Signed with Irving Music in 1967, teamed with Roger Nichols. The first song they wrote was "It's Hard to Say Goodbye." Williams left Almo/Irving in 1974. Among the hit songs by the team:
Out in the Country--Three Dog Night
Cried Like a Baby--Bobby Sherman
Talk It Over in the Morning--Anne Murray
So Many People--Chase
Rainy Days and Mondays--Carpenters
We've Only Just Begun--Carpenters (sold over 2.5 million copies)
Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song--Three Dog Night (sold over one million copies)
The sheet music to "We've Only Just Begun" sold over one million copies by 1977.
About several of his hit songs, Williams told Radio & Records:
"The guy who'd been commissioned to write the commercial for the United California Bank broke his arm in a skiing accident, so Roger and I agreed to take a crack at it. It turned out to be 'We've Only Just Begun' We didn't think that much of it. It still doesn't sound like a hit to me, but it sure was."
"'Rainy Days and Mondays' started out with just that line: 'rainy days and Mondays always get me down.' It took two months to get the song finished. Roger finished the music and I figured out the rest of the lyrics."
"Whereas 'Old-Fashioned Love Song' was a 20-minute song....I'd just got a gold record...and I joked to myself, 'Well, the Kid did it again, with an old fashioned love song!'...I sat down at the piano with that phrase...and I finished the song right there on the spot."
Signed as an artist with A&M Records in 1971 after Herb Alpert asked Williams to write the lyrics for Michel Colombier's jazz symphony Wings and to sing on the recording. He recorded seven albums for A&M from 1971 through 1975.
In 1973, his lyrics for "That's What Friends Are For" was licensed to Hallmark Cards. Hallmark was experimenting with greeting cards based on pop music. This Paul Williams lyric was among the best selling cards in the line.
Williams was the 1973 U.S. entry at the second annual Tokyo Music Festival. He competed against 25 vocal compositions.
In 1974, Paul Williams did a concert in the A&M Studios that was broadcast on KNX-FM radio in Los Angeles.
During Williams' time with A&M, he was nominated for three Oscar Awards for "Nice to Be Around," Phantom of The Paradise and Bugsy Malone. Phantom of The Paradise and Bugsy Malone were also Golden Globe nominees. His songs "We've Only Just Begun" and "You and Me Against the World" were Grammy nominees.
Williams went on to write scores for motion pictures including The Getaway, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Cinderalla Liberty, Phantom of the Paradise, Bugsy Malone, A Star Is Born, and The Day of the Locust.
- Williams, Paul. Current Biography, June 1983.
- Paul Williams. A&M Records biography.
- From Tiny Tim B-Sides to the Carpenters. Radio & Records, October 31, 1973.
- Vox Jox. Billboard, September 28, 1974.