ROGER WILLIAMS

 

Born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 1, 1924 - Louis Wertz (Weertz), now known as Roger Williams has become one of the most popular and decorated musicians ever to come out of the State of Nebraska. =20 Named the greatest selling pianist in history by Billboard Magazine, Roger Williams has an astounding 18 Gold and Platinum albums to his credit. Williams has played the music that has served as the soundtrack to the lives of three generations. In 2004, he released his 116th album on Universal, The Best of Roger Williams, 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection. Williams burst onto the popular music scene in 1955 when he recorded the only piano instrumental to ever have reached #1 on the Billboard singles charts - Autumn Leaves. His version became an American classic and still stands as the greatest selling piano recording of all time. Williams followed with more million-selling records. Born Free, The Impossible Dream, Til, Almost Paradise, Maria, Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago, and the theme from Somewhere in Time, are only some of the 22 hits spanning four different decades. A graduate of Iowa State University., Drake University and the Julliard School of Music, Williams first played the piano when he was three years of age. Additional career highlights include playing with the major symphony orchestras across the country. He has performed at every major venue, including Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the White House. The latter has earned him the title of "Pianist to the Presidents" having played for eight chief executives. The first pianist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Williams is also the first (and so far only) artist to receive the Steinway Lifetime Achievement Award and was featured at Carnegie Hall for Steinway's 150th Anniversary Celebration. A recent television special for PBS brought in more than a million dollars in viewer contributions. Starting as a celebration of life in 2000 playing at various presidential libraries, Williams recently broke the record for the longest piano-playing marathon. During 2004 Williams continued the tradition and celebrated his 80th birthday, along with Former President Carter at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum where he logged an astounding 13 1/2 hours of exhaustive pianoforte on October 1. One consuming passion for Williams is to permanently secure a place for music and music education in all schools. It is imperative to Williams that music does not get left behind and lost to an entire generation. He is known to open his rehearsals to offer the children a behind-the-scenes look as well as answer questions they may have. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) named Williams "Champion for Youth 2004", an honor Williams was especially proud to receive in addition to his many honorary doctorates. Williams, living in Encino, CA in 2004, is the father of three and grandfather of five. His charm, energy and blazing keyboard velocity, as well as, his masterful musicianship continue to thrill audiences worldwide. =20 Williams was inducted to the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame on October 29, 2004 on the first night of a 3-Day Concert run with the Omaha Symphony at the historic Orpheum Theatre. Welcome home...Roger Williams.