Andy Williams Captivates Audience in Coliseum
By Charlie Hanna
July 1, 1968
There was just no way for Andy Williams and the Andy Williams Show to lose Sunday night.
And the audience of 8,500 in Memorial Coliseum knew it.
Williams and his crew had craftily stacked the deck. Jazz pianist Peter Nero and his trio opened the show and grooved for 45 minutes.
Singer Williams came on after intermission, and stayed on from 8:50 p.m. until the 10:30 close-down, making it a three-hour show.
Williams fed the folks standard popular numbers such as Who Can I Turn To, Born Free, Dear Heart, and Days of Wine and Roses for openers.
But stationed in the front ranks of the 30-piece tuxedo and tie traveling orchestra was a mustached, long-haired 12-string guitarist in a blue Nehru jacket. That apparently was Andy’s way of letting the folks know he was ready to jump any way the wind is blowing.
To lock in Mom and Dad for sure, the snappy young Osmond Brothers, song and dance fivesome, ranging in age from 7 to 18, worked with Andy a full half hour. They are sharp, hard working kids who perform like they were drilled within an inch of their lives, and enjoy it.
Williams had the youngsters show off some fantastically well executed choreography and modern harmony. Decked out in all white, including Nehru jackets, and longish haircuts, the Osmonds showed their facility as a rock group, with the three eldest hooking on electric guitars, the next to the youngest (Jay) handling the drums and Donny, 7, taking electric piano.
Donny became confused with which instrument to plug into which socket at one point, but his perpetual smile remained electric and nobody missed a beat.
Then they brought on Jimmy Osmond, about 4. Andy straight-manned for him and the tyke belted I Dig Rock And Roll Music and I Gotta Woman like a real trouper.
Bringing on the little one is such an old gimmick that you feel sort of foolish falling for it. But it worked beautifully and deserved all the applause it got.
Williams said he was sorry his wife, Claudine, couldn’t make it, and that standing in the mammoth Coliseum made him “feel like I’m inside Jackie Gleason’s stomach.”
Williams wore a sky blue pullover sweater over a white shirt, white pants with a red and white stripe down the sides, and white “gaiter” shoes.
Nero fit in neatly with the sophisticated family show Williams built.
Backing Nero was Joe Cusatis on drums and Gene Chareeko on the first live stand-up electric string bass this writer has seen in action.
The appearance of this offspring of the old wooden mellow bass was rather hypnotizing. It looked rather like a white enamel bedpan skewered on a long stick.
Chareeko’s technique, including a rash of flutter plucking that is bedazzling, was fascinating. But the sound of the electric instrument is overbearing and imprecise.