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JAZZ SINGER DIES, LEAVES CONCERT GAP\ LEGENDARY JAZZ AND BLUES PERFORMER JOE WILLIAMS DIES JUST DAYS AFTER CANCELING A GREENSBORO APPEARANCE.
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JAZZ SINGER DIES, LEAVES CONCERT GAP\ LEGENDARY JAZZ AND BLUES PERFORMER JOE WILLIAMS DIES JUST DAYS AFTER CANCELING A GREENSBORO APPEARANCE.

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Legendary jazz performer Joe Williams, who was booked for a Greensboro performance in June, died Monday in Las Vegas.

The 80-year-old singer had originally been scheduled for a March 27 performance with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, said Edward Cordick, executive director of the symphony. The concert was postponed last week after Williams became ill, he said.Williams collapsed and died on a Las Vegas city street after walking away from a hospital. His wife, Jillean, said he had been admitted to Sunrise Hospital a week ago for a respiratory ailment. The hospital reported Williams missing several hours before his body was found.

Williams apparently died of natural causes, Clark County Coroner Ron Flud said. He had walked several miles Monday and was a few blocks from home.

``At the age of 80, Joe could sing better than most people at the age of 20,' said singer Robert Goulet. ``He was one of the greatest jazz and blues singers of all time, and he was such a good man, too.'

Williams' appeal stretched to other mediums: He played Bill Cosby's father-in-law, Grandpa Al, on ``The Cosby Show' in the 1980s. He and Cosby were friends, and the childhood memories Grandpa Al spun on the show were his own from Chicago.

But his fame was in jazz. Williams became a sensation in 1955 when he recorded ``Everyday I Have the Blues' with Count Basie. Williams repeatedly was chosen the top male jazz singer in readers' polls for Downbeat and other magazines.

``As a talent, he was one of the best blues singers in the world and also one of the best ballad singers,' added friend and singer Buddy Greco. ``There will never be anyone like him again.'

Symphony officials haven't decided what to do about the June 17 concert date, Cordick said. They may try to find another artist to perform, but if no one is available, they will cancel the concert.

``We're in the process of determining whether or not we're going to reschedule a substitute concert,' Cordick said.

The symphony will issue refunds to ticket holders whether or not the concert is rescheduled, he said.

About 1,700 tickets out of the 2,400 tickets available had been sold to the Saturday night event at War Memorial Auditorium, Cordick said.

The symphony box office stopped selling tickets to the concert last Wednesday after the concert was postponed, he said.

If they hadn't stopped sales, it's likely they would have sold all available seats for the popular performer's concert, Cordick said.

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