Almanac Music: Andre Williams – The Dirtiest Old Man in the World


Andre Williams was a 60-something year old junkie, pushing his belonging around LA in a shopping trolley when some members of The Dirtbombs recognised him.


The most influential, sleazy, cult R&B legend of the 50s, singer or such brilliantly oily tracks as Bacon Fat, Jailbait, Greasy Chicken, writer of Shake Your Tail Feather, song-maker for Funkadelic, Parliament – now a burnt out husk, saved by the single best, painfully Detroit, 90s garage band.


The Dirtbombs dusted Andre off, put him in a good 40s mobster suit, and gave this royalty of lowballs and the unknowns a modern backing, relaunching him with Silky – an album full of their raw, pounding rust and his rusty smooth vocals.


Songs like Pussie Stank But So Do Marijuana, Looking Down at You Looking Up at Me, The Only Black Man in South Dakota, and Let Me Put It In (Let me put in a big for your love, baby!) drove a tour of the globe, as the Godfather of Soul, or, as he put it, The Dirtiest Old Man in the World.


Andre was a God to me. The Williams from the 50s. The way he slipped and slid with that perfect voice, sung into little more than tin cans, recorded in the back of barbershops. Do-wop, R&B, soul, country. He was all of them; Mr Rhythm, brought back to life. Throwing himself at life, one more time!


The Black Godfather was booked into a cute little upstairs venue in an inner-city yuppie suburb. A million miles from my work in the mud and falling fronds of the mountains. I washed in a river, and drove a ute with three working cylinders to the city, beside myself.


Andre was everything I had dreamed. He looked old and oh, so smooth, powering out songs and snake oil banter, backed by local grunge musos he wouldn’t have known the names of.


“I’m a bad, bad motherfucker!” he rattled. “Yeah, man, this city, this city would have to be the dirtiest city in the world!”


Someone tried to dance, but the hipsters, lounging at tables in their leopard skin hats, their fifty shades of designer black, flung bar coasters at him until he moved to the back. Such a fucking Melbourne story! Andre was up there, wailing, preaching – that’s what he was, a preacher! Begging people to get drunk, fall over dancing, then fuck under the cigarette machine using all the wrong holes, before losing their way home. Asking them to be come with him, be human, be saved.


Ignoring them, he sung the 60s classic, Mr Cadillac, then the 90s Car With the Star, his exquisite voice now mixed with the sweet gravel of age, while continuing to give his snake oil charm between songs. Andre used all his body, all his muscle and air, all his sleaze!


He put! On! A! Show!


The old fuck.


“Aw, I swear!” he hollered, insisting again; “Melbawn would have to be the goddamn horniest city in the-“


Then paused.


“…Mel…bawn…?” he rolled the word around like a typical American. “Mel… BAWN. That’s not right, is it? How do you say it?” he asked.


Then, in that pause, that loud, dead-still moment, between wailing grunge and slinky smooth R&B, in that quiet second, where he dropped his act, knowing he was a boozer, I said; “Andre… say ‘bourbon.’”


Never, ever obvious, he paused, finger in air, tried it on in his head, pointed at me with a wry smile and said; “Y’know, you’re alright, kid,” then, on that beat,  BELTED into; “LET ME PUT IT IN! Let me put in a bid for your love, baby!” wailing, arms and legs wide, at the ceiling, the heavens, the powers that be!


My hero.


You can read more from Matt Zurbo Here.


We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE


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  1. Malby Dangles says

    Andre Williams was great. Let me put it in is a filthy classic. Great piece, Matt!

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