J.L. Williams
J.L. Williams

J.L. Williams

About J.L. Williams

Blues-rock artist Jerry Lynn Williams never quite broke through as a performer, despite his impressive skills as a guitarist and songwriter, but he enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter, penning tunes for the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Jerry Lynn Williams was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1948. Raised in nearby Fort Worth, he learned to play piano from his church pastor's wife, and at 11 acquired his first guitar. Williams quit school at 14 to tour the roadhouse circuit with his band the Epics, briefly joining Little Richard and playing alongside lead guitarist Jimmy James, later known as Jimi Hendrix. When authorities learned Williams was still in his mid-teens, they sent him back to Fort Worth, where he briefly backed his idol Jimmy Reed. He eventually migrated to Los Angeles, where he joined a band called High Mountain.
High Mountain landed a record deal with Columbia Records, releasing their debut album, Canyon, in 1970. Legal problems with the name High Mountain led to the album being reissued with the artist designation as the Jerry Williams Group and the LP retitled Down Home Boy. The album failed to do business under either name, and after High Mountain broke up, Williams landed a deal with the CBS-distributed Spindizzy Records. He teamed with Spindizzy co-founder David Briggs to cut his self-titled debut LP in 1972. When Jerry Williams earned little notice, Williams signed to Warner Bros. to record his second solo effort. He completed his album for WB, Gone, but the artist and the label had a severe falling out as the album was being readied for release in 1979, and while promotional copies were distributed to the press, the album never received a proper release.
Williams' recording career had hit a wall, but when Delbert McClinton scored his first Top 40 hit with his cover of Gone's "Givin' It Up for Your Love," Williams became a sought-after songwriter. Three of his compositions, including the hit "Forever Man," appeared on Eric Clapton's 1984 comeback effort Behind the Sun. Five years later, their collaboration resumed for the smash Journeyman, featuring the Williams-penned hits "Pretending" and "Running on Faith." He also contributed songs to Bonnie Raitt's Grammy-winning Nick of Time as well as B.B. King's 1992 album King of the Blues, and collaborated with brothers Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan on "Tick Tock," a song later played at the former's funeral. In 1996, Williams self-released The Peacemaker, his first solo effort in over two decades; it was released under the name Jerry Lynn Williams, the name he'd begun using, in part to avoid confusion with Jerry Williams, another idiosyncratic R&B songwriter who recorded as Swamp Dogg. Williams relocated to the island of St. Martin in 2003, and died there of kidney and liver failure on November 25, 2005. In 2015, Gone finally received a belated release on CD from Real Gone Records. ~ Jason Ankeny

  • GENRE