Bruce Williams, was born April 6th, 1952 in Concord California to Paul and Aileen Williams. Father Paul, who passed in 2010 was an English teacher, newspaper reporter and editor, and a writer for the US Labor Department. He fought in WWII (12 Armored Division/ReCon). Mother Aileen, retired and living in Waukegan, Illinois was a musician, piano teacher, choir director, pipe organist, painter, and raised 7 children, 4 girls and three boys. Her main instrument was string bass and spent many years with The Jan Jose Symphony and The Evanston Symphony. She had to retire from music several years ago due to hearing loss.

Bruce started out playing ukulele, inspired by his Uncle Ed Williams, and got his first guitar when he was 14.  There were always little jam sessions erupting out of the household, as this was a very musical home. Bruce's older brother Dave was a musical inspiration when Bruce was in his early teens. Dave played bass and was in bands that played out in high school days. Dave also introduced Bruce to the music of Wilson Picket, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry and others, and even took his under-aged brother to performances by Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and a lot of folk artists. Around this time, Bruce was starting to jam with his friend Marty McGuire on drums and some other young Los Gatos players.

In 1967, Bruce was walking past the University Avenue Theater in Los Gatos and heard musical sounds with which he was unfamiliar. He peeked in the door and saw a jazz trio on the stage. There was no one watching the door, so he snuck upstairs to the balcony. All the attendees were on the first floor, mesmerized by the music. Bruce sat there and listened for the next two hours in awe. Looking back at this experience later in life, he knew this was an inspirational moment in his musical education. The band on stage was The Vince Guaraldi Trio.

The Williams family moved to northern Illinois in '68, and Bruce managed to get to high school somehow, commuting at first by bus, then train, then a Honda 90 motorcycle, then a '63 Chevy Impala he bought from Bo Manley for $100., then a 62 VW Beetle with '57 Corvette front bumpers. The Beetle blew an engine about 3 months after he bought it.

Bruce's mom recognized her son's love of music and encouraged him, even though she might have wished he had pursued more formal training. Bruce's mother has always been a big supporter of his music, which is fitting, as he credits her as one of his main influences.

Bruce met a folksinger while out for dinner one night in early '68 and talked the artist into letting Bruce sit in with him. Bruce lived nearby, so ran home to get his guitar. This was a milestone for Bruce, as he suddenly realized he could play with, "the big boys". He jammed that night and several other nights and started finding he loved performing and playing his guitar in front of an audience. The gracious folksinger was Jon Cook.

In '69, Bruce lucked into an introduction with Bobby Simms, formerly of The Rotary Connection. Bobby's girlfriend Delores, worked with Bruce's girlfriend Laurie Kohlberg at Kohlberg Theaters. Rotary Connection had disbanded, and Bobby was playing solo on Rush Street in Chicago.  Bruce ended up playing with him as a duet at clubs all over the north side, and this is where he learned how to be an accompanist. He also learned what it was like to gig! His role was to play lead licks on the 6 string acoustic while Bobby played 12 string, or sometimes Bruce would play rhythm while Bobby played bass. And all the while Bobby sang so soulfully with his big voice.

Bobby also arranged for the recording of Bruce's first real demo. Bobby had heard a few of Bruce's original songs and thought they were good enough to record, so he enlisted his friend, Don Drumm to help. They recorded a demo of 2 of Bruce's songs, with Don on piano, Bobby on bass and Bruce on guitar. Bruce overdubbed vocals and some guitar licks. Don and Bobby rearranged the songs with a kind of 'Nashville' approach, and suddenly the songs sounded like they could have been on the radio! Being somewhat naive, Bruce had no idea at the time just how significant Don was in the music industry, he just feels blessed to have been exposed to this 'studio magic' so early in his musical career. Don went on to have chart success with his songs, and has had an amazing musical career. 

