TRIBUTE: Colin Towns remembers Roger Williams (1954-2017)

Roger Williams

ROGER WILLIAMS played bass trombone, tuba and euphonium. Educated at Haileybury School – where Eddie Harvey was an important and formative influence – and the Royal Academy of Music, Roger was a regular – and popular – member of West End theatre bands, notably the original run of Jesus Christ Superstar and the entire run of Starlight Express. He was also a member of Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra. In this tribute Colin Towns remembers Roger Williams:

In today’s world where famous names or main soloists often are the pull for concert goers and music listeners alike, the unsung heroes are sidemen who are the backbone and foundation of many bands.

Roger Williams who has died after a long illness was simply a rock for me. Faced with a challenge, some of them rather ludicrous I must say, he was always there and right on it. A perfect partner in crime. Many times we would discuss my ideas for his part in the Mask Orchestra and no matter how big the challenge he always wanted to find a way to make it work. He was a dedicated master musician of all types of music but confessed that he should have played more Ska. Roger added his magic to classical orchestras, brass groups, West End shows (the day job of many great jazz musicians) as well as bands like Brass Monkey, the Stan Tracey Big Band and Home Service (formed from musicians working at the National Theatre).

With a strong love of contemporary classical music and all kinds of very diverse music styles, I had many conversations with him where he would mention composers I’d never heard of. I always felt that with his photographic memory he focused on the important things in life. He would say there are two types of music only: good or bad music. Roger simply loved life – walking, photography, travelling and of course his beautiful family. An almost normal human being, but anybody who knew him would say: “he’s a truly extraordinary man, a great friend, brilliant musician and by the by a brilliant chef too”.

Roger’s funeral was held at St Paul’s Church, Chiswick, on Monday 6th February. An occasion he purposely turned into his final gig.

LINK: The eulogy at the funeral was given by Chris Stearn, who wrote in Trombone Forum HERE

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