New Orleans jazz pioneer was noted jazz pianist, composer, promoter, vocalist, theatrical producer, and music publisher.

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Clarence Williams


Wrote "Jail House Blues"

Known as one of the pioneers of New Orleans jazz, composer Clarence Williams was born in Plaquemin, Louisiana on October 6, 1893.

His professional career started at the age of 12 as an entertainer with minstrel shows and eventually he was substituting for Jelly Roll Morton as orchestra conductor for vaudeville acts.

By 1923, Williams was organizing radio and recording units including his own trio in New York. He eventually established a music publishing company as well. It was while working for radio that Williams began composing and contributing his own songs to vaudeville. He met and married famed vaudville performer, Eva Taylor and started a long professional relationship with singer Bessie Smith.

Inspired by "The Father of the Blues", W.C. Handy, Williams wrote alone and with some of the most prolific lyricists of his day. His collaborators include Spencer Williams, Andy Razaf and Louis Armstrong. He was also a major influence on singer and songwriter Thomas "Fats" Waller.

The Clarence Williams catalog includes both popular songs and instrumental works such as “Royal Garden Blues”, “Shout, Sister, Shout”, “Swing, Brother, Swing”, “Sugar Blues”, “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home?”, “Gulf Coast Blues”, “West End Blues”, “Squeeze Me”, “Ugly Chile”, “In the Bottle Blues”, “Organ Grinder”, “High Society”, “Terrible Blues” and “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None o’ This Jelly Roll”.

Clarence Williams died in Queens, New York on November 6, 1965.

Produced earliest recordings of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet in 1924