Grammy-winning songwriter Kenneth “Ken” Williams, who penned hundreds of songs for legendary artists and the 1970s hit “Everybody Plays The Fool,” has died at age 83.
Williams’ death was confirmed by his wife, Broadway actress and singer Mary Seymour Williams, the Associated Press reported. He reportedly died June 17 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, following a long battle with an illness unrelated to COVID-19.
The iconic composer co-wrote the R&B song “Everybody Plays The Fool” along with Rudy Clark and J.R. Bailey in 1972 for the group Main Ingredient. Cuba Gooding Sr., the father of actor Cuba Gooding Jr., provided lead vocals on the track, becoming the group’s most well-known single. The song peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts.
Williams started producing hits after he founded A Dish-A-Tunes LLC Publishing in 1968. Under his production company, the musician added over 500 songs to his music catalog.
The songwriting genius also earned a Grammy in 2004 for the song “You Don’t Know My Name” recorded by Alicia Keys on the New York native’s sophomore album” The Diary of Alicia Keys.” The track sampled the 1975 song “Let Me Prove My Love to You,” co-written by Williams and performed by The Main Ingredient.
The other songs in Williams’ 60-year career include Donny Hathaway’s “Love, Love, Love,” “I Can’t See Me Without You” by The Impalas, “Let Me Prove My Love To You,” another hit by The Main Ingredient, “Only When You’re Lonely” by Holly Maxwell, The Four Tops’ “Seven Lonely Nights,” “Keep on Holding On” by Margaret Reynolds and Sandra Phillips’ “Hoping You Will Come Back.”
Williams was born on Jan. 13, 1939, in Fernandina Beach, Florida. After graduating high school, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Great Falls, Montana, where he formed a group called The Chuck A Lucks, per Deadline. However, he later moved to New York and started writing for a local publishing company.
Williams is survived by his immediate family– including his wife, sister Dorothy Jones; sons children Kenny Williams Jr, Kevin D. Williams and Kalvin Williams; daughter, Cheryl Nicholson, and stepson, Kenny J. Seymour.