Paul Williams (songwriter)
Paul Hamilton Williams Jr. (born September 19, 1940) is an American composer, singer, songwriter and actor. He is known for writing and co-writing popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s, including Three Dog Night's "An Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Out in the Country", Helen Reddy's "You and Me Against the World", David Bowie's "Fill Your Heart" and the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" and "Rainy Days and Mondays".
|Birth name||Paul Hamilton Williams Jr.|
|Born||September 19, 1940|
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Labels||A&M, Reprise, Portrait|
Williams is also known for writing the score and lyrics for Bugsy Malone (1976) and his musical contributions to other films, including the Oscar-nominated song "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, and writing the lyrics to the #1 chart-topping song "Evergreen", the love theme from the Barbra Streisand film A Star Is Born, for which he won a Grammy for Song of the Year and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. He wrote the lyrics to the opening theme for the television show The Love Boat, with music previously composed by Charles Fox, which was originally sung by Jack Jones and, later, by Dionne Warwick.
Williams had a variety of high-profile acting roles, such as "Little Enos Burdette" in the action-comedy Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and the villainous Swan in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974), which Williams also co-scored, receiving an Oscar nomination in the process. Since 2009, Williams has been the president and chairman of the American songwriting society ASCAP.
His father died in a car accident in 1953, when Williams was 13 years old, after which Williams grew up living with his aunt. As a result, Williams moved to Long Beach, California, with his family and attended Woodrow Wilson Classical High School.
One of his brothers was John J. Williams, a NASA rocket scientist, who participated in the Mercury and Apollo programs and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, their highest honor, in 1969. His other brother was Mentor Williams, a songwriter as well who wrote Dobie Gray's 1973 hit "Drift Away".
Williams began his professional songwriting career with Biff Rose in Los Angeles. The two men first met while working together on a television comedy show. Together, they wrote the song "Fill Your Heart" which was recorded by Rose on his first album, The Thorn in Mrs. Roses Side. Soon thereafter Tiny Tim covered it as the B-side of his hit "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" (1968). David Bowie also recorded a faithful version of the song on his album Hunky Dory (1971). Rose and Williams also wrote "I'll Walk Away" (recorded by Rose on his third, eponymous album). Rose was instrumental in getting Williams his break with A&M Records which resulted in Williams working with songwriter Roger Nichols. Williams and Nichols were responsible for a number of successful pop hits from the 1970s, including several hits for Three Dog Night (the aforementioned "An Old Fashioned Love Song", as well as "The Family of Man" and "Out in the Country"), Helen Reddy ("You and Me Against the World"), and the Carpenters, most notably "Rainy Days and Mondays", "I Won't Last a Day Without You", and "We've Only Just Begun", originally a song for a Crocker National Bank television commercial featuring newlyweds, and which has since become a cover-band standard and de rigueur for weddings throughout North America.
An early collaboration with Roger Nichols, "Someday Man", was covered by the Monkees (a group for which he auditioned but was not chosen) on a 1969 single, and was the first Monkees' release not published by Screen Gems.
A frequent cowriter of Williams' was musician Kenneth Ascher. Their songs together included the popular children's favorite "Rainbow Connection", sung by Jim Henson (as Kermit the Frog) in The Muppet Movie (1979). They also wrote "You And Me Against The World", which became a Top 10 hit on Billboard for Helen Reddy in 1974.
Williams worked on the music for a number of films, including writing and singing on Phantom of the Paradise (1974) in which he also starred and earned an Oscar nomination for the music, and Bugsy Malone (1976). Williams also wrote and sang the song "Where Do I Go from Here", which was used in the end credits of the Michael Cimino-directed film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which starred Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. He contributed lyrics to the Cinderella Liberty song "You're So Nice to Be Around" with music by John Williams, and it earned them an Oscar nomination. Along with Ascher and Rupert Holmes, he wrote the music and lyrics to A Star Is Born (also 1976), with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The love ballad, "Evergreen", (lyrics by Paul Williams, melody by Barbra Streisand) from the movie A Star Is Born won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy for Song of the Year. He has been nominated on other occasions for an Academy Award and several Golden Globe Awards.
He wrote the music for a musical production of Happy Days that debuted in 2007 and also made a cameo appearance as an animated version of himself singing "Breathe in the Sunshine" in the hit animated series Dexter's Laboratory.[failed verification] He wrote and sang "What Would They Say", the theme song from the made-for-television film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), a film starring John Travolta alongside Diana Hyland.
