Sollie Paul Williams (August 23, 1917 - October 11, 1985), known professionally as Tex Williams, was an American Western swing musician from Ramsey, Illinois. He is best known for his talking blues style; his biggest hit was the novelty song, "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)", which held the number one position on the Billboard charts for six weeks in 1947. "Smoke" was the No. 5 song on Billboard's Top 100 list for 1947, and was No. 1 on the country chart that year. It can be heard during the opening credits of the 2006 movie Thank You for Smoking.
Life and career:
Williams started out in the early 1940s as vocalist for the band of Western Swing king Spade Cooley, based in Venice, California.
Williams' backing band The Western Caravan numbered about a dozen members. They attained an enviable level of fluid interplay between electric and steel guitars, fiddles, bass, accordion, trumpet, and other instruments (even an occasional harp). At first they recorded polkas for Capitol Records with limited success. That was changed by the success of "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke" written in large part by Merle Travis.
In April 1956 Williams appeared on the Chrysler-sponsored CBS TV broadcast "Shower of Stars".
His final radio show was a lengthy conversation taped by Bill Aken's radio program The Country Call Line while Williams was in the Newhall, California hospital. His wife Dallas had asked Aken to call Williams in the hospital and try to cheer him up. He died two days later. Aken ran the entire hour and a half tape without commercial interruption, as a tribute to his long-time friend and former employer.
Williams died of pancreatic cancer on October 11, 1985.
Williams and the Western Caravan appeared in the following films:
Tex Williams and His Western Caravan (1947),
Tex Williams & Orchestra in Western Whoopee (1948),
Tex Williams' Western Varieties (1951)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license