Richard Gene Williams, trumpet player, known as "Notes" Williams, was born in Galveston on May 4, 1931. Williams started playing the tenor saxophone at an early age but switched to the trumpet during his teenage years. He played in the Galveston area before enrolling in the music program at Wiley College, Marshall, Texas. After completing his degree in 1951, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served diligently over the next few years.
In 1956, upon being discharged, he joined with Lionel Hampton and toured Europe with Hampton's band. After spending three years on the road, Williams settled in New York City and received a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music (1961). He also became a regular player with Charles Mingus's Jazz Workshop.
Williams devoted himself to playing full-time in New York, where he rose to prominence. In 1960 he recorded his only solo album, New Horn In Town. Through the 1960s and 1970s he played with Max Roach, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington, and fellow Texan Booker Ervin. He toured Europe and Japan and recorded with Thad Jones and Mel Lewis in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s he was in Europe, where he occasionally led his own quartet. Williams also performed on the original Broadway recordings of the musicals The Me Nobody Knows and The Wiz. He recorded as a sideman several times in the later 1970s and was a member the Mingus Dynasty (1982) and coleader of a quintet with Harold Vick (1980). Williams also played on Broadway and for the Orchestra U.S.A. He died of cancer on November 5, 1985, in Jamaica, New York.