In March 2012, it was announced that Williams had "written a couple of tunes" on Random Access Memories, the album of French electronic duo Daft Punk. He co-wrote and sang vocals on "Touch" and co-wrote "Beyond". Williams and Nile Rodgers were the only featured artists to speak on behalf of Daft Punk at the 2014 Grammy Awards upon their receipt of the Album of the Year award for Random Access Memories. Williams told an anecdote about his work with Daft Punk: "Back when I was drinking, I would imagine things that weren't there and I'd get frightened. Then I got sober and two robots called and asked me to make an album." He also communicated a "message from the robots" to the audience: "As elegant and as classy as the Grammy has ever been is the moment when we saw those wonderful marriages and "Same Love" is fantastic. It is the height of fairness and love and the power of love for all people at any time in any combination. Captain Kirk uses the Enterprise. They sail on a ship called Generosity. They are generous in spirit ... This is a labor of love and we are all so grateful."
Williams is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and his songs have been performed by both pop and country music artists. In April 2009, Williams was elected President and Chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
In September 2015, Williams, along with bass player Kasim Sulton, led a global virtual songwriting collaboration at Hookist.com. The mission was to write the 1st ever crowd-sourced anthem to be performed at FacingAddiction.org's concert and rally on The National Mall on October 4, 2015, headlined by Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow and Joe Walsh among others. The theme of the song was "Celebrate Recovery" and the goal was to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. Williams, Sulton and Dr. Mehmet Oz opened the show and led 10,000 people in a singalong of "Voice Of Change" at the base of the Washington Monument. Sulton also led a singalong of the song on The Dr. Oz Show which quickly went viral.
Film and television careerEdit
Although predominantly known for his music, Paul Williams has also appeared in films and many television guest spots, such as the Faustian record producer Swan in Brian DePalma's film Phantom of the Paradise (1974)—a rock and roll adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, Faust, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, for which Williams also wrote the songs—and as Virgil, the genius orangutan in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).
On February 9, 1973, Williams made a joke appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in which he sang a song in full make-up as Virgil. He also played Migelito Loveless, Jr. in The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979), a reunion movie featuring the original cast of the television series The Wild Wild West. He played himself, singing a song to Felix Unger's daughter Edna, on the television series The Odd Couple in 1974. He made his film debut as Gunther Fry in the satire The Loved One (1965).
After appearing on The Muppet Show in 1976, Williams worked closely with Jim Henson's Henson Productions on The Muppet Movie, working on the soundtrack and appearing in a cameo part as the piano player in the nightclub (who had a sign on the piano saying "Don't shoot piano player") where Kermit the Frog meets Fozzie Bear. He was also the lyricist for Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.
Williams was hired by TV producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas to write title tracks for two of their ABC comedies, It Takes Two (1982–1983), on which he sang a duet with Crystal Gayle, and Condo (1983), in which Williams' theme was sung by Drake Frye. Williams also composed and performed the theme to the McLean Stevenson sitcom The McLean Stevenson Show in 1976.
Williams also composed, and sang "Flying Dreams" for the animated film The Secret of NIMH.
Williams has appeared in many minor roles. He provided the voice of The Penguin in Batman: The Animated Series. He appeared on an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger as a radio DJ covering a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. He appeared in 2008 in an episode of Nickelodeon's children's show Yo Gabba Gabba! entitled "Weather", where he performed "Rainbow Connection". He has also appeared on Cartoon Network's Dexter's Laboratory where he played Professor Williams in an episode entitled "Just An Old Fashioned Lab Song".
He made numerous television appearances in the 1970s and 1980s, including on The Odd Couple, Hawaii Five-O, Match Game '79, Hollywood Squares, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Hardy Boys, The Fall Guy, The Flip Wilson Special, Gimme A Break, and The Gong Show. He has also guest-starred in the Babylon 5 episode "Acts of Sacrifice" (Season 2 Episode 12) as Taq, the aide to Correlilmurzon, an alien ambassador whose species finalizes treaties and agreements by having sex with the other signees.
