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 ».

Paul Williams and Kermit the Frog.
Williams co-wrote « The Rainbow Connection » for « The Muppet Movie. »
The puppet 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 .

Actress/singer Barbra Streisand and songwriter Paul Williams attend the 34th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 29, 1977 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Williams and Barbra Streisand won an Oscar for writing « Evergreen. »
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

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.

Pictured: (lr) singer Steve Lawrence and songwriter Paul Williams during an interview with host Johnny Carson on July 22, 1977.
Williams was a regular guest on « The Tonight Show. »
NBCU/NBCUniversal Photo Bank via

“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.


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