COHOES, N.Y. – Legendary blues musician Ernie Williams was honored in Cohoes Friday.
Mayor George Primeau and the Cohoes Common Council declared July 26th, 2013 “Ernie Williams Day” in The City of Cohoes.
Hundreds of people filled Canal Square Friday night in Cohoes, to honor a man who was inducted into the New York State Blues Hall of Fame, but never forgot where his roots were.
“There was something about Cohoes that just fit him well,” says Ernie's wife Kathy. “I think it's because there are so many levels of people here, and Ernie loved everybody.”
Kathy Williams says Ernie spent much of his life traveling, but one of his favorite spots to perform was the Canal Square Stage. In a dedication given by Cohoes Mayor George Primeau and former mayor John McDonald, the stage now permanently carries his name, as the “Ernie Williams Band Stand”.
“I know he would just love this,” says Kathy Williams. “I know he would just love being here and seeing his name on the front of the stage.”
“He was loved here,” adds Rocky Petrocelli. “He loved the people here.”
Petrocelli played alongside Williams for almost two decades as his drummer. Petrocelli says the music world lost a great man when Williams passed in March of 2012.
“As a performer, he was very exciting,” he says. “It was very fun to play behind him. You never knew what to expect. As musicians, we would just have just a lot of fun trying to keep up with him to be honest with you.”
Williams shared the stage with stars like Aretha Franklin and BB King. But in the end, Williams' wife says there is no greater feeling for her than to know the people in Cohoes were some of his biggest fans.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to know that people have not forgotten,” says Williams. “But it's also difficult, because you feel like you're just making a couple of steps ahead and then you're pulled back in. But he deserves this honor and I hope we have more of them.”