Bruce decided to head to the Southside of Chicago in search of some real blues in '69. He had been playing a lot with the Ferrick brothers, Mark Hannon, and had a band for a short time with Felix Blackmon and Ahmed Drake, and now wanted to immerse himself in blues and soul music. Bruce hung around near the stage with his guitar and eventually, the band would ask him to sit in. There were times he would stay by the stage all night waiting for a nod from whoever was running the show, and sometimes that nod would never come. His determination may have won over some of these blues cats.  Over time he gained the respect of the musicians from the Southside and the Westside. Hooking up with Lefty Dizz was a huge positive, because he knew everybody. He was just coming off several years as a sideman for Junior Wells, and was looking to form a new band. On Bruce's first gig for him, Lefty told him he had a surprise coming later. The club was way down on the far Southside, Bruce was the only white boy in there, there were two completely buck naked ladies on either side of the little stage, dancing on tables. One was only inches from Bruce, making it very difficult concentrate on his guitar playing...Between sets, in walks Jimmy Rodgers, Lefty's special guest. What a treat, as he got to play one of his favorite songs, "Walkin' By Myself" with the man that wrote it. Bruce still does that song in his band today. He played with Junior Wells off and on through this period, and then ended up in Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins band for awhile. They played regularly at Ma Bea's at Sacramento and Madison. Willie Kent was on bass, Andrew "Big Voice" Odem on vocals and a cat named "Little Bo" on tenor sax.

Bruce played with many of the great blues stars back then, including Buddy Guy, Jimmy Reed, Hound Dog Taylor, Moose Walker, Freddy Below, Buddy Scott, and was a regular at Willie Dixon's Sunday jam at The Queen Bee Lounge at 74th and Stony Island Avenue. Bruce always appreciated the rapport he had with these great blues artists. Many of them were mentoring types and were willing to help a young artist. Sam Lawhorn and Bruce spent many hours at the bar at the old Checkerboard, discussing everything from guitar to the Blackstone's...

Bruce played with The Mark Hannon Blues Band during the early to mid 70's, then in 1974 met his future wife Mary. Bruce and Mary had two boys, Robert and Daniel. Bruce focused on his career in the graphic arts, and stopped playing out live, except occasional jaunts downtown to sit in with Hannon, or with Betsy & the Boneshakers. During this period, Bruce got into writing music, and started accumulating recording gear, learning bass, drums and piano more, and started multi-tracking. First by bouncing 2 stereo cassette recorders back and forth to get 4 tracks, and eventually getting an Otari 8 track and a good board. Today Bruce records on a Roland VS-2480DVD 24 track digital recorder.

He did play professionally again in the early 80's in Terry Dickerson's band, Hot Ice. He also played drums briefly in a '50's band. Bobby Wolf and George Healy joined Bruce in his studio later in the decade and produced some unique experimental music. A few years later, when Bruce owned a small ad agency and Tony Taylor was working for him, they formed a band, The Hava Bros. The band had Bobby Wolf on synth guitar, Tony singing and playing keyboard, Steve Jennings on bass, Bruce on guitar, and Eric Duke on drums. The band didn't gig a lot, but when they did, they created an awesome brand of funky music.

The early 90's marked the beginning of Bruce's most prolific period of creativity with his writing. He wrote song after song in many different genres. There were swampy blues, jazz instrumentals, schmaltzy ballads, Latin funk, folkie-rockers, classical movie themes...whatever struck him at the time. As time went on, he became better at the recording process, and the demo's of his originals started sounding richer and more professional. He also was becoming a better songwriter and lyricist, and soon would write, arguably his best stuff.

The turning point has to be the song, "Miracles", written in 2000. The song was written to inspire some close friends of Bruce's (including Mark Hannon, who loved the song), and became a real favorite. This song convinced him that his music could have an effect on people. Prior to this, Bruce was really just writing for himself.

He then got the bug to play out live again and have his own band. The goal was to get some good players and play some blues and soul music, and then start doing his original compositions. He found the right guys and The Bruce Williams Blues Orchestra was born.


In 2006, Bruce produced "Hit The Big Time" , a CD of blues songs from a second band he was playing with, King Robinson and the Housewreckers. In 2010, Bruce released "Blues At Red Barn", a collection of Bruce's original songs. Both albums were recorded in his home studio (with the exception of 3 cuts from Hit The Big Time which were recorded live at a local club).

These days Bruce appears all over the Chicago area with his group, The Bruce Williams Band.

Above: Caught this little guy with my bare hands-Emerald Bay/Lake Tahoe


Bruce with his 1st electric guitar

 Brother Dave in '67

Young & Dumb in '68


With future wife Mary 1974









1967 Los Gatos, CA

Above: Playing Les Paul at the very first Williamsfest-1978



                                                        My Father & I



Above: The 90's

Bruce's Bands
Bruce's Bio


Graphic Arts

Sample Songs

In Memory


Nutty Stuff



Free Guestbook
My Guestbook

 View My Guestbook Sign My Guestbook




Bill Brammel