Four Piece Cream Colored Suit with Rust Velvet Trim, 1977
Worn by Roger Williams
Roger Williams, world-renowned pianist, wore this suit for the first time for his appearance with the Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Concert. It was subsequently worn for concerts at the White House for President Nixon and Ford. The suit was also worn when Mr. Williams preformed with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra in the city’s first Summer Pops Night in 1977. The suit was then given to Museum on June 10th, 1977.
In 1975, the curator of Textiles at the Museum saw Roger Williams perform with the Boston Symphony orchestra on television. She wrote to Mr. Williams complimenting the performance and adding a request to have the suit that he wore to be donated to the collection. She wrote, “It occurred to me that your formal suit would be a very significant addition to our collection, its modern and sophisticate as it is, it borrows inspiration from a much earlier period. Is there a possibility that you might consider placing it in our museum when you have finished your season of wearing it?” In a hand written response, Mr. Williams said, “That’s a brand new suit, but when I’m through wearing it, it’s yours!”
Roger Williams is known for his 1955 hit “Autumn Leaves” which was the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts. It remains the best-selling piano record of all time, with more than 2 million sold.
He was nicknamed the “pianist to the presidents,” Mr. Williams played for every commander in chief from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. His last trip to the White House was in 2008, when he performed at a luncheon for then-first lady Laura Bush.
Mr. Williams was good friends with Jimmy Carter, with whom he shared a birthday. When the two men turned 80, Mr. Williams played a 12-hour marathon at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, with the former president in attendance.
Roger Williams passed away on October 8th 2011, he was 87.