Story and photograph by David Malachowski
Ernie Williams was my friend.
We came from drastically different worlds, but that was not important, and though we talked a lot, we spoke more by playing music together over the last decade or so.
His love of music, playing and people was infectious, and I learned a lot by being around him. More than just a singer, Ernie was an entertainer, and people loved him wherever we went. I was always extremely flattered that Ernie - who had his pick of regional guitarists - always made me his first call guitarist, and I played with him anytime and any place, whenever I was available. And we had some fine adventures.
Save for longtime drummer Rocky Petrocelli and saxophonist Charlie Vatalaro, band members came and went, but it didn¹t really matter, because it was all about Ernie. In more recent years, we had been doing acoustic trio shows with Ernie on bass and Charlie Vatalaro on saxes, and I enjoyed those the most.
Though Ernie was much older, he still had more energy than all of us put together, and somehow you never even thought that it could be possible that he would ever be gone.
We played last Sunday in Northville, and it was just a joy. As I left, I said, “That was fun, see you in May.” He said, “Yes, you will. Thanks, Dave!”
I’ll really miss him.
Ernie Williams obituary and 87th birthday concert video
Mike Kelley Remembers Ernie Williams
Flashback Foto: The Ernie Williams Band @ Joe Bruno Stadium, 8/23/11
Mark Emanatian Remembers Ernie Williams
Don Wilcock Remembers Ernie Williams