David Williams

Guitarist on Jackson hits

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.

Alberto Zoppe

Circus equestrian, Ring of Famer

Alberto Zoppe, 87, whose somersaults from one horse to another helped him earn a place in the circus world's Ring of Fame, died March 5 in Greenbrier, Ark., of respiratory failure, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Zoppe immigrated to the United States in 1948 in a trade with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, his wife, Sandra, said. In exchange for Ringling sending an elephant to the Zoppe circus in Italy, Zoppe would perform in the U.S. He often worked with Pascha the Wonder Horse, who lived to 38, was housebroken and could answer questions with a shake of the head or the stomp of a hoof, Zoppe's widow said.

Giovanni Alberto Zoppe was born in Italy on Jan. 4, 1922, and had performed equestrian acts since his youth in the family circus.

In 2007, Zoppe was inducted into the Ring of Fame at Sarasota, Fla.

-- times staff and wire reports