In a bit of subtle irony, Williams also appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Virtuoso" as the leader of a planet that has never heard music before. Williams appeared on an episode of Picket Fences as the brother of the just deceased Ginny Weedon (Zelda Rubinstein). While eulogizing Ginny, he sings a small part of "Rainbow Connection". He starred as Ferdinand the Bull in a musical half-hour TV production of the same name written by the Sherman Brothers.
In October 1980, Williams was host of the Mickey Mouse Club 25th Anniversary Special on NBC-TV. He stated that he tried out for the show in early 1955 and was turned down. He was a frequent guest and performer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He also appears as the man making the phone call at the beginning of the music video for Hank Williams Jr.'s song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight". In 2014, he appeared on Community as an illegal textbook dealer who declines to purchase a batch of misprinted chemistry textbooks. Williams appeared in the 2017 film Baby Driver as the Butcher, an arms dealer.
He portrayed the character of Little Enos Burdette in Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983). He has a recurring role as a former lawyer and information source in 2018's season 2 and 2019's season 3 of Goliath.
Williams has been married three times. He has two children, Sarah and Cole Williams (born 1981), from his first marriage (1971) to Kate Clinton. In 1993 he married Hilda Keenan Wynn, daughter of actor Keenan Wynn. He is now married to writer Mariana Williams.
An experienced skydiver, Williams completed over 100 jumps in the 1970s.
Williams struggled with alcohol and substance abuse during the 1970s and 1980s. Sober since 1990, Williams has been active in the field of recovery from addictions and became a Certified Drug Rehabilitation Counselor through UCLA. In 2014, he co-authored Gratitude and Trust: Recovery is Not Just for Addicts, with Tracey Jackson.
- "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)", (#1 hit for Barbra Streisand - Billboard Hot 100)
- "I Won't Last a Day Without You", (#1 hit for Carpenters - Billboard Adult Contemporary)
- "Rainy Days and Mondays", (#1 hit for Carpenters - Billboard Adult Contemporary)
- "We've Only Just Begun" (#1 hit for Carpenters - Billboard Adult Contemporary)
- "The Family of Man" (Canadian #5 hit for Three Dog Night)
- "Out in the Country" (#15 hit for Three Dog Night)
- "Talk It Over in the Morning" (Canadian #1 hit for Anne Murray)
- "You and Me Against the World" (US Easy Listening #1 hit for Helen Reddy)
- "Rainbow Connection" (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated song, Entered into the US Library of Congress Archive)
- "Flying Dreams" (from The Secret of NIMH soundtrack)
- "Let Me Be the One" (#18 U.S R&B chart hit for The Carpenters and Al Wilson)
- "Someday Man" (The Monkees – 1969 – "B" Side of "Listen to the Band" single)
- "Touch" (Daft Punk – 2013 – Random Access Memories)
- "You're Gone" (US Country #4 hit for Diamond Rio)
TV themes (lyricist)Edit
- Griffin and Phoenix (1976 TV movie, theme song "A Perfect Love" video by Gord Ritchie)
- The McLean Stevenson Show
- Another Day (1978 TV series theme song)
- The Love Boat
- It Takes Two
- Sugar Time!
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
- Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
- Bugsy Malone (1976)
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
- The End (1978)
- The Muppet Movie (1979)
- The Night They Saved Christmas (1984)
- Ishtar (1987)
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
- The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
- Bugsy Malone (1997)
- Happy Days (2007)
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (2008)
- "Where Do I Go From Here" (composed and performed by Williams for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) (1974)
- "Evergreen (Love Song from A Star Is Born)" (lyrics written by Williams, Academy and Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song) (1976)
- "What Would They Say?" (for The Boy in the Plastic Bubble starring John Travolta and Diana Hyland) (1976)
- "Rainbow Connection" (co-composed by Williams for The Muppet Movie) (1979)
- "Flying Dreams" (co-composed with Jerry Goldsmith and performed by Williams for The Secret of N.I.M.H) (1982)
