One of original members of the Commodores dies at 58

Published 6:52 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Milan B. Williams, a Mississippi native who was one of the original members of the band the Commodores, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

Williams died Sunday at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said JoAnn Geffen, a spokeswoman for the Commodores.

He had been receiving treatment the last four to five months for leukemia at the hospital.

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Williams, who played keyboards, was one of the founding members of the band. It formed in 1968 while all the members were in college at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

The band, whose best known member was singer Lionel Richie, had a series of hits during the 1970s and 1980s, including “Brick House,” “Easy” and “Three Times A Lady.” Williams wrote the band’s first hit, “Machine Gun.”

Williams, who was a member of the Commodores for 20 years, was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.

“He was once, twice, three times a brother and we love him. He gave all that he could give to the Commodores. He’ll always be remembered,” said band member Walter Orange.

The funeral will be on Friday in Okolona, Miss., where Williams was born. There will be a memorial service in Los Angeles in August.

He is survived by his wife, Melanie Bruno-Williams, and two sons from previous marriages, Jason and Ricci.