Pianist Roger Williams on his hit recording of Autumn Leaves (which was recorded three days after signing his contract with Kapp records):
“I said, ‘You mean ‘Falling Leaves’? I didn’t even know the title,” Mr. Williams told the Los Angeles Times in 1996. “I stayed up Friday and then Saturday night working on an arrangement.”
“The first thing that came to mind was to play all those runs down the keyboard,” Mr. Williams said in an earlier Times interview. “I tried to make it sound like falling leaves.”
The first recording run-through was slightly more than three minutes, so Kapp [director of Kapp records] asked him to speed it up because DJs at the time wouldn’t play a song longer than that length, Mr. Williams often said.
The second time around, “Autumn Leaves” came in at 2:59. “I owed two months’ rent on our apartment,” Mr. Williams said in the 1996 interview. “I had a wife and a baby at the time. My fondest dream for ‘Autumn Leaves’ was that it would pay the rent. And boy, it’s been doing it ever since.”
Source: Nelson, Valerie. “Roger Williams, popular pianist and pop hitmaker, dies at 87“.The Washington Post. 10 October 2011.Accessed 2 February 2013.