Mike Kelley Remembers Ernie Williams

Ernie Williams (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Ernie Williams (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

By Mike Kelley

The last time I played with Ernie was his 87th birthday show at The Linda. There was nothing about him that would suggest that he was turning 87. He came bounding onto the stage and gave that audience everything he had, just like he did every time he performed. From my vantage point I got to see row after row of adoring faces staring up at him. He emitted this great joy that had the whole crowd dancing and grinning from ear to ear.

I’ve had the privilege to play with Ernie for the last 17 years and performed all over with a lot of excellent musicians. I am grateful for the friends I made. But mostly I am glad that I got to know Ernie Williams. And even though I only played with the band sporadically over the last couple years, when I did, Ernie would always greet me with his giant hand shake saying, “I really missed you, kid.”

Well, I will really miss him.

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3 Responses to “Mike Kelley Remembers Ernie Williams”

  1. Al Kash says:

    What a week,, Art Snay and now Ernie. Very sad week for Albany. Always a pleasure playing with him. Thoughts & prayers to Kathy & family. Will miss you Ernie,,

  2. Stan Johnson says:

    The first time I saw Ernie was in the Ramada Inn in Schenectady during the early eighties. The last time was a couple months ago in Stewarts near Ellis Hospital, where I told him I really enjoyed his opening set for Chubby Checker at Alive At 5. In between were a lot of fun times, but just as often I said, “Well, we can always catch Ernie, he’s everywhere.” Now it seems he is everywhere, but like Chuck Berry said, “You Can’t Catch Me.” Thanks again, Ernie.

  3. Brian Kelley says:

    I was lucky to have had the opportunity to see Ernie play many times, as my father was a longtime bandmate of Ernie’s. I even had the opportunity to play percussion on stage at The Egg with the band, still ranking as one of the most nerveracking yet memorable musical experiences I’ve had, and certainly not one I will soon forget. Thank you for this. And so, referring to one of my favorite songs Ernie wrote, “Searching for Salvation”…..you can stop the search, sir….Im SURE you have found it!

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