- "When Love is Gone" (co-composed by Williams for The Muppet Christmas Carol) (1992)
- "If We Could Remember" (co-composed with Jerry Goldsmith for The Sum of All Fears) (2002)
- "Still Alive" (composed and performed by Williams for Paul Williams Still Alive) (2011)
- "I Love You Too Much" and "The Apology Song" (co-composed with Gustavo Santaolalla for The Book of Life) (2014)
- "Time and Tide" (composed by Paul Williams and performed by Dale Menten for Lifeguard) (1976)
|Year||Title||Label||US Chart||AUS Charts|
|196?||Words and Music by Paul Williams||Big Seven Music Corp.||-|
|1971||Just an Old Fashioned Love Song||A&M||141||22|
|1972||Life Goes On||A&M||159||-|
|1974||Here Comes Inspiration||A&M||165||-|
|1974||A Little Bit of Love||A&M||95||-|
|1979||A Little on the Windy Side||Portrait||90|
|1981||...And Crazy for Loving You||PalD||-|
|1997||Back to Love Again||-|
|2005||I'm Going Back There Someday||AIX||-|
|1974||Phantom of the Paradise||A&M||94|
|1976||A Star Is Born||Columbia||Motion Picture Soundtrack; with Kenny Ascher|
|1977||One on One: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||Warner Bros.||Lyrics by Williams, music by Charles Fox; performed by Seals and Crofts|
|1979||The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording||Atlantic||By Williams and Kenny Ascher|
|1982||The Secret of NIMH: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||MCA||Williams performs the song "Flying Dreams"|
|1987||Ishtar||Lyrics by Williams|
|1992||The Muppet Christmas Carol||Walt Disney Records|
|1974||The Best of Paul Williams||A&M|
|2004||Evergreens: The Best of the A&M Years||Hip-O Select|
- The Holy Mackerel (with The Holy Mackerel )
- We've Only Just Begun (by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams)
- Random Access Memories (Daft Punk) 
|1965||The Loved One||Gunther Fry||credited as Paul H. Williams|
|1970||Watermelon Man||Employment Office Clerk||credited as Paul H. Williams|
|1973||Battle for the Planet of the Apes||Virgil|
|1974||Phantom of the Paradise||Swan|
|1977||Smokey and the Bandit||Little Enos|
|1978||The Cheap Detective||Boy|
|1979||The Muppet Movie||El Sleezo pianist|
|1979||Stone Cold Dead||Julius Kurtz|
|1980||Smokey and the Bandit II||Little Enos|
|1982||The Secret of NIMH||The Balladeer (voice)||Uncredited|
|1983||Smokey and the Bandit Part 3||Little Enos|
|1990||Solar Crisis||Freddy the Bomb (voice)|
|1991||The Doors||Warhol PR|
|1994||Police Rescue||Paul Skelton|
|1994||A Million to Juan||Jenkins|
|1995||Headless Body in Topless Bar||Carl Levin|
|2002||The Rules of Attraction||Duty Doctor|
|2004||The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement||Lord Harmony|
|2007||Georgia Rule||Mr. Wells|
|2010||Valentine's Day||Romeo Midnight (voice)|
|2011||Paul Williams Still Alive||Himself|
|2012||The Ghastly Love of Johnny X||Cousin Quilty|
|2017||Baby Driver||The Butcher|
|2020||Superman: Red Son||Brainiac (voice)|
|1970–1982||The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||Himself|
|1973–1975||The Midnight Special||Host|
|1974||The Odd Couple||Himself|
|1975||When Things Were Rotten||Guy de Maupassant|
|1976||Good Heavens||Henry Clyde|
|1976||The McLean Stevenson Show||Himself|
|1976||The Muppet Show||Himself|
|1977||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Allison Troy|
|1977||Police Woman||Willy Jaques|
|1977||The Brady Bunch Hour||Himself|
|1977||The Donny & Marie Show||Himself|
|1977||The Captain and Tennille Show||Himself|
|1978–1982||The Love Boat||Various|
|1979||Hawaii Five-O||Tim Powers / Stringer|
|1979||The Mary Tyler Moore Hour||Himself|
|1979||The Wild Wild West Revisited||Dr. Miguelito Loveless, Jr.||TV movie|
|1981||B. J. and the Bear||Dante Defoe|
|1981–1982||The Fall Guy||Various|
|1982||Rooster||Rooster Steele||TV movie|
|1985||Silver Spoons||Al Butler|
|1984||The Night They Saved Christmas||Ed||TV movie|
|1987||Gimme a Break!||Captain Jerk|
|1989||227||Stan||"Play It Again, Stan"|
|1990||The Trials of Rosie O'Neill||Sven Ingerson|
|1991||She-Wolf of London||Harvey the Troll|
|1993||Hart to Hart Returns||Duke|
|1994||Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die||Duke|
|1994||Picket Fences||Benjamin Weedon|
|1995||Walker, Texas Ranger||Tumbleweed Tom|
|1996||Boston Common||Father Rooney|
|1997||Perversions of Science||Dr. Mueller|
|1997||Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show||Mahoney the Giant|
|1998||The Bold and the Beautiful||Bailey Masterson|
