Jazz violinist-guitarist Claude "Fiddler" Williams died of pneumonia Sunday (April 25) in Kansas City, Mo. He was 96.

Jazz violinist-guitarist Claude "Fiddler" Williams died of pneumonia Sunday (April 25) in Kansas City, Mo. He was 96.

Influenced by the pioneering jazz violin playing of Joe Venuti, Williams got his start in Terrence Holder's Kansas City-based band in 1928. He stayed on with the unit, which became known as the Clouds of Joy, after Andy Kirk took over its leadership. In the early '30s, he played with Nat King Cole and his brother Eddie. In 1936, he joined Count Basie's big band.

After a long stint with various Kansas City groups and with Roy Milton's L.A.-based R&B band the Solid Senders, Williams' career was rekindled in 1972 by an album with pianist Jay McShann. In 1988, Williams appeared on Broadway in "Black and Blue." He recorded his last album at the age of 92.