Featured Voices: Charlie Williams

Charlie Williams: The Noise Guy (Image courtesy NoiseGuy.com)

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle has an interview with Charlie Williams, aka “The Noise Guy” (or “Onomatopoet”), who has an incredible gift for vocal sound effects.

Williams is also an author, DJ, cartoonist, educator, kids comedian and performer, and has released 8 recordings showcasing his vocal SFX and stories for children. And he performs a routine he calls “Star Wars in three minutes.”

His most recent recording, “Sugar Frosted Noisy Tales,” features “naturally sweetened kids stories” and is described as being full of “crazy kid comedy, parody, imagination [and] silliness.”

Williams’ site — noiseguy.com — is a Flash-animated cartoony playground featuring his repertoire as a “vocal sound impressionist.”

He also has a YouTube Channel with video of his performances and TV interviews such as this one:

Update: 1.18.2010
YumaSun.com has a recent interview with Charlie as well, which I found through Charlie’s Noise Guy/Sound Safari fan page on Facebook.

On a related note, I’ve been developing a feature article on vocal sound effects, featuring some of the top vocal noisemakers in the industry: Fred Newman, Frank Welker, Dee Bradley Baker, Michael Winslow, Marsha Crenshaw, beatbox (aka “vocal percussion”) master Rahzel and the late-great Victor Borge. (Charlie Williams will, of course, be included, and I hope to have interviews with a few of these individuals as well to accompany the article.)

But I’ve hit a snag in the article. There’s one performer that stands out in my memory whom I believe was one of the original “pioneers” of vocal SFX. But for the life of me, I can’t remember his name.*

[* Now identified as Wes Harrison. See 1.17.2010 update below.]

When I was a kid (back in the late 70s), my grandparents had in their vinyl record collection a recording (possibly from the 50s or 60s) which featured live and studio-recorded performances by a Grand Master of vocal sound effects. The live portions resembled a sort of stand-up comedy performance, and he performed using a bullhorn (which I recall he said he kept in his car to pull pranks on other drivers and pedestrians).

He also performed live the most complex vocal sound effect I’ve ever heard: a train going from start to stop, and even moving between cars in the middle.

It was simply one of the most astounding things I’ve ever heard and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to replicate the performance.

If anyone could help me track down this performer’s name, I would be incredibly grateful. And once I find out the guy’s name, I can try tracking down a copy of the LP which I’ve been wanting to own…well, for nearly my entire life.

Also, if you notice any names I didn’t mention in my list above that you feel should be included in my article, please post them via the comment box below.

Update: 1.17.2010 — A very special thanks to voice talent Lee Gordon (LeeGordonProductions.com) for helping to I.D. the voice of Wes Harrison (via the VO-BB.com message board).

Thanks to Lee, I was thrilled to discover that Wes Harrison is not only still alive (and still performing at the age of 84), but he also has an official website: MrSoundEffects.com.

And here’s a video of Harrison performing live the famous steam train bit (which I described earlier):

Also thanks to voice talent Liz de Nesnera (hireliz.com) for the suggestion to include Victor Borge.

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