Growing up in his own words, “he had a bizarre childhood,” Jack Williams enlisted in the Marines, wanting to impress his dad, and became a member of Force Recon. Just before going to Vietnam, knowing he probably wouldn’t return if he did, his commanding officer called him into his office and informed him that due to a paperwork snafu, he wound up getting orders to ship out to Hawaii, where he wound up playing in a band while stationed there. While there, he began writing songs and decided that although he wasn’t sure about the songwriting aspect of things, he wanted to play music, which he wanted to do for a living.
Upon a chance meeting backstage with Peter Gabriel at a Genesis concert, Jack understood what it took to write a song. He became a Sous Chef at a restaurant in Atlanta, and one day while heading to work, he passed a hotel where the rock band “The Who” was staying. Taking a chance, he pulled over, got out of the car, and asked if he could pitch a song to Roger Daltry. Although he didn’t get to meet Daltry at that time, he wound up being a part of the tour as a Roadie and spent the next 5 months on the road with the band before he finally had an opportunity to meet Roger and Pete Townsend.
Upon finishing his time with the members of The Who, he once again was allowed to meet another Woodstock legend by being “invited” to meet with Richie Havens after knocking on his hotel room all night. Moving to New York, Richie helped get Jack into the doors of such record label industry leaders, including Clive Davis and Ahmet Ertegun. A single songwriting deal with Clive Davis led him to performances, and kudos from the likes Dave Mason, Ronnie Van Zandt from Lynyrd Skynyrd, and members of heavy metal band Uriah Heep who Jack went on to write with (and the only outside songwriter ever to get a song recorded on a Uriah Heep album). He spent time with the likes of Jimmy Page, Alvin Lee, Jethro Tull while in England and honed his songwriting skills. Coming back to the states, he originally was going to connect with the guys from Skynyrd, but due to the unfortunate plane crash that took their lives, that didn’t happen. He was, however, able to get to work with Greg Allman and Dickie Betts from Allman Brothers fame, with Dickie producing Jack’s next project.
And then there’s his time with actor and singer Kevin Costner. Jack shares his thoughts on what it’s like to work with this Hollywood legend and find just the right song for radio.
He’s now in the studio working on his solo project. When asked how that was going, he stated that “I reached in and found all the truth I could find.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a life, a career, or a body of work quite like that of singer/songwriter/composer H. Jack Williams.
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The music provided for this episode is from:
Artist: Jack Williams
Single: Got Me Down
Composer: H. Jack William
Artist: Jack Williams
Single: Running On
Composer: H. Jack Williams
Artist: Jack Williams
Single: What A Wonderful World
Composer: Bob Thiele, George David Weiss