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Musical talent with ‘beautiful voice’

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Musical talent: Rueben "Chico" Williams poses with his Canadian band, Chico and Bermuda Life in the 1970's.

Reuben “Chico” Williams started his career making music in Bermuda but his “passion for music” led him to Canada where he ended up living for 45 years.

At 77 years old, the popular Sixties musician died on August 5 after a long battle with cancer.

He was born in Bermuda in 1939 and as a teenager he formed a group called the Bermuda Merrymakers, a calypso steel band that wrote an album titled At Horseshoe Bay under the Bermuda-based label Edmar Records, founded by well-known promoter Eddy DeMello.

In 1969, a 30-year-old Mr Williams travelled to Newfoundland on a two-week booking with his band — and he didn’t return.

There he formed a new band called Chico and Bermuda Life, playing the piano, guitar and singing island music to hundreds around the country.

He also met his wife and best friend of 35 years, Betty, and became a blended family with five stepchildren and six of his own. Once Chico and Bermuda Life split up, Mr Williams continued to play his piano as a solo act, performing shows in several hotels before he retired in the late 1980s.

He then went on to gospel music and played the organ for his local church choir, Cowan Heights United Church in St John’s for more than 20 years.

In 2003, Mr and Mrs Williams moved home from St John’s to Bellevue. There he joined three different choirs — the Faith United Church, where he was a soloist, Norman’s Cove Pastoral Charge Choir and the community choir which performed and hosted benefits in the Trinity Bay area.

Mrs Williams said: “Chico was extremely well known and well loved. He had a beautiful voice and his talents will be missed by many people.”

Mr Williams is the brother of singer, body builder and martial artist Sensei Burnell Williams.

“Chico was always a very passionate, talented and humorous person. He could make you laugh in two minutes. When he went to Canada with Lloyd Simmons and his band and did not come back, everyone told him, you must be crazy. But he loved it there.”

Happy couple: Rueben "Chico" Williams with wife Betty
Music man: Rueben “Chico” Williams on vocals and keys
In style: Rueben "Chico" Williams
Band remembered: Rueben "Chico" Williams poses with his Canadian band, Chico and Bermuda Life in the 1970's.
Making a name for himself: Rueben “Chico” Williams performing with The Bermuda Merrymakers in the 1960s