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About the author

Richard WilliamsSince the late 1960s I’ve written about music for the Melody Maker, the (London) Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Guardian, Down Beat, Jazz Journal, Mojo, the TLS, Granta, Uncut and other publications. A list of the people I’ve most enjoyed interviewing during that time would include Marvin Gaye, Laura Nyro, Booker T. Jones, Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, Charles Mingus, Brian and Dennis Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Terry Riley, Max Roach, Mable John, Ornette Coleman, Steve Cropper, Chet Baker, Isaac Hayes, Mac Rebennack, Phil Spector, Ry Cooder, Gladys Knight, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Ellie Greenwich, John Lennon, Allen Toussaint, Elvin Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Stan Getz, Boz Scaggs, Nico and Martha Reeves. My books on music include Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector (1972), Bob Dylan: A Man Called Alias (1990), Long Distance Call: Writings on Music (2000) and The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music (2009). Served a very happy three-year term as artistic director of the Berlin jazz festival from 2015-2017.

98 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hello Richard…I’ve just heard that Neil Brockbank has passed away. Very sad indeed. Must be sudden, I guess. A great producer and sound man and no doubt this will hit Nick Lowe particularly hard. Goldtop Studios made some lovely sounds. Here’s a podcast from The Word where he featured…fascinating
    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/word-podcast/id137323360?mt=2&i=1000372200647
    Luv

    June 1, 2017
  2. Graham Morris #

    Hi Richard

    I wondered if you have any memories of Geri Allen to share?

    By the way, I really enjoy reading everyone of your pieces. Thank you.

    July 6, 2017
    • Thanks, Graham, but I’m afraid I don’t. Wish I had. Others, however, have said wonderful things.

      July 6, 2017
      • Colin Bailey #

        Just play the wonderful album Segments recorded in 1989 with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

        July 6, 2017
  3. Paul Rambali #

    Hi Richard,
    I won’t say I’m sorry to hear you got a book deal, but … like many others, I’m going to miss your blog. Such erudition, worn so lightly! Your colorful, concise posts were like rare stamps pasted in a cherished album. And so unashamedly esoteric: your line about what it must be like living a life dedicated to free improvisation had me musing for days.
    All the Best,
    Paul

    September 10, 2018
    • Dear Paul
      Thanks for the kind words. All well with you, I hope?
      Best, as ever
      Richard

      September 10, 2018
  4. Sedat Nemli #

    Hello Richard,

    As far as I know, none of the major mewspapers (The Guardian, New York Times) mentioned the passing of Max Bennett back in September. Might you consider an obituary for this remarkable musician? Thank you and best wishes.

    November 20, 2018
  5. Barry Coppinger #

    hi Richard, I’ve enjoyed your writings, and followed your progress, since Melody Maker onwards and share your tastes in many respects. Was delighted to see Todd Rundgren is coming to London in April and have bagged tickets for myself and son Danny, Are you a fan, and have you a view? Regards. Barry (Middlsbrough)

    December 24, 2018
    • Barry — That’s a difficult one. I love some of his songs, particularly “Hello It’s Me” and the one that begins “Leroy, boy, is that you?” and I respect his fondness for harmony soul groups (Impressions, Delfonics), but I haven’t really paid enough attention to him over the decades to form a worthwhile opinion. Never seen him live, either. My loss, I’m sure. I should rectify it. Best, Richard.

      December 24, 2018
  6. Patrick Cleasby #

    Richard, if you liked David Mrakpor, make sure you listen to The Banger Factory album. (Confession – it’s my son on the drums)

    October 8, 2019
  7. J Taylor #

    Hi Richard, a bit of an odd request from your days as A&R at Island Records. I’m trying to source a poster from a Vinegar Joe concert back in the 1970s. It’s my father’s 70th this year and he was the frontman for a band, Wonder Warthog, who supported Elkie, Robert Palmer & all in Milton Keynes, UK in the 70s. We are trying to source some memorabilia from the show as a gift for him and wondered if you know of anyone from that time we can contact who may still have a poster, photo, etc.?

    Thank you for your time in advance and apologies for the odd request in this manner.
    Regards,
    J

    October 31, 2019
    • Sorry — haven’t a clue. At a recent Island get-together some of us were lamenting the fact that nothing was archived in those days. Good luck, anyway.

      October 31, 2019
      • J Taylor #

        Thanks so much for your reply, seems to be a common consensus about the archiving. Maybe it will turn up in a bread bin somewhere like Dad’s Army! Thanks again for getting back and I’ve just been going through this blog and really enjoying all the recent posts so look forward to discovering more going forward.
        Regards,
        J

        October 31, 2019
  8. Frank Boyd #

    Richard,

    Good to meet you last night.

    I mentioned the documentary series about Wayfaring Stranger. You can find it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08lnkqn

    Worth watching for RG’s performance alone.

    Celtic hymns be with you.

    November 22, 2019
  9. Mark Kidel #

    Would you be up for your excellent Dylan piece being posted on The Arts Desk, which I write for. The music coordinator would love it. I am afroad none of us are paid (we are mad but love writing) I had thought I could write about the trck, but there is no way I could come anywhere near the quality that you have brought to it.

    March 27, 2020
  10. peter jones #

    Good morning. Just thought I’d share a quirky lockdown initiative with you – Jay Leonhart’s regular live streams from his Upper West Side apartment. Leonhart’s 80 now, and boasts an impressive cv as one of New York’s go-to bass player, having supported Mel Torme and Sarah Vaughan inter alia. He play, he sings, he uses youtube to discuss historic performances. It goes out live on Facebook, and there’s plenty of interaction with a bunch of regular viewers. This one focuses on “Perdido”, it covers Paul Gonsalves’s unfortunate tendency to nod off on the bandstand, and it features a duet performance with Leonhart’s daughter Carolyn, who will be familiar to many as one of Steely Dan’s back up singers. And there’s some lovely Gerry Mulligan in there too. It’s all rather charming.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uf-jsiXFag

    July 31, 2020
  11. Crystal Davies #

    Thanks for the piece on Mr. CURTIS MAYFIELD. Wish I could receive a printed copy.
    I wish you could’ve interviewed me. You see I was there and an employee at Kings County Hospital, where he was taken afterwards. Monday night had been designated a community event. I was part of that. The sponsor who put it together was a senator and community leader. I was outside before the program began and noticed the bad weather approaching. Standing near the senator, watching them installing the lights on the stage, I suggested to him that it might be a good idea to cancel the show. He said, it’ll be alright. As the wind picked up equipment began to swing violently. Because of the wind and the rain I sought shelter in my office at KCHC. Then it happened. I was the manager of telecommunications so I was one of the first people to hear about the accident. I ran to the ER to be sure it was true. Right there I started to sob. In the hallway I saw the senator. We made eye contact, then he turned and walked away. His stare indicated that he wished he had heeded my warning. Here I am 69 years old and can remember the incident like it was yesterday. May not remember names, but I don’t forget events. Call me or text me if you care.

    September 12, 2020

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