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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.

115 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

    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,

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

      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.

    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.

        October 31, 2019
  8. Frank Boyd #


    Good to meet you last night.

    I mentioned the documentary series about Wayfaring Stranger. You can find it here:

    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..

    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
  12. Richard,
    Would you be interested in continuing to a book I am currently researchin on the Musicians’ Cooperative?
    I have just published a book on the London Musicians’ Collective, and have previously written about the First and Seconomic Generation of British free improvisers.

    January 26, 2021
  13. Thomas P Vishia #

    Hi Richard,

    I’ve told you this before but your “Death of Ayrton Senna” book was spectacular! Written in a way to give anyone goosebumps at various times. Insights I have never read anywhere else and I’ve bought this book many times for friends and family.

    The description of Donnington 1993 is the best I’ve ever read anywhere…..I could see him going round and round alone! Awesome!

    Where would I find your articles on Chet Baker and Boz Scaggs? Love them both!…..and you!



    January 26, 2021
  14. David Chilver #

    Hello Richard- and thanks again for so many wonderful and thoughtful posts over the past difficult year. You and I are both lovers of the song Goodbye. You have mentioned some of your favourite renditions in various posts… One delightful version which I have only just discovered is by Stan Getz and the Boston Pops with John Williams. On the off-chance that it’s not known to you, here it is. Best wishes as ever

    February 3, 2021
    • David Chilver #

      Hello Richard
      Here is another unusual (but rather lovely) rendition of Goodbye to add to the list! I just came across it, but you may already know it.
      Best, David

      May 11, 2021
  15. John Ainsworth #

    Hello, Richard, I’ve just realised that it’s pretty much the fiftieth anniversary of my first ever buying a record based on a journalist’s review. The record was In A Silent Way by Miles Davis, the reviewer was you.
    Fifty years later, you alerted me to the reissued Band album Stagefright, along with the live Royal Albert Hall gig. That arrived a few days ago, and again, ta. Not sold a pup again. Nor many other Duff Mutts along the road either. I think it was in your review of Cahoots, when it came out, that you put The Band’s first four studio albums in order of preference..These days, I’m a Two – Three – One – Four kinda guy, but correct me if I’m wrong, weren’t you advocating Two – Four – One – Three man? Anyway…
    Anyway, thanks for some great introductions and resulting journeys to see off beam stuff – The Necks stands out. Other than being on the wrong side of the Scott Walker Culture Canyon, I have had huge respect for your views over the decades, from schoolboy to pensioner. Long may it continue.

    February 23, 2021
  16. Came across your piece about Laura Nyro from years ago. There are more YouTube vids of her music & some live film. Great because I can’t find most of my albums yet.
    However, I do have some EYE magazines from 1968-69. One has article about her that I scanned & put on flickr. Hope you like it.

    Thanks for your words
    Dave Ferro

    May 28, 2021
  17. Maurizio Comandini #

    Hi Richard, it is off topic, i know, but i would love to read your thoughts about european football cup and in particolare about the final match. Have you covered the tournment and the Wembley final ?

    July 17, 2021
    • Thomas P Vishia #

      You never mention your AWESOME book that you wrote on Ayrton Senna….the most well written and insightful book on anything that I have ever read and I read a ton!

      Must be nice to be that prolific that you can overlook that one….if I had the skills to wrote something like that in the way you told that story I would shout from the rooftops for the rest of my life LOL!


      July 17, 2021
  18. Robert McIntosh #

    Thank you for your Laura Nyro piece in The Guardian. Erudite as ever and much appreciated.

    July 27, 2021
  19. Daniel Silverstone #

    Hi Richard
    I’m writing to say that I really enjoy the blue moment
    Am just reading The Blue Moment
    One of the best if not the best books I’ve read on jazz- beautifully written , and it covers all the bases
    many thanks
    Daniel Silverstone

    August 9, 2021
  20. John greenland #

    Have fine album by Barney Wilen from 90s great on baritone sax also. I’m John Greenland. friend of Charlie Gillett from 1963 !

    September 23, 2021
  21. Franco Bertolani #

    Hi Richard, I’m writing from Italy.
    I’ve read your pieces on music since the beginning of the seventies on Melody Maker and I’ve been following you ever since. You made me discover lots of great music and I owe you so much for that.
    I enjoyed very much all of your books and specially Long Distance Call. Don’t you think it’s time to put out a second volume of collected writings? I remember great articles on Melody Maker which got lost.
    Thank you again for everything

    December 17, 2021
    • Dear Franco — Molte grazie per le tue parole gentili e generose. They mean a lot. A second volume of Long Distance Call is a very nice idea, but I don’t think it would have much appeal to a publisher. But you never know. All best, Richard.

      December 17, 2021
  22. Les Shaw #

    Hello Richard, I’d just like to say how much I enjoy your writing. We first met about 50 years ago in Nottingham. You were at the Nottingham Evening Post and me a young jazz drummer (now and old one ! ). I hope you are keeping very well.
    Fond regards,

    May 11, 2022
  23. Hugh Reed #

    Hi Richard sorry I couldn’t find a direct email for you but I thought I’d send you my Scottish version of Dylans unfinished song ‘She’s your lover now’ since the great man is playing two nights in Glasgow just now

    October 31, 2022

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