Spencer Williams (October 14, 1889 – July 14, 1965)

Spencer Williams (October 14, 1889 – July 14, 1965)

Spencer Williams (born October 14, 1889, New Orleans, United States – died July 14, 1965, Flushing, New York, United States) was an American jazz and popular music composer, pianist, and singer, known for his hit songs Basin Street Blues, I Ain't Got Nobody, Royal Garden Blues, I've Found a New Baby, Everybody Loves My Baby, Tishomingo Blues and many others.


Life and career

Spencer Williams was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 14, 1889, studying at the local St. Charles University before relocating to Chicago in 1907. Williams began his career as a piano player in saloons, eventually graduating to more sophisticated venues.

About 1916 he moved to New York City. After arriving in New York, he co-wrote several songs with Anton Lada of the Louisiana Five. Among those songs was Basin Street Blues.

Williams toured Europe with bands from 1925 to 1928. He traveled to Paris in 1925 and wrote for Josephine Baker and La Revue Negre; returning to the U.S. three years later, he later sang and played on sessions with Lonnie Johnson and Teddy Bunn. At the end of the 1920s, Williams was tried but then acquitted on a charge of murder.

Williams was married to Pat Castleton (a stage name of Agnes Bage). They had two daughters together called Della and Lindy.

In 1936, he settled in England, collaborating with Benny Carter on When Lights Are Low; after spending the better part of the 1950s in Sweden, Williams returned stateside in 1957, dying in New York on July 14, 1965.

Hit songs

Williams wrote or co-wrote over 100 songs, including I Ain’t Got Nobody (and Nobody Cares for Me) with Roger Graham (1915) and Royal Garden Blues with his brother Clarence Williams (1919). Careless Love (1921) was penned with W.C. Handy and Martha Koehler. Everybody Loves My Baby (1924) and I’ve Found a New Baby (1926) are both hits written with Jack Palmer. Williams wrote both the words and music for Basin Street Blues (1928) and collaborated with Benny Carter on the beautiful ballad, When Lights Are Low. His Tishomingo Blues (1917) serves as Garrison Keillor’s theme for A Prairie Home Companion.


You can find and download free scores of the composer:


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