When two of the best fanzines in the world, Roctober and Ugly Things, and two of the best record labels in the world, Norton and In the Red all start going apeshit over a certain individual by the name of Andre Williams, perhaps it's time to take notice. Well anyways, this is exactly what I did. On the outset it's simple: Williams is known to many Cramps fans as the author of Bacon Fat, a toon Lux and Ivy have "championed" for eons. By the way, you've probably heard at least one of Andre's compositions before- a little ditty called "Shake a Tail Feather" (featured on yer sweaty gym partner's favourite movie soundtrack the Blues Brothers!) No doubt about it, Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams has pumped out an impressively "tasty" body of work , most notably manifested in the form of material such as "Greasy Chicken," "Please Pass the Biscuits," and "Rib Tips". Where there's grits, there's gotta be sex close by, or so says the legend, which is only confirmed by Williams penned screamers like "Jailbait", "Let Me Put it In" or "Pussy Stank." However, unlike a lot of olde skool rock'n'rollers (he's been in groups since 1954 for christsakes!), Andre Williams has emerged from a period of inactivity (read: a tough bunch of years literally begging on the streets of Chicago) with a couple of hot new albums and a long list of cool collaborators, namely Mick Collins and Dan Kroha of Gories/Dollrods/Blacktop fame, Jon Spencer, plus Pretty Things(!) axe-welder Dick Taylor, and LA noisemeisters The Countdowns. Contacted by phone on the eve of his first ever West Coast tour, at the Safari Inn in Burbank, California, here's what "Mr. Rhythm" Andre Williams had to say...

Nardwuar: Who are you?
Andre Williams: Well. I'm a guy who's very grateful-

Well, first off, you are Andre Williams.
First. And foremost. Zethire Andre Williams.Z-E-T-H-I-R-E, born in Beshmae, Alabama. Moved to Chicago in 1941. Went to Chicago. Went to the Navy. And then moved to Detroit. And that's where it started happening.

So, Andre Williams, have you had any raw eggs recently?
Uh, I do raw eggs every morning. So, you know, I'm about a raw egg. I'm about the raw. And then just cook me up, you know, I'm about the raw and the way things shape is how good the omelette will be. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Andre Williams - Silky

Are you a good cook, Andre?
Well, I cooked in the Navy. I was a chef in the Navy so I do know about food. And by getting to be sixty-one, I'm kind of learning about people, so I am just thankful that very few black men of sixty-one years old get a second clock.

You like it real greasy, don't you?
Well, they call it greasy but, let's face it, the only thing- if you're going to cook anything to eat, to live, you've got to use grease in the skillet. Otherwise, it sticks there!


Andre, who was a good cook? Was Solomon Burke a good cook? Did you ever eat any Solomon Burke food?
No, I think Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin were the best two cooks that I've ever known.

What particularly did you enjoy about their cooking? What was it that made it special?
Well, the fried tomatoes, uh, the gravies, uh, the choice of pork chops! I could go on and on. The collard greens. Okra and onion. I mean, that real friendly food. Not the tattalon diet.

On this particular tour, Andre, you have three costume changes, don't you? So you don't get greasy at all. Like, there is no chance of you getting the grease from your dinner on your clothes because you've got all these costume changes happening!
Well, you know, I believe in colour, man. All my life, my father told me a long time ago, "Andre, if you don't have any money, wear a tie. So if you need help, people will start lending you help from the point of where you look. So I always believed that appearance is the most important thing in telling a true story. Now, I don't put down none of the other guys who wear whatever they want to wear on the stage, and do whatever they do, but I'm just a firm believer that you should make a fashion statement. You should make a political statement. And then you should make a personal statement. Whenever you get the opportunity to entertain the people, you should do all three of those.

Are you into hats? Are you very big into hats, like haberdashy-
Well, I like hats for the simple reason: hats bring out the shoes. If they're looking you from head to toe, then both of those areas have got to be... detailed, okay?

Are you a big fan of haberdashy?
Well, you know, I've got my own personal tailors since I've gotten into the new Jewish life, and I've got my own personal tailors, some of the girls at the temple sew my clothes, so I will go to a haberdashery and see something that I really want. Now, if I need it that day, I'll buy it. But if I can hold off, then I can picture it in my mind and I will call the girls at the temple and they will make it for me. But haberdasheries, boutiques, even thrift stores - I found a blue serge suit at a thrift store in Detroit that right now will have to be worth $2000. Hand embroidered, serge - when you walk out in the sun, it gives off a colour that just can't be imagined anymore, so, you know, I get dust in my nose too. I go to thrift stores and I look for stuff that's great because everything old now has to become new. And I'm a witness to that.

Andre Williams, you are a survivor. Unfortunately, I guess a lot of rock 'n' rollers in the Detroit and Chicago area, you know, from the '60s and late '50s, had a lot of untimely deaths. Like Sam Cooke, his death was really bizarre, wasn't it? Like, he picks up a woman, takes her to a hotel, attacks the woman, then attacks the hotel manager, then the hotel manager attacks him with a pool cue! What a bizarre death for Sam Cooke!
Well, I think that was one of the blessings from God, that he didn't give me that much juice and power and fame at an age that I did not know what to do with it. I think a lot of times back then, - and I hate to say "back then" - these kids were getting breaks that were unbelievable. They were getting basketball and football type perks, and if you're not prepared - see, you have to be prepared for anything that's good, uh, if you're not prepared, then you will take that and you will use it in the wrong direction. We've got to face this fact: sex and money creates power and those three things rule the world, and if you're not prepared to put those three things in their proper perspective, then one of those things will take you out, as well as it will take you where you want to go. All three of those things are very dangerous weapons.


You're very lucky, Andre Williams, like Otis Redding getting pulled from a plane wreck, or Marvin Gaye getting shot by his father, but Andre Williams is still here! How do you think, if you have to go, Andre, you'd like to go?
Well, if I - you've got to, get ready for this one! When I go - because there's no question of "if" - I think I'd like for it to happen during the intermission of a great show. I think I'd like for it to happen during the intermission of a sell-out auditorium and whether it be by bullet or by cold or by just failure of the pumper, I think I'd like it to be right in between a great show and a great one coming up. Makes sense?

So you would not like to die onstage. You would let the people have their fun and then die in the intermission in between.
Yeah. You know, I don't want to pump out before I get the message out, you know. Let me get back to the dressing room, and then whatever happens, let it happen there. Or let it happen peacefully in my sleep. I wouldn't like to go violently but I will go protecting what I believe is right, which is my kids, my music, and my dream.

Andre Williams, didn't Barry Gordy use Marvin Gaye's wife, Anna Gordy, to spy on Marvin Gaye. Like, didn't Barry Gordy use his sister to help spy on-
Barry Gordy picked everybody's wives. Not only Marvin Gaye. This is why 80% of all of Motown stars ended up in the disaster ending. 80% of the Motown people ended up in disaster because they had no strength of walking on their own. They all were sheltered, directed, supervised, and when it came time that they threw them out on their own, they didn't know where to go. It was like getting an animal in the wild, keeping it in the zoo, feeding it, having people come to see it, and then at another point, put it in a truck and then dump it in the ocean.

Did Barry Gordy ever spy on you, Andre Williams?
Well, they couldn't spy on me because he knew what I was. Barry knew that I was a maverick. I was a wild man that had my own dream. I respected him but I didn't like him. I liked Ike Turner but I didn't respect him. So it was two of the both evils. I think Barry Gordy is probably the number three top record music man in the world. Clive Davis, Phil Spector, and Barry Gordy.

Didn't you do some rap porno records in the early '80s?
I did rap records in 1959! My first hit was a rap!

"Bacon Fat."
Right, you know, but I don't take no credit for rapping for the simple reason: I couldn't sing. And I know today I'm not a singer, but I know I'm a great entertainer if I'm given the chance to be that. This held me back a long time because I was not a vocalist. I never claimed to be a vocalist-

How long did you work at Motown, Andre Williams?
In and out, in and out, in and out, maybe over a period of six years.

What did you look like as a producer in Motown?
I was gorgeous! I hate to say it, now I'm just mellowed to just a nice-looking handsome sixty-one year old man, but at the time I was in Motown, I was definitely a threat to Rudolph!

Was Barry Gordy much of a partier? Didn't he have a child with Diana Ross?
He's got a baby. I think her name is... well, I don't want to mispronounce her name, but Diana took her on Oprah and showed a gorgeous little girl. He's got a pretty baby by Diana, and I guess that was going to happen because Diana is a beautiful woman and when she was first doing popcorn, I mean, way before anybody even - when nobody in the studio wanted to record them, you know, I did a song called "My Imagination." They were struggling, but I knew they were going to make it because the charisma was there. I mean, Diana Ross was one of the prettiest young black women that I've ever seen in my life - and I've seen a lot of them!

Andre Williams, did you ever get "agile, mobile and hostile" with Diana Ross?
I'm always agile, mobile and hostile! Every day of my life.


How is men's cologne important, Andre Williams?
It is very important. You should walk out smelling like the dreams. You must not smell like yesterday's faults. Cologne is very important. Cologne is part of the secret. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and once you put on a flavour, then you become a character, and people appreciate that.

How does it affect the ladies? How does cologne affect the ladies?
Oh, (laughs) well, I don't know how it affects them but I can say that they appreciate it when they walk up and say, "Nice show, Andre," and hug me, they don't get unpleasantly surprised.

Speaking of Barry Gordy, what about the other Berry, Chuck Berry? He loves the women, doesn't he, good old Chuck Berry?
Chuck Berry was... Chuck Berry and Andre Williams are probably two of the same people except that he was much more luckier than me.

Now you never videotaped women using the toilet, did you?
Well, in my mind!

In your mind you did!

But you never videotaped women pissing on you at all, did you?
In my mind!

Well, that's good. You kept it to your mind.
Yeah, I have that freedom, because that's the privacy that comes with being an American citizen. I've got the right to think whatever I want to but no, I would never get a camera and do that, because they have privacies too.