A website, paulwilliams.com, has been set up to help raise money for the care of author Paul Williams, who in 1995 suffered a brain injury from a bicycle accident. Riding near his home in Encinitas, he was not wearing a helmet.
Considered to be one of the teenage founders of rock journalism when he created Crawdaddy! magazine in 1966, the 60-year-old has deteriorated to the point that he needs full-time care to handle the early onset of Alzheimer’s brought about by the injury.
On April 25, a private fundraising concert featuring his wife, Cindy Lee Berryhill, will be held in a Del Mar home. It’s the first of what is planned to be a series of benefit concerts. “There are plans to have a bigger event with all our local musician friends,” Berryhill confirmed. “We just haven’t had the time to make all the arrangements yet.” The pair has a seven-year-old son.
While Williams is best known as a journalist, with two dozen books to his credit, he participated in some of rock’s most historic recording moments. He can be heard among the marching feet at the beginning of Doors song “The Universal Soldier,” participated in sessions for the Beach Boys’ Smile album, and can be seen singing with John Lennon in the video for “Give Peace a Chance.”
In 2007 Williams sold Crawdaddy! to San Francisco–based online music archive Wolfgang’s Vault.
“He was doing okay for a while, but over the past few years, he’s slowed down to the point that his care has become an immense struggle,” Berryhill said. “It’s to the point that I look forward to going to work as my chance to rest.”
Last year, Berryhill flew to New York to discuss Williams’s condition with musical compatriots. The result was the formation of the Committee of Concern, a group that includes Patti Smith’s guitarist Lenny Kaye, Springsteen manager Jon Landau, and Rolling Stone editor David Fricke. As a first step in getting the word out about Williams’s plight, a Rolling Stone article is in the works.
Berryhill is unclear exactly how much money needs to be raised but notes Williams’s care will be an ongoing process. She hopes to enlist some of the music stars he interviewed and worked with over the years for help. Members of R.E.M. are among those who have already contributed.
“In times like this, it’s important to have family around,” Berryhill said. “For Paul, in a sense, the rock ’n’ roll community is his family.”