|2000||Star Trek: Voyager||Koru|
|2008||A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa||The Head Elf|
|2008||Yo Gabba Gabba!||Performer|
|2011||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Himself|
|2013–2017||Fast N' Loud||Himself|
|2014||Community||Britta's Contact||"VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing"|
|2018–2019||Goliath||James "JT" Reginald III|||
|1991||The Last Halloween||Gleep||TV short|
|Timeless Tales from Hallmark||Frogbrauten||Episode: "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"|
|1992||Fish Police||Episode: "No Way to Treat a Fillet-dy"|
|1992–1994||Batman: The Animated Series||The Penguin / Oswald Cobblepot||7 episodes|
|1992–1993||The Pirates of Dark Water||Garen||13 episodes|
|1993||The Legend of Prince Valiant||Grafton Commander / Brother John||2 episodes|
|The Town Santa Forgot||Pomp the Elf||Christmas television special|
|1994–1995||Phantom 2040||Mr. Cairo||13 episodes|
|1995||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Izzith||Episode: "Where Have All the Monsters Gone?"|
|The Tick||Mother of Invention||Episode: "Leonardo da Vinci and His Fightin' Genius Time Commandos!"|
|Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Kujo||Episode: "Five Ring Panda-Monium"|
|1998||The New Batman Adventures||The Penguin / Oswald Cobblepot||4 episodes|
|Dexter's Laboratory||Professor Williams||Episode: "Just an Old Fashioned Lab Song"|
|Superman: The Animated Series||The Penguin / Oswald Cobblepot||Episode: "Knight Time"|
|2015||Adventure Time||The Hierophant||Episode: "Stakes" Parts 2,3 And 5|
|2016–2018||Future-Worm!||Future Danny||2 episodes|
|2019||Twelve Forever||Captain Elmer||Episode: "Stranger Forever"|
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- "Songwriters Hall of Fame Bio". Archived from the original on October 1, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
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- "Unite To Face Addiction Lineup". Archived from the original on December 12, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
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- "Dr Oz Unite To Face Addiction". Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE2m355-JRoHe was "Little Enos Burdette" in Smokey and the Bandit.
- "Which McLean Stevenson sitcom deserved a better chance?". Me-TV Network.
- O'Neal, Sean. "Paul Williams will also be on Community". AV Club Newswire. The AV Club. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Diego, Donald, "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing", Community, Sony Television
- "Family for Keenan Wynn". Turner Classic Movies.
- The arc of Williams life and substance abuse in the 1970s and 1980s is detailed in the documentary Paul Williams Still Alive.
- "Biography: Paul Williams Official". Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- "Barbra Streisand Billboard Hot 100 chart history". billboard.com. March 5, 1977. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
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- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 338. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Griffiths, John. "Billy Bob Thornton on 'Goliath': 'I Play It As If It's Me'". AARP.
- Skinner, Curtis (2001), Contemporary Authors Online, Detroit: Gale, ISBN 978-0-7876-3995-2
- Williams, Paul; Jackson, Tracey (2015), Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life, Plume, ISBN 978-0147517968
- ASCAP (1980) The ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, 4th ed., p. 545 ISBN 0-8352-1283-1 .
- Colin Larkin (ed.) (1992) The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 1st ed., p. 2698, ISBN 1-882267-04-4 .
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paul Williams.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Paul Williams (songwriter)|
- paulwilliamsofficial.com — Paul Williams Official Website
- gratitudeandtrust.com — Paul Williams Blog on Recovery
- paulwilliamsstillalive.com – Paul Williams Still Alive – Paul Williams documentary
- paulwilliams.co.uk – Paul Williams' Music & Acting Page
- Paul Williams at IMDb
- Paul Williams at the TCM Movie Database
- Paul Williams discography at Discogs
- Jim Bennett's interview with Paul Williams
- Songfacts Interview
- Songwriters Hall of Fame Biography
- Interview with Paul Williams NAMM Oral History Library, June 12, 2013.