Roger Williams, is an American popular music pianist. As of 2004, he had released 116 albums.
He is the son of a Lutheran minister and a music teacher, in Omaha, Nebraska, but before his first birthday the family moved to Des Moines, Iowa. He first played the piano at age three. In high school he became interested in boxing, mainly at his father’s insistence, and only returned to music after breaking his nose several times and sustaining several other injuries.
He majored in piano at Drake University in Des Moines, but was expelled for playing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in the practice room. Weertz entered the United States Navy and served in World War II. While still in the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State College in 1950. Afterwards Weertz re-enrolled at Drake, where he earned his master’s degree. He then moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music. At Juilliard he studied jazz piano under Lennie Tristano and Teddy Wilson.
One night Weertz was scheduled to play as an accompanist for a Juilliard student who was to sing on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. When the singer failed to appear, Weertz went on as a piano soloist and won the night’s contest. He was heard by David Kapp, founder of Kapp Records. Kapp was so impressed that he signed the pianist, changing his name to ‘Roger Williams’ after the founder of Rhode Island. In addition to the Godfrey program, Williams also won a talent contest on Dennis James’ program, Chance of a Lifetime.