrumental to reach No.1 on the Billboard pop charts and remains the best-selling piano record of all time, with over 2 million sold. In 1966 he had another Top Ten hit with “Born Free” and others including “Maria” and “Yellow Bird.”
The Nebraska native started playing piano at 3-years-old and by his teen years he had his own radio show. Later, Williams hosted a radio program where he met sports announcer and future president, Ronald Reagan. His career took him to New York, where he graduated from Juilliard School of Music and went on to become one of the most successful pianists to date.
With the Associated Press.