R&B singer and producer Andre Williams, who was best known as Mr. Rhythm, has passed away, Pravda Records confirms . The entertainer reportedly passed away on Sunday (Mar. 17) at the age of 82.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary artist Andre Williams,” the Chicago-based label wrote in a statement on Facebook. “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, told Billboard that the singer lost his battle to colon cancer while staying in hospice care. “He was diagnosed two weeks ago with colon cancer that spread to his lungs and brain,” Goodman said. “After that his body started shutting down pretty quickly. But [he] was committed to trying to sing and record again.”
Born Zephire “Andre” Williams, he moved from Alabama to Detroit as a teen in the early 1950s to launch his music career. He gained local attention after winning the first place prize at the Warfield Theatre’s amateur night show eight weeks in a row.
Williams then signed to Fortune Records and took over as the lead vocalist of the group, The Five Dollars. The group was later renamed Andre Williams and the Don Juans and released the top-10 charting single “Bacon Fat.”
He would later go on to produce and record tracks including “The Stroke,” “Humpin’ Bumpin’ & Thumpin’,” the Five Dutones’ “Shake a Tail Feather” and other Fortune Records singles like “Jail Bait” and “The Greasy Chicken.”
In his later years, Williams continued to make music. He toured through Europe in 2001, 2005, and 2006, as well as produced a handful of indie compilation albums and group records. Williams was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2012.