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Alligator Jackson’s David Williams

By Staff | Aug 12, 2008

Huntington’s David Williams is sometimes known more as his muse — a little stuffed alligator from Florida. Alligator Jackson is the mascot for his Southern rock band, his writing nom de plume and sometimes, Williams’ alter ego. Williams has also had a lifelong knack for finding (or being related to) people who’ve made it big-time.

In Williams’ own words: “I remember Jeff (Westlake) getting his first guitar. Jeff is now doing great as the lead guitarist of Hydrogyn. I remembering seeing my first concert —Molly Hatchet in Huntington — with Jeff on the Flirting With Disaster tour — AJ’s music is heavily influenced by Hatchet — and seein’ Dio in Charleston with Jeff in the early ’80s. Jeff has an ex-Dio guitarist Craig Goldy in his band now.”

“In the late ’80s, I worked on the night crew at Big Bear. Some of my co-workers and I would get off work on Saturday around midnight and head down to the old Ragtime Lounge, to see a local newcomer. A new guy from Flatwoods, named Billy Ray Cyrus, played there for years and I watched him in the late ’80s. He filled the bar with women. But I enjoyed his music. He loved Lynyrd Skynyd. He’d come up to my table and would always say, ‘Wanna hear some Skynyrd? I’ll play ya some Skynyrd.’He did a great version of Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell.’ Best I ever heard. You could tell he was gonna be big. I miss hearing the classics that he sang ever week but never recorded. There was the tri-state classic ‘It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over.’ I’d love to have that mp3 but doubt if it’s around. I miss hearing ‘Babysitter,’ ‘Remember,’ the original version of ‘Should I Stay or Go,’ and an alternate version of ‘Appalachian Lady.’ These songs are lost in time because he never released them. I remember being at the Paramount Theatre for the filming of the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ video. It took over 20 takes. There is a brief glimpse of gator’s back as the video comes on!”

“I remember in the early ’90s bragging to my mom and dad ,about how great Billy Ray is and how big he was going to be and that he was signed to Mercury Records. They said that my cousin Scott was going to release a CD. I was like, ‘Really?’I wasn’t impressed. Scott was my second cousin, my Uncle’ Rip’s grandson. I met him only a couple of times when we visited his family in Chagrin Falls, near Cleveland, and stayed with them a few days. He was a Dennis the Menace type kid and I couldn’t imagine him being a singer. He was in California living and his band Mighty Joe Young was recording a CD. Lil’ cousin Scott? Due to the fact that an old blues singer had the name, Mighty Joe Young had been copywritten, so they changed their name to Stone Temple Pilots. Though my cousin Scott Weiland now sings with a band named Velvet Revolver with some big hat wearin’ guy named Slash.”

For more info, check out www.alligatorjackson.com.

Graffiti: Have you always been from West Virginia? Where do you live?

Williams: I was actually born in Cincinnati. I lived in Cumberland for a while but have been in the Huntington area for over 30 years. I graduated from Marshall with a master’s degree.

Graffiti: You write a lot of songs based on your home. Is that what influences you the most?

Williams: I think most writers write about what they know. I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful area that most people take for granted, so I like to share the beauty with people overseas and let them know about this great area.       

Graffiti: Why do you have an underground band and haven’t been taking it live?

Williams: We are in the process of getting the band above ground. My main singer lives in North Carolina, but a good friend Tracy Dement from my area is taking over. We are just a bass player away from playing live, I suppose. No one realizes how important a bass player is until you don’t have one. We are a little cutting edge. I mean, the music is definitely Skynyrd-style classic Southern rock but the lyrics aren’t always what radio wants to play.  

Graffiti: Your CD sells internationally. Tell me about that.

Williams: I’ve had reviews printed in French magazines in French, so I really don’t know if it’s a good review or not. Southern rock is very popular overseas and the CD has taken a life of its own. My Web site gets hits everyday from London, Paris, Rome, Iraq, Brazil and places I’ve never heard of. I give free downloads away on my site.       

Contact Tamar at tfleishman@graffitiwv.com