Paul Williams (journalist)

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Paul Williams
Williams, 1971
Williams, 1971
BornPaul S. Williams
(1948-05-19)May 19, 1948
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMarch 27, 2013(2013-03-27) (aged 64)
California, U.S.
OccupationMusic journalist, author
SubjectRock music
(m. 1970; div. 1980)

Donna Nassar
(m. 1980; div. 1990)

(m. 1992⁠–⁠2013)

Paul S. Williams (May 19, 1948 – March 27, 2013) was an American music journalist and writer who created Crawdaddy!, the first national US magazine of rock music criticism, in January 1966. He was a leading authority on the works of musicians Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Neil Young, and science fiction writers Philip K. Dick (serving as the executor of his literary estate) and Theodore Sturgeon.


While briefly enrolled at Swarthmore College, Williams created Crawdaddy!, the first national US magazine of rock music criticism, in January 1966 with the help of some of his fellow science fiction fans (he had previously produced science fiction fanzines).[1][2][3] His aim was to reflect the sophistication brought to pop music by two albums released in 1965: Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home and the Beatles' Rubber Soul.[4] The first issue was ten mimeographed pages written entirely by Williams.[2][5] In that issue, he declared that Crawdaddy! would include "neither pin-ups nor news-briefs" and that "the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing about pop ..."[4] He left the magazine in 1968 and reclaimed the title in 1993, but had to end it in 2003 due to financial difficulties.

Williams was the author of more than 25 books, of which the best-known are Outlaw Blues, Das Energi, and Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, the acclaimed three-part series. Williams was a leading authority on the works of musicians Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Neil Young, and science fiction writers Philip K. Dick (serving as the executor of his literary estate)[6] and Theodore Sturgeon. His final published books were The 20th Century's Greatest Hits (a "Top 40" list that includes movies, books & other documents)(2000)[7] and the last volume of his critical look at the music of Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan: Mind Out of Time (Performing Artist Vol. 3, 1987-2000) (2004).

In 1981 he edited and published, with David G. Hartwell, the first book edition of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with the book entitled The International Bill of Human Rights), with a foreword by Jimmy Carter. Williams also made significant contributions to David G. Hartwell's book length analysis of science fiction, Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction (Walker & Co., 1985; ISBN 0-8027-0808-0), and Hartwell mentions Paul Williams prominently in the book's acknowledgements.[8]

Association with Philip K. Dick[edit]

In the spring of 1967 Williams was introduced to the fiction of Philip K. Dick by Trina Robbins, Bhob Stewart and Art Spiegelman.[9] He introduced himself to Dick in August 1968 at the 26th World Science Fiction Convention in Berkeley, California, beginning a friendship that lasted through the rest of Dick's life.[9]

In 1974, Williams began working on a profile of Dick for Rolling Stone. "The True Stories of Philip K. Dick", which appeared in the November 6, 1975 issue of the magazine, covered a variety of subjects, including many theories about the 1971 break-in of Dick's home in San Rafael, California, a 1972 suicide attempt in British Columbia, his subsequent move to Orange County, California, the politics of the era, and the relationship of Dick's drug use (including his amphetamine addiction and infrequent LSD experimentation) to his writing career.[10]

Williams was Dick's literary executor for several years after Dick's death and used that position to get several of the author's previously unpublished neorealist novels into print.

From 1983 to 1992, Williams ran the Philip K. Dick Society along with Andy Watson and Keith Bowden in the UK. PKDS had some thousands of members internationally and was a significant influence in publicising Dick's work internationally. It published 30 quarterly newsletters, some of which included previously unpublished Dick material.

In 1986, Williams published Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick, one of the first biographies of Dick.

Williams is a featured interviewee in three documentaries about Dick: a biographical documentary BBC2 released in 1994 as part of its Arena arts series called Philip K Dick: A Day in the Afterlife,[11] The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick, which was produced in 2001, and The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick, another biographical documentary film produced in 2007.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In early 1968, he was dating Trina Robbins.[13]

An acquaintance of Mel Lyman, Williams lived and worked at Lyman's intentional community at Fort Hill, Boston for a few weeks in 1971, before he was dosed with LSD, locked in a closet, and had his eye-glasses taken away. Paul broke out and hitchhiked back to Boston, hiding out for weeks at his mother's house, for fear of them coming after him. Paul told his wife Cindy Lee Berryhill, "what good feelings I'd had for Lyman utterly changed at that point". According to Rolling Stone's David Felton, Williams told him he departed at night, as he felt he was being observed and would not be allowed to leave.[14] According to his official website, he also lived in a wilderness commune at Galley Bay in British Columbia.

In 1972, Williams married Sachiko Kanenobu, a Japanese singer-songwriter; they raised two children.[15]

In the 1980s, he was married to Donna Nassar[16] who provided many illustrations for Crawdaddy!'s second incarnation.

In 1992, Williams began a relationship with anti-folk co-founder and singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill, who became his widow.

In 2009, Williams lived in Encinitas, California with Berryhill and their 8 year old son, Alexander Berryhill-Williams, part of that year but eventually had to enter a nursing home due to dementia.[17] He was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy dementia, the early onset of which was attributed to a brain injury Williams sustained in a 1995 bicycle accident.[18][19] The medical bills were enormous, and the family asked for donations toward his continued medical care.[19] On December 14, 2009, Paul Williams was accepted for Medi-Cal (Medicaid) coverage.[20]


Williams died on March 27, 2013, at his home in California at age 64 from complications related to a 1995 bicycle accident.[6] Williams, according to a note on his official website, "suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, leading to early onset of dementia, and a steady decline to the point where he now requires full-time care. The burden on his immediate family has been immense."[21]


  • Outlaw Blues: A Book of Rock Music (1969)
  • Time Between (1972)
  • Das Energi (1973)
  • Pushing Upward (1973)
  • Apple Bay (1976)
  • Coming (1977)
  • Right To Pass (1977)
  • Heart of Gold (written 1978, published 1991)
  • Bob Dylan: What Happened? (1979)
  • Fox and Hare: the story of a Friday evening. Entwhistle Books, Glen Ellen, California. Written by Chester Anderson; "Introduction: the Making of Fox & Hare" by Paul Williams, publisher; illustrations by Charles Stevenson. (1980)
  • The Book of Houses (1980)
  • Common Sense (1982)
  • Waking Up Together (1984)
  • Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick, Arbor House, New York, ISBN 0-87795-800-9) (1986) [22]
  • Remember Your Essence (1987)
  • The Map or Rediscovering Rock and Roll (a journey) (1988)
  • Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles (1993)
  • Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 1. (1990)
  • Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years (1992)
  • Energi Inscriptions (1995)
  • Bob Dylan: Watching The River Flow (1996)
  • Neil Young: Love To Burn London, New York, Paris, Sydney: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-934558-19-1 (1997)
  • Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys – How Deep Is The Ocean? (1997)
  • The Twentieth Century’s Greatest Hits (2000)
  • Bob Dylan: Mind Out of Time (Performing Artist Vol. 3, 1987-2000) (2004)

Books as editor[edit]


  1. ^ Dylan Gives the People What He Wants by Bill Wyman, The New York Times, June 12, 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Crawdaddy - Paste Features".
  3. ^ All Yesterdays Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971 by Clinton Heylin, p. xvii.
  4. ^ a b Hoskyns, Barney (April 2013). "Music Journalism at 50". Rock's Backpages. Archived from the original on 28 June 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Crawdaddy".
  6. ^ a b "Paul Williams: The first rock critic, and one of the best".
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-09-06. Retrieved 2005-09-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link))
  8. ^ Hartwell, David G. (24 January 2017). Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction. ISBN 9780765393319.
  9. ^ a b Williams, Paul, (1986), Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick New York: Arbor House Publishing Company, pp. 14-15, ISBN 0-87795-800-9
  10. ^ "The True Stories of Philip K. Dick", Paul Williams, Rolling Stone, November 6, 1975
  11. ^ ""Arena" Philip K Dick: A Day in the Afterlife (TV Episode 1994) - IMDb" – via
  12. ^ "The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick" – via IMDb.
  13. ^ "Joni Mitchell Library - Trina talks about the song Ladies of the Canyon:, April 19, 2008".
  14. ^ "I said I was leaving the day before and they said I wouldn't be allowed to. They said they'd be watching me 24 hours a day. So I was super paranoid, super cautious. But that doesn't bother me. I mean, they owed it to me, in a sense, to keep me on the hill. If I grow enough, someday I may come back. I care about Mel Lyman more than anyone outside of myself; someday I may be able to care about him more than me. The people who can, have something really beautiful going." Paul Williams, quoted by David Felton, in "The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America" (originally appeared in Rolling Stone, Dec. 23, 1971, pp. 40-60).
  15. ^ Sachiko Kanenobu on
  16. ^ Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, The Middle Years by Paul Williams.
  17. ^ "Beloved Stranger".
  18. ^ David Fricke, "Rockers Reach Out to Pioneering Music Critic: Struck by Alzheimer's, 'Crawdaddy!' founder Paul Williams solicits help", Rolling Stone, April 20, 2009, p. 26.
  19. ^ a b "Paul Williams :: Website and Support Fund".
  20. ^ Beloved Stranger see December 16, 2009
  21. ^ "Crawdaddy magazine founder Paul Williams dead at 64". LA Times. 28 March 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  22. ^ "Title: Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick".

External links[edit]