Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 15 News List

US ‘pianist to presidents’ Roger Williams dies

Screenshots taken at the Official Roger Williams Web site ( on Tuesday.

Photos: Taipei Times

American pianist Roger Williams, who had a huge hit with the tune “Autumn Leaves” in the 1950s and played for a succession of US presidents, died aged 87 last Saturday, his family said.

His 1958 version of “Autumn Leaves” was the only instrumental ever to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts. He also had a hit with “Born Free,” the soundtrack of the movie of that name.

Born Louis Wertz in Omaha, Nebraska, he started playing piano at the age of three, studied jazz at the famous Juilliard School of Music in New York, and served in the US Navy during World War II.

His big break came with his second album, which contained his version of “Autumn Leaves” and sold two million copies. It remains the best selling piano record of all time.

He had met a sports announcer named Ronald Reagan when playing a show in Des Moines, Iowa, and the two developed a friendship which lasted six decades, including when his friend made it to the White House.

The late US president’s widow Nancy was among the first to pay tribute to Williams, who died at his home in Encino, California of complications from pancreatic cancer.

“Roger Williams was called the ‘pianist to the presidents’ for having performed for nine administrations, and Ronnie and I were especially pleased to welcome him to the White House,” she said.

“Roger was a great pianist, a great American, and a great friend. I am saddened by his death, and my sympathy and prayers go out to his family,” she added.






1. pay tribute

v. phr.

悼念 (dao4 nian4)

例: Many people are paying tribute to Steve Jobs since he died.


2. administration


執政 (zhi2 zheng4)

例: How many administrations did you serve under while you were in the Senate?


3. sympathy


慰問 (wei4 wen4)

例: We sent our sympathies to her family on the death of her father.








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