Songwriter Paul Williams lost ten years to alcoholism

Singer and songwriter Paul Williams says he was “misguided” in the ’80s because of his alcoholism at the time.

“I drank, I used, like most people do, about seven minutes, and by the time I got sober I’d misplaced a decade,” he told Vidak For Congress exclusively at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala. on Thursday evening. †

“The ’80s were gone for me,” the 81-year-old added. “I was incredibly productive and happy and lucky, lucky, lucky in the ’70s. In the 1980s, I stayed at home and alphabetized my canned goods.”

Williams — who was honored with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the gala — was certainly “incredibly prolific” in the 1970s, co-writing “Evergreen” of “A Star is Born” (picking up an Emmy in 1991) with Barbra Streisand. and Grammy in the process), and co-wrote “Rainbow Connection,” which was sung by Kermit the Frog in 1979.

Other songwriting credits include The Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun”, Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song” and the lyrics to the theme “The Love Boat”.

He was also an on-screen mainstay, appearing in all three “Smokey and the Bandit” movies 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 muppet show

It wasn’t until Williams was 49 that he acknowledged his illness.

“I turned to people and asked for help,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m lost and I need help,’ and the recovery community came out to help me and I loved it. I didn’t get into music right away, I went to UCLA and got my certificate as a drug and alcohol counselor, I found my tribe and what happened is I eventually started writing songs again.”

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

More recently, the Grammy winner wrote two songs for Daft Punk’s 2013 album “Random Access Memories.”

Williams sheepishly added that he never really had a “moment of clarity” about his alcoholism.

Pictured: (lr) Vocalist Steve Lawrence and composer Paul Williams during an interview with host Johnny Carson on July 22, 1977.
Williams was a regular on ‘The Tonight Show’.
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

“In a blackout, I called a doctor and said I wanted to get sober,” he explained. “The week before I had been in Oklahoma to perform and I had a psychotic breakdown because I was so charged.

“I found out 10 years later that the man promoting the performance had been sober for a long time and he put together a prayer circle to pray that I would find relief from my addiction. A week later during a blackout, I called a doctor.”

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