Paul Hucklebuck Williams

The motor city was not without its early rockers. Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams, whose family moved there from Kentucky in the 30's when he was 13, began playing sax in high school jazz bands. He played with one local band for a five year extended gig. In 1946, Detroit record store and label owner Joe Von Battle heard him, and hooked him up with a New Jersey label, where he recorded a hit "35-30" (the address on Detroit's Hastings Street where Battle's JVB Records was headquartered). Williams went on to record many tributes to R & B disc jockeys, such as "Swinging For Leroy," which he recorded with Wild Bill Moore for Detroit's Leroy White (see Joe Brown's page on this web site), "Waxie Maxie" for Washington D.C.'s Max Silverman, "Benson's Bounce" for Chicago's Al Benson, and "Spider Sent Me," for St. Louis' Jesse "Spider" Burks. The cast of musicians he played with is a Who's Who in early rock and roll. While his band gigged with Lucky Millinder in 1948, they put together a tune which Williams recorded that year as "The Hucklebuck," which went on to become a super-smash hit in 1949. Although the tune has been covered by dozens of artists, from Tommy Dorsey to Chubby Checker, it was Paul Williams' tune.

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As the 40's turned into the 50's and things got more rocking, Williams' music changed to fit the times, unlike that of many other musicians, and he was often a headliner for the newer generation of rock-hounds of the early 50's R&B. The cut included here is sung by a regular Hucklebucker, Danny Cobb, who hailed from Greensboro, NC. and who later owned a supper club in DC. A photo and interview of Mr. Williams made the Dec. 1, 1992 issue of Life magazine.

Visit PaulHucklebuckWilliams.com and Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams on YouTube. Thanks to Paul's granddaughter, Lisa Y. Williams for the links!

  1. Rockin' Chair Blues, 1951 (first minute)
  2. Blowin' The Boogie, 1952 (first minute)

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Paul Williams Orchestra, below, with Amos Milburn on piano in a telescription from 1954. (Click here for more information about the telescriptions.) Williams is in the center playing baritone sax.