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Guitarist on Jackson hits

March 16, 2009|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

David Williams, 58, a session guitar player who performed and recorded with Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Temptations, among others, died of cardiac arrest March 6 at the Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Va., after suffering a stroke March 2.

A native of Newport News, Va., Williams had moved to Hampton after years living in California and on the road.

Williams played guitar on many of Jackson's biggest hits, including those from the albums "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad." His funky, strummed solo in Jackson's hit "Billie Jean" showed off his signature rhythmic touch. Through the 1980s, his guitar style was one of the most in-demand sounds in pop music, although Williams remained a behind-the-scenes figure.

Born Nov. 21, 1950, Williams learned to play guitar as a child. He started his professional career at 18 with the Dells. But his career was interrupted when he was drafted into the Army for service in Vietnam. When he returned home, he got a gig with the Temptations. Eventually, he settled in Los Angeles and began doing studio work.

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