NPR logo

Roger Williams, 'Pianist To The Presidents,' Dead

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/141192277/141192264" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Roger Williams, 'Pianist To The Presidents,' Dead

Roger Williams, 'Pianist To The Presidents,' Dead

Roger Williams, 'Pianist To The Presidents,' Dead

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/141192277/141192264" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The song that made pianist Roger Williams famous was "Autumn Leaves." It was No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart for four weeks in 1955, the only piano instrumental in history to reach that spot. Host Audie Cornish has a remembrance of Williams, who died on Saturday.

AUDIE CORNISH, host: Pianist Roger Williams has died. This is the song that first made him famous, "Autumn Leaves." It was number one on the singles Billboard for four weeks in 1955, the only piano instrumental in history to reach that spot.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUTUMN LEAVES")

CORNISH: Roger Williams was called the Pianist to the Presidents. He played for nine of them. Well known for his renditions of songs like "Born Free" and "The Impossible Dream," Williams recorded over a hundred albums in his life. He was 87 when he died yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUTUMN LEAVES")

CORNISH: This is NPR's WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Audie Cornish.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.