Arts & Entertainment

Roger Williams, famed pianist dies at 87

Pianist Roger Williams.
Pianist Roger Williams.
David McNew/Getty Images

Roger Williams, the virtuoso pianist who topped Billboard charts with classics like "Autumn Leaves" and "Born Free," died Saturday. He was 87.

His former publicist, Rob Wilcox, said Williams died in his Los Angeles home of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Williams was best know for his skills as an adept improviser and his ability to move effortlessly between classical, jazz and pop styles.

His 1955 hit "Autumn Leaves" is the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts. It remains the best-selling piano record of all time.

Nicknamed the "pianist to the presidents," Williams played for every commander in chief from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.

Video of Roger Williams playing "Autumn Leaves" at the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles: