I have just learned that my old friend, the music writer Paul Williams, died on March 27. In 1966, Paul launched Crawdaddy, the first magazine in the world to take rock criticism seriously. In other words he devised the career that in 1970 I chose to follow and have more or less stuck with ever since. He was a gentle, humble soul whose unassuming demeanour belied his immense knowledge and experience, but he never really recovered from the awful cycling accident he had in 1995 which brought on premature dementia.
Back in the 1980s Paul and I met regularly at the Frankfurt Book Fair and through Omnibus I published several of his books, including his fabulous Dylan ‘Performing Artist’ trilogy as well as books on Neil Young and the Beach Boys. One time, I forget when, he came to London to help promote his books and gave a talk on Dylan at the Helter Skelter book shop on Denmark Street. While I was stood at the back what looked like a homeless person ambled in and asked me what the gathering was for.
“A lecture on Bob Dylan,” I replied.
“Is that Bob Dylan?” he asked, pointing to Paul.
“No,” I said. “But he’s one of the world’s best known Dylan experts.”
“Bugger off,” he said, and left.
After his talk I told Paul about this encounter and he laughed his head off.
RIP Paul. You invented my life.