Opus One Big Band

Spotlight on Gary Williams

Who says Grimsby can’t be glamorous? It may not always have been a Mecca for fans of glittering showbiz, but after 15th December 1970 (put it in your diary, girls!) this sleepy little northern fishing town would never be the same.

 You could say Gary’s mother was responsible for his whole career – which was pretty much sealed for him at the age of four, when she played him his first-ever Frank Sinatra album. One of the classics, “Nice and Easy” has been the inspiration for countless Sinatra fans over the years and for our Ring-A-Ding Kid it was a perfect introduction to what would become a passion.

 The Williams household was to be treated to hours of warblings over the next few years as Gary honed his skills by listening, repeating – and adding a few things himself as he went along.  His late teens and early twenties saw Gary’s first real treading of the boards in amateur productions at first – “Oklahoma,” “West Side Story,” “South Pacific,” “My Fair Lady,” “Guys and Dolls,” Carousel” – you name ‘em, Gary was in em…  From there it was a short step to playing all manner of clubs, hotels and restaurants throughout the country – where his reputation grew as he became better and better known for his cheeky renditions of the classic swing repertoire.

 Gary’s first real break came as a full-length concert with the Radio Big band which was featured on local BBC radio – he went on to become a regular with the band on shows such as “Pebble Mill.” Other favourite work includes various jazz festivals, two open air concerts with David Jacobs and Rosemarie Ford and any number of P&O/Olsen/Celebrity/Royal Carribean cruises.

 Gary has, more recently, moved into touring productions – such as “The Magic of Bacharach,” tours with Les Dennis and Rebecca Storm and as one of the Stutz Bear Catz alongside Maggie Moone and Mark Rattray.

 Gary isn’t just well-known in this country – he has swung cabaret in New York and even done a British Council tour off Amman. These days, Gary can be seen in London at venues such as Pizza On The Park, Alexandra Palace and The Grosvenor House.  He has recorded four solo albums and a fifth with all manner of famous people including Barbara Dickson, Ron Moody, Gary Wilmot and the legendary Annie Ross.  Gary is well known up north for his weekly show on BBC radio Humber and even has his own magazine programme on cable TV.

 The names Gary Williams and Opus One have gone together like strawberries and cream ever since 1999 when they presented “My Kinda Sound” in conjunction with Surefire Entertainment.

 Since then, Gary has travelled with the band from Canterbury to Kings Lynn, from Leeds to Bishops Stortford, from Oldham to Romford, but the highlight  - so far, of course, was having the honour to perform for the Annual Convention of the Sinatra Society in millennium year – and being hailed by these oh-so-fussy delegates as the best convention entertainment ever.

 “It’s not every day I get to work with such a big orchestra,” says Gary “and its always a thrill to be accompanied by one who faithfully recreate the original orchestrations by people such as Billy May, Nelson Riddle and Don Costa.”

 For his part, Ted Higgins returns the respect that Gary has for his band – “He is a total professional – it is always a pleasurable and hassle-free experience,” he says.

 These days, Gary writes his own material and has produced and toured several of his own shows – all with a distinctly swingin’ feel – “Swingin’ On Broadway,” “The Frank Sinatra Story” and “Gershwin and Co” which he toured with David Jacobs.

Gary Williams

The Official Gary Williams Home Page

email: info@opusonebigband.com