Kim Williams, a 2012 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, died Thursday (Feb. 11). He was 68.
His most notable writing credits include Garth Brooks’ “Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up,” Kenny Chesney’s “Fall in Love,” and Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses.”
Williams was born in Kingsport, Tennessee on June 28, 1947.
A near-fatal accident in 1974 proved to be Williams’ gateway to songwriting. An electrical fire at a glass plant left Williams severely burned. Williams also overcame alcoholism, pain-pill addiction, and narcolepsy. After the accident, Williams underwent several reconstructive treatments, including many at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. Being in Music City revived Williams’ interest in songwriting.
Williams began improving as a songwriter, and by 1989, he had signed a staff writer deal with Tree International. In 1991, his first No. 1 hit came with “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” recorded by Joe Diffie. By this time, Williams had also solidified a working relationship with a newcomer on the country music scene by the name of Garth Brooks.
Several of Williams’ songs became some of Brooks’ signature hits, including “Ain’t Goin’ Down Till The Sun Comes Up,” “Papa Loved Mama,” “It’s Midnight Cinderella,” and “She’s Gonna Make It.” Williams wrote “Fall in Love” with Chesney and Buddy Brock. The single became Chesney’s first Top 10 hit at country radio in 1995.
Other artists to record Williams’s songs include Keith Anderson (“Pickin’ Wildflowers”), Brooks & Dunn (“Honky Tonk Truth”), George Jones (“Beer Run,” with Brooks), David Kersh (“Goodnight Sweetheart”), Reba McEntire (“The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”), Rascal Flatts (“While You Loved Me”), George Strait (“Overnight Male” from Pure Country), Doug Supernaw (“Not Enough Hours in the Night”), Aaron Tippin (“My Blue Angel”) and Clay Walker (“Who Needs You Baby”).
In 1994, he was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year.
In 2003, Williams earned another smash hit with Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses,” which earned accolades from the CMA, ACM, NSAI, and Gospel Music Association (GMA), and served as a comeback for the singer.
Funeral details have not been announced.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman Pat Alger released this statement regarding Williams’ passing: “Yesterday the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame lost one of its finest members. Kim Williams overcame more adversity than anyone I know to become one of the best and most colorful songwriters to ever come out of this town. Horribly burned in a work related fire (before his songwriting career) he endured hundreds of operations and complications to emerge as a man of boundless humor and dignity with a tremendous capacity for love. Kim loved his family, his profession and his friends and was always there to remind us that we can rise above it all to make sweet music. He was my hero and I will miss him so much. I had the pleasure of telling him that he had been inducted into the Hall of Fame and his joy and genuine humility was something I will never forget. Our hearts go out to Phyllis and Amanda Williams – he loved you most of all.”
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