Lew Williams


For decades, Lew Williams remained one of country and rockabilly's most intriguing mysteries. His small body of work is well-known: most of his Imperial recordings from 1955-56 have been reissued at regular intervals, covered, even plagiarized. Fans and journalists alike acknowledge that there was something unique about Lew Williams. Sides like "Cat Talk," "Centipede," "Bob Bop Ba Doo Bob," and "Something I Said" have long been considered classics.

Almost nothing was known of him. What became of him after 1957 remained a tantalizing blank....until now. Many of us were doing Cat Music prior to anyone hearing of Elvis," Lew told annotator Kevin Coffey. We didn't want to be country or hillbilly singers. We didn't want country instruments. The fiddle went first, then the steel guitar. To us, country wasn't cool."

Reissues, like Bill Millar's 'Imperial Rockabillies' and the Tom Ingram-compiled 'Cat Talk' brought Lew's music to the attention of a new generation of rockabilly and roots music fans. Sides like "Centipede," "Something I Said," "Cat Talk" and "Bob Ba Doo Bop" are revered and treasured by fans worldwide - and the first rockabilly fanzine in the UK was aptly called 'Cat Talk.' There were covers - and one notorious adaptation: the Stray Cats' "Fishnet Stockings" borrowed heavily from "Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop." Ray Condo and the Ricochets have waxed "Something I Said" twice, the Blacktop Rockets have cut "Centipede." Lew remained oblivious to it all, but he now has Bear Family's reissue in his hand and is aware of his 'cult' status, and his importance as a transitional figure from honky-tonk to Cat Music, and, ultimately, rockabilly and rock 'n' roll.

  • Lew Williams' CD Available from Bear Family

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