A few friends have nudged me over the past 3 months, since the music conference to post some photos from the panel on my late husband Paul Williams. Truth is, with all the organizing of, getting the panel ready to go, I'd forgotten to ask someone to take photos. Luckily Anthony Butler and Raul Sandelin were shooting footage for an upcoming independent film they're making about rock journalism, called THE ROCK BARDS. My friend Jon Kanis was sent to SXSW to film our panel and grab some individual journalists interviews and other stuff. So thank you Jon, Raul and Tony for the stills!
I had uploaded about 50 photos of Paul through the years, covers of CRAWDADDY MAGAZINE, and a few of his books to show on Power Point behind the talk. I was thinking that morning; shit that's way too much, what am I thinking, a slide every 2 minutes? But as it turned out my over preparation was perfect. Whenever someone would talk about Paul in a certain year I had a slide. When David Fricke referred to Paul's book Outlaw Blues, I had a slide. When Ed Ward talked about the NYC CRAWDADDY! office, i had a slide.
Ed had great stories about meeting Paul in 1966; a kid standing in front of a speaker jamming out to the band on the stage and handing out free CRAWDADDY'S like candy to the kids. And Paul's youthfully-full of himself -attitude when giving Ed a copy and asking him to write. Ed was full of cool stories of that time. I had hoped he would tell the tale, which is in print in the book A History of Rolling Stone, where he got fed up working for Paul and wrote a letter of resignation, put it on Pauls desk with a knife through it. Nice flare Ed.
Through a series of friends I came to know and invite Paula Mejia to be a part of the panel and she was great. I was hoping there might be someone out there, under 30, in the current world of rock writing that dug Paul's writings, and might feel influenced by it, and she did.
Earlier on, I started things off with a quick read, a quote from Paul's very good friend Pat Thomas, