R&B singer/producer Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams, died in Chicago on Sunday (March 17) at age 82, according to a statement from his label, Pravda Records. "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary artist Andre Williams," read a FB statement from the Chicago-based label. "He died this after in Chicago at the age of 82. He touched our lives and the lives of countless others. We love you Dre."
William's manager, Kenn Goodman, tells Billboard that the singer died on Sunday afternoon while in hospice care in Chicago surrounded by family. "He was diagnosed two weeks ago with colon cancer that spread to his lungs and brain," Goodman says. "After that his body started shutting down pretty quickly," he adds, noting that Williams had battled a number of other health issues recently, including strokes and seizures. "But was committed to trying to sing and record again."
Born in Bessemer, Alabama, on Nov. 1, 1936, Zephire "Andre" Williams launched his career as a teenager after moving to Detroit in the early 1950s, where he quickly became a key member of the city's then blossoming R&B scene, making his name after winning the top prize at the Warfield Theatre's amateur night show eight weeks in a row. Known for his fiery, often profane style, Williams signed to Fortune Records and took over the lead vocal slot in the vocal group The Five Dollars.