Songwriter Paul Williams lost a decade to alcoholism
Singer and songwriter Paul Williams says he « lost » the 80s due to his alcoholism at the time.
« I drank, I used, like most people do for about seven minutes, and then by the time I got sober, I had lost a decade, » he exclusively told Page. Six at the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s annual induction and awards gala on Thursday night. .
« The 80s were over for me, » added the 81-year-old. « I was incredibly productive and lucky and lucky, lucky, lucky in the 70s. In the 80s, I stayed home and alphabetized my canned goods.
Williams – who received the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the gala – was certainly “incredibly productive” in the 70s, co-writing “Evergreen”, from “A Star is Born” with Barbra Streisand in 1991 (collecting an Emmy and Grammy in the process), and co-wrote « Rainbow Connection », sung by Kermit the Frog, in 1979.
Other songwriting credits include « We’ve Only Just Begun » by The Carpenter, « An Old Fashioned Love Song » by Three Dog Night, and theme lyrics for « The Love Boat ».
He was also a mainstay on screen, appearing in all three « Smokey and the Bandit » films and making guest appearances on shows like « The Odd Couple » and « Fantasy Island. » The composer was also a regular guest on « The Tonight Show ».
It wasn’t until the age of 49 that Williams recognized his illness.
« I turned to people and asked for help, » he shared. « I said, ‘I’m lost and I need help,’ and the recovery community came out of nowhere to help me and I loved it. I didn’t just chase music after that i went to UCLA and got certified as a drug and alcohol counselor i found my tribe and what happened is i started writing songs again .
Most recently, the Grammy winner penned two songs for Daft Punk’s 2013 album, « Random Access Memories. »
Williams coyly added that he never really had a « moment of clarity » regarding his alcoholism.
“During a blackout, I called a doctor and told him I wanted to get sober,” he explained. “The week before I had been to Oklahoma for a concert and had a complete psychotic breakdown because I was so loaded.
« I found out 10 years later that the guy who had been promoting the concert was long sober and he set up a prayer circle to pray for me to find relief from my addiction. A week later, during a blackout, I called a doctor.