By Gary: “Here is a singer/songwriter from Art Rupe’s Specialty Records stable that had loads of talent. He also had some personal problems and lack of discipline in his life, but still he wrote some great songs and I remember at dances in 1957 everyone new the words to Short Fat Fannie.
Larry Williams was an R&B and rock-and-roll singer who also wrote songs and played piano. His career might have had more impact had he not allegedly become seriously involved with the drug scene.
Larry was born in New Orleans in 1935. He wanted to be in the music business and apparently worked for a time as a valet to Lloyd Price, which led to his recording for Specialty after moving to the West Coast and learning to play piano.
Larry played piano in Lloyd Price’s band in the early 50’s. He also worked in bands that were headed by Roy Brown and Percy Mayfield.
Williams moved to the West Coast and learned to play piano. His first big hit was Short Fat Fannie, on Specialty. It was a wild party song somewhat similar to the songs that Little Richard was doing at the that time.
Short Fat Fannie reached #5 and established Larry Williams as a serious rock-and-roll performer in 1957. He followed it up with Bony Moronie later that year, backed with You Bug Me, Baby.
He also had a lesser hit with Dizzy Miss Lizzie, a song that would later be covered by the Beatles.
After that Larry didn’t have much success selling records. He recorded a number of songs in 1958 and 1959, including Heeby Jeebies, with band members such as Plas Johnson on tenor sax and Alvin “Red” Tyler on baritone, Barney Kessel on guitar, Gerald Wilson on trumpet, Ernie Freeman or Larry himself on piano, and Earl Palmer on drums.
Williams was convicted of dealing narcotics in 1960, setting back his career considerably.
He came back in 1962 with a band that included Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and toured the United Kingdom. His shows were taped and resulted in the album The Larry Williams Show.
In the late 60’s Larry had some minor hits on the Okeh label with Johnny Watson, one of which was Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. He attempted a comeback as a disco singer in the late 70’s, but met with little success.
On January 7, 1980, Larry Williams died from a gunshot wound.