June 28, 2011


‘Swamp Dogg’ happy with his music, obscurity (Chris Richards, Published: June 24, 2011, Washington Post)

[B]efore he became an outsider, Williams spent two formative years as an insider. In 1968, he signed a contract with Atlantic Records, both as an artist and an A&R man, making him the first black producer for a major record label. He worked with Patti Labelle, Gary U.S. Bonds and the Drifters. He was tutored by Atlantic super-producers Tom Dowd and Jerry Wexler. He claims to have encouraged Commodores saxophonist Lionel Richie to forget about his horn and pick up a microphone. And he didn’t like his job.

“I didn’t realize I was in a corporate setting,” Williams says of his big start. “I didn’t realize I was supposed to be biting the back of the guy in front of me to get his position and continue on up the ladder. . . . Basically, I didn’t fit.”

So he decided to get himself fired.

“Gary U.S. Bonds and I went down to Miami [for a recording session] and ran up the expenses,” Williams says. “At that time, it was astronomical. We must have spent four or five thousand dollars on hotels and cars and parties and another eight or nine thousand on recording.”

The plan worked even better than Williams had hoped. “They gave me a one-month severance check,” he says. “Which was more money than I’d ever had in my life, with those four weeks together.”

He poured the cash into a fresh musical start, but not before tweaking his image. After years of watching the likes of Jackie Wilson, Chuck Jackson and Tommy Hunt charm so many young female fans, Williams decided he’d never be a heartthrob.

"When I walked onstage they'd be putting on two, three pairs of drawers," he says.

So he rebranded himself as Swamp Dogg in 1970 and quickly released “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” perhaps the fieriest, funkiest album the world still has never heard.

“I had predetermined that Swamp Dogg could do anything he wanted to do,” says Williams.

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Posted by at June 28, 2011 5:12 AM

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