Clarence Williams (October 8, 1893, or October 6, 1898 - November 6, 1965) was an African-American jazz pianist, composer, promoter, vocalist, theatrical producer, and publisher. Williams started a music publishing business with in 1915, which by the 1920s was the leading African-American owned music publisher in the country. He toured briefly with W. C. Handy, set up a publishing office in Chicago, then settled in New York in the early 1920s. In 1921, he married blues singer and stage actress Eva Taylor, with whom he would frequently perform. Clarence wrote songs such as "That Da-Da Strain" which included "Da-Da-Da-Da", and "Papa De-Da-Da". Among his own compositions was "Shout, Sister, Shout", which was recorded by him, and also covered by the Boswell Sisters, in 1931. Williams' name appears as composer or co-composer on numerous tunes, including a number which by Williams' own admission were written by others but which Williams bought all rights to outright, as was a common practice in the music publishing business at the time.
- Clarence Williams: "Lack of further musical ideas, caused me to invent 'hot licks' in 1921, long before Miss Kane thought up her Boops."
$250,000 Infringement Lawsuit
Clarence Williams testified against Helen Kane in the $250,000 Infringement Lawsuit suit, that in 1915 he had created "hot licks", and that it went mostly "What-Da-De-Da" with an occasional Boop thrown in by accident. Williams stated that he had invented the "hot licks" when he ran out of words and music.
- Clarence Williams died in Queens, New York City, in 1965.
- His wife Eva Taylor also starred in Shuffle Along, the musical in which the "Boop-Boop-a-Doop" baby scat singing originated.
- His daughter Joy Williams was a singer-actress under stage name Irene Williams.
- Clarence Williams is the grandfather of actor Clarence Williams III.
- In 1943, Williams sold his extensive back-catalogue of tunes to Decca Records for $50,000 and retired, but then bought a bargain used-goods store.