Roger Williams, a virtuoso pianist who topped the Billboard pop chart in the 1950s and played for nine U.S. presidents during a long career, passed away Saturday.
He was 87. The electrifying stage performer and an adept improviser died at home in Los Angeles of complications from pancreatic cancer, according to reports.
Williams' 1955 hit "Autumn Leaves" is the only piano instrumental to reach No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts and remains the best-selling piano record of all time.
Nicknamed the "pianist to the presidents," Williams played for every commander in chief from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. He was a close friend to several.
Williams was close friends with Jimmy Carter, with whom he shared a birthday. When the two men turned 80, Mr. Williams played at the Jimmy Carter Library.
As a teenager, Williams had already scored his own 15-minute radio show on KRNT, broadcast live from a Des Moines, Iowa (his hometown), department store.