Andrew Greg Williams was born in Savannah in the fall of 1968. At an early age he found himself drawn to the songs and public personas of classic country and western stars like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell. “Early TV guitar people,” recounted Greg Williams.
While he played trumpet for a bit as a youngster in school, “All my idols played the guitar,” Williams explained. “Guitars were magical, portable. You could write a song on the spot with your guitar…” In the mid-1980s, he learned the basics of his instrument from the titular owner of the city’s now-defunct Schroeder's Music Store and before long, as a member of rock band Blue Horizon, played his first paying gig at an Armstrong University frat house party.
Eventually, he recorded his first collection of original material at a professional studio near Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1990 self-released it on cassette tape. That acoustic-oriented album posited Williams as a sensitive and lyrically reflective artist with solid guitar chops and a tender-yet-powerful voice. In the wake of that release, he became ensconced in the burgeoning neo-folk scene surrounding famed Atlanta listening rooms like Trackside Tavern and Eddie’s Attic. He found himself playing alongside, or sharing bills with, the likes of Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, John Mayer, Lyle Lovett and future members of Sugarland. Before long, he’d befriended members of Savannah’s nascent alternative rock community, some of whom offered to form an electric backing band for the singer-songwriter and ultimately served as core session musicians on his next couple of rock and pop-oriented indie albums.
He signed an ongoing, international publishing contract with a branch of the massive BMG firm, being represented for many years by Los Angeles-based super agent Don Buchwald (who also personally manages Howard Stern). He played successful, repeat shows at songwriting meccas like Canter’s Kibitz Room in L.A. and the Bluebird Café in Nashville, releasing a few more critically-acclaimed independent CDs and touring the USA and Canada as a solo acoustic opening act for multi-platinum hard rockers Great White.
Greg regularly performs solo gigs at area venues like the Bayou Café and the Shrimp Factory and co-parents his 12-year-old daughter Rowan. He hopes to soon complete and release a CD of new material and publish his first book.
First record you bought with your own money? “‘Tommy’ by The Who. I paid a friend to copy it — to eight-track!”
First concert you bought a ticket with your own money? “Def Leppard in Savannah, 1983. I think Krokus opened.”
Best concert you’ve seen in person? Bob Dylan in Augusta, 1995.
When was the last time you had short hair? “Probably when I was 11 yearsnold.”
James Brown or James Taylor? “James Brown.”
Leather jackets: Fringe or no fringe? “Yes.”
Three LPs everyone should hear at least once? “‘Blood on the Tracks’ by Bob Dylan, ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC and ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison.”
Most pivotal moment in your life? “My daughter’s birth.”
Biggest regret of your professional career? “There's a few. One time when I was in high school, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top asked to see our band rehearse, as they needed an opener for some dates. I didn't think we were good enough, so I turned him down.”
Your single best attribute as a performer? “I'm proudest of my writing.”
One talent you wish you had? “I suppose it would be nice to be a better dancer.”
One band you wish you could have been a member of? “The Hawks (Ronnie Hawkins’ backing group which eventually became known as The Band).”
Favorite instrument you’ve owned? “A Fender ’58 Reissue Telecaster I bought from (local producer and recording engineer) Phil Hadaway in the mid-1990s while recording my ‘Relativity’ CD.”
Complete this sentence: “I’d rather die than…” “...have one more conversation about politics.”
Better magazine in the 1980s: Playboy or Rolling Stone? “‘Rolling Stone.’”
Which of your CDs should folks unfamiliar with your music listen to first? “‘Asia Maya Zen.’”
Last time you were starstruck around a performer or artist? “Decades ago in Atlanta. It was soul music great William Bell, because he was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix. He was hitting on my girlfriend.”
Five words that describe your mother? “Stubborn. Generous. Sweet. Beautiful. Crafty.”
Craziest thing you saw when touring the USA as opening act for multi-platinum platinum hard rock act Great White (that’s suitable to print in the newspaper)? “You've tied my hands with that 'suitable for print' clause… There were plenty of generous female metal fans out there though… One young lady was into the whole band. All of them. And the crew. At once.”
Editor's note: The question and answer above appear in print as they were submitted.
If you could either be much younger or much happier, which would you choose? “Happy.”