Although born Ervin L. Williams in Millinocket, Maine, most of his life he went by a nickname – his first, “Wee Willie” (because of his stature), and then just “Willie.” Later on, because he hosted an early morning radio show, he acquired the more lasting nickname of “Early.”
In his teens, Williams became a member of a local band called the Northern Lights that toured his native state and across the nearby border in New Brunswick, Canada. Even with his noticeable New England accent, he formed a trio called The Virginians and got a job as a radio deejay for WCMS in Portsmouth, Virginia. It was there he met Capitol Records’ artist Gene Vincent who hired him as a rhythm guitarist for his band, the Blue Caps. For his pioneering role in the rockabilly genre and work on such Vincent classics as “Be Bop-A-Lula,” “Race with the Devil” and “Woman Love,” he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
After leaving the Blue Caps, Willie spun records for WRNL in Richmond, Virginia and WSEN in Syracuse, New York where he picked the nickname, ‘Early.’ His next stop was Kansas City at KCKN in 1967. The following year he was with Nashville’s WENO. Then he moved into music publishing, first for Newkey Publishing and then as a record promoter for Tree International. He co-wrote several country tunes and also worked with the Johnny Cash television show and House of Cash. It was during this period he narrated a children’s musical album based on Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” for Golden Books’ recording division.
After moving to Florida, he found deejay work with Bradenton’s WTRL AM-1490 and WBRD AM-1420. Eventually, radio took a back seat and he went on to become a successful sales executive for Meridian Staffing in the employee-leasing field.
Early Williams passed away in August 1999 at the age of 63 as the result of a shooting accident in front of his home.
1975 - 1985 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (On Air Personality)