Paul Williams Biography

Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Award Winner

Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Author and Recovery Advocate Paul Williams is one of the most beloved and respected music creators in the world today. A lyricist and composer who has won an Oscar Award, three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and earned induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, his songs, from “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “You and Me Against the World” to “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” “Let Me Be the One” and “The Rainbow Connection,” have touched millions of people for generations. As President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), he is also a leading spokesman for music creators in the digital age. In 2015, Paul was honored with an Ivor Novello – PRS for Music Special International Award.

Williams’ standards have been recorded by such diverse musical icons as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Tony Bennett, The Carpenters, Luther Vandross, Willie Nelson, REM, Anne Murray, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Diana Krall, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah McLachlan, Jason Mraz, The Dixie Chicks, Gonzo and Kermit The Frog.

Although Williams is widely known as an actor in dozens of films and on television, it is his musical legacy that continues to inspire. His songs and scores have received six Oscar, nine Grammy, six Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations. “The Rainbow Connection,” from the children’s classic The Muppet Movie, is one of two of Williams’ songs that grace the American Film Institute’s List of Top Movie Songs of All Time; the second, “Evergreen,” is from the award winning Barbra Streisand/ Kris Kristofferson remake of A Star Is Born. Additional song scores include the cult favorites Phantom of the Paradise and Ishtar, as well as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bugsy Malone, and Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, the latter of which has now been adapted for the stage. His recent work has remained wonderfully diverse, from creating the story and writing the songs for Disney’s Emmy-nominated A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa and penning the music and lyrics for Garry Marshall’s theatrical sensation Happy Days, to writing with the Scissor Sisters and Daft Punk. Williams is currently working with Gustavo Santaolalla on songs for The Book of Life before moving onto Guillermo del Toro’s stage musical adaptation of Pan’s Labyrinth.

He has released twenty-four albums and provided songs and scores for dozens of films. The hit songs he wrote dominated the charts and became staples, including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” The Carpen­ters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” Oscar winning “Evergreen,” from the Barbra Streisand version of A Star is Born and the iconic “Rainbow Connection,” performed by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie.

His career, life, and work in recovery have been chronicled in the acclaimed documentary, Paul Williams Still Alive, for which Paul wrote the critically acclaimed title track.

Sober twenty-five years, his humorous observations of life, love, and creativity, augmented by the education and knowledge he gained through his studies and certification from UCLA as a Certified Drug Rehabilitation Counselor, is shared in his book: Gratitude and Trust: Recovery is Not Just for Addicts co-written with Tracey Jackson. Recovery being his number one passion he considers writing this book the greatest opportunity of his lifetime to carry the message to the masses that recovery works for all. Tracey and Paul are also hosting the Gratitude and Trust Podcast.

Since being elected ASCAP President and Chairman of the 450,000 + member organization, Williams has been a tireless advocate for defending copyright both at home and on the world stage. He has frequently lead delegations of some of today’s leading songwriters and composers to Washington, DC to visit with policymakers, discuss music creator rights and perform at the U.S. Library of Congress. He is a much sought-after speaker at conferences around the world for his vision, humor, knowledge of the issues and strong communication skills, as well as his gift for fostering common ground among diverse constituencies. As such, he is called upon often to testify before the U.S. Congress on vital Intellectual Property matters.

Williams was also elected President of The ASCAP Foundation in 2009. He helps lead the public charity’s work in supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs, including songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, community outreach and humanitarian programs for songwriters, composers and lyricists.

While publicly lauded for his work as a songwriter, performer, actor, leader and humanitarian, Paul predicts he’ll be remembered for playing Little Enos in the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy and for his lyrics to “The Love Boat theme, although it is the lyrics from Bugsy Malone that aptly sum up his philosophy: “You give a little love and it all comes back to you; You’re gonna’ be remembered for the things that you say and do”. As a devoted husband to writer Mariana Williams and proud father, Paul considers his son Cole, and daughter Sarah, to be his best work.

Career Highlights

  • 2015 Ivor Novello – PRS for Music Special International Award
  • 2013 Grammy Award for Album of the Year: RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES (with Daft Punk)
  • 2012 Satellite Auteur Award presented by the International Press Academy
  • 2012 Satellite Award Nomination for Song of the Year: STILL ALIVE
  • 2012 Critics Choice nomination for Song of the Year: STILL ALIVE
  • 2009 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (original songs by Paul Williams who also co-wrote the story and teleplay): A MUPPETS CHRISTMAS, LETTERS TO SANTA
  • 2004 National Music Publishers President’s Award
  • 2001 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1993 Grammy Nomination for Best Musical Album for Children: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
  • 1988 ASCAP Award for Most Performed Feature Film Standards: EVERGREEN from STAR IS BORN, A
  • 1981 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children's Programming: WHEN THE RIVER MEETS THE SEA from EMMET OTTER’S JUG BAND CHRISTMAS
  • 1980 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Song in a Film: RAINBOW CONNECTION from MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1980 Saturn Award Nomination for Best Music: THE MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1979 Grammy Award for Best Recording For Children: THE MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1979 Grammy Nomination for Best Album of Original Score Written for a film: THE MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1979 Oscar Nomination for Original Song Score: THE MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1979 Oscar Nomination for Original Song: RAINBOW CONNECTION from THE MUPPET MOVIE
  • 1978 Anthony Asquith Nomination for Best film Music: BUGSY MALONE
  • 1978 Oscar Nomination for Original Song Score: BUGSY MALONE
  • 1978 Anthony Asquith Nomination for Best film Music: A STAR IS BORN
  • 1977 Grammy Nomination for Best Album of Original Score Written for a film: A STAR IS BORN
  • 1977 Grammy Award for Song of the Year: EVERGREEN from A STAR IS BORN
  • 1977 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in a Film: EVERGREEN from A STAR IS BORN
  • 1977 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score in a Film: A STAR IS BORN
  • 1977 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score in a Film: BUGSY MALONE
  • 1977 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Song: BUGSY MALONE
  • 1976 Oscar Nomination/Academy Award for Original Song: EVERGREEN from A STAR IS BORN
  • 1976 Oscar Nomination for Original Song Score: BUGSY MALONE
  • 1975 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score in a Film: PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
  • 1974 Oscar Nomination for Original Song Score: PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
  • 1974 Grammy Nomination for Song of the Year: YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD
  • 1973 Oscar Nomination for the Song: NICE TO BE AROUND
  • 1973 Grammy Nomination for Song of the Year & Best Contemporary Song: WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN