Jimmy Williams, who sang with Double Exposure and The Trammps, is sadly no more with us. He died on Monday morning, 6 days after Double Exposure revealed on their Facebook page he was facing an aggressive form of cancer which had spread to his brain. This leavin’ us cryin’ the loss of another Philly sound hero…
Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Jimmy Williams, Charles Whittington, Leonard (Butch) Davis, and Joe Harris started singing together at Junior High School. Believing in their God given talents, they reunited after their military obligations and moved forward to fulfill their dream of becoming recording artists. They worked hard for that, doin’ countless live P.A.’s with mixed experiences. But they kept on.
Evolving under the United Image banner since 1961, they ended up signing a recording deal with Stax Records 10 years after upon the recommendation of some DJ’s. They released a single – ‘Love’s Creeping Up On Me’ which Leon Ware co-wrote – on subsidiary label Volt. Then they started working on an album which Bunny Sigler co-produced. But the latter never saw the light, most likely because of internal problems at the record label.
United image released another single – the Morris Bailey penned and arranged ‘The African Bump’ – on Jesse James‘ Branding Iron Records back in 1972. And that would be pretty much about it until 1975. Then one day, when he was shopping in down town Philadelphia, Joe Harris suddenly heard someone calling his name aloud. This was just Norman Harris of the newly formed Baker-Harris-Young Productions company who offered him to come to his office the day after to audition for a record company. With that record company being none other but Salsoul Records which VP Ken Cayre represented for the occasion.
The audition happened to be a success. The group eventually changed their name into something more modern upon suggestions. Some of the band members had been joking about pics someone had taken saying this looked like a double exposure. With the rest being history…
Jimmy Williams and cohorts released their debut-album – ‘Ten Percent’ – back in 1976. It would be the strongest of the 3 albums they recorded in total. Along with the title track and ‘My Love Is Free’, ‘Everyman’ was another big Dance hit. With the three of them years after receiving outstanding remix works. Respectively by Masters At Work, Frankie Knuckles and Joe Claussell.
Double Exposure at last had got the worldwide recognition. Alas, financial problems with their manager at the time interrupted them in the process of dropping their follow-up. With its release date postponed by the label until the matter was sorted out with the signature of a new deal. ‘Fourplay’, their follow-up followed in 1978, although none of its material had the power of its predecessor. The group eventually dropping their final album – ‘Locker Room’ – the year after. An album which included ‘I Got The Hots (For Ya)’.
Although it didn’t reach the same status, this track, produced by Ron Baker with mixing work courtesy of Bobby DJ Guttardo received quite a heavy support by the likes of WBLS Frankie Crocker. I remember how long I remained before knowing what it was. Having just a little part of it from a tape which had been recorded at the time. Until the moment I found a copy of it, more than 20 years after at my French friend Aldo‘s A1 record store in Manhattan.
By the end of 1979, the guys had started thinking of other ways to make a living. And although they never officially declared the group broken, each of them went his own way. Jimmy Williams replacing Jimmy Ellis as the lead singer of The Trammps.
The latter eventually released a couple of singles as a solo artist. The first – ‘All Of My Lovin” – back in 1983 on Salsoul with production work courtesy of Bert Reid (Crown Heights Affair). The second – ‘Do You Really Want To Wait?’ – 4 years after along with producer David Pic Conley (Surface).
Another track worth the mention is most likely ‘You Are My Everything’. A jam which the late Vincent Montana, Jr. released back in 2006 on his PSW label.
The four guys have remained like brothers along with time. They never missed an opportunity to do a show whenever they could. And on this sad days, our deepest thoughts are coming their way. As to Jimmy Williams‘ family and friends.
My love is… free to you guys, and has always been…
With warm thanks to Gary Van den Bussche at Disco, Soul, Gold, for letting us know.
Tribute: Jimmy Williams