Griff Williams

b. 1911, La Grande, Oregon, USA, d. February 1959, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Williams studied at Stanford University and formed his first dance band on campus. His first professional employment came alongside…
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Artist Biography

b. 1911, La Grande, Oregon, USA, d. February 1959, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Williams studied at Stanford University and formed his first dance band on campus. His first professional employment came alongside Anson Weeks during his tenure at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, playing second piano. The experience encouraged him to put together his own orchestra, which was founded in San Francisco. The line-up in this first incarnation of the band included Gene McDonald, Horace Perazzi, Ray Anderson, Albert Arnold, Jack Buck, Paul Hare, Buddy Moreno, Walter Kelsey, Bob Logan and Warren Luce. Williams himself played piano, with the featured vocalist Coralee Scott, later replaced by a succession of singers including Buddy Moreno, Lois Lee and the Williams Trio. Their first engagement came at Edgewater Beach, where the group opened in October 1933. From the outset they styled themselves so as to appeal to hotel audiences, touring such venues almost exclusively during their active life. Included in these engagements were frequent visits to the Mark Hopkins Hotel where Williams had once played with Weeks. They also played regularly at the Stevens Hotel after the band had settled in the Chicago area during 1939. They continued to play there throughout the war years. By the end of the 30s a radically different ensemble had been recruited with Bill Clifford, Don Mulford, Walter King, Bob Kirk and Lyle Gardner among the personnel. During this time contracts with Varsity, OKeh and Columbia Records produced a number of recordings including the band’s theme tune, ‘Dream Music’. Williams stayed with the band until their playing opportunities began to dwindle in 1953. At that point he joined the Haywood Publishing Company, taking charge of the launch of several successful business magazines. However, he continued to appear occasionally with impromptu versions of the orchestra, before his professional commitments prevented further engagements. He became vice president of Haywood and then one of its directors, before dying of a heart attack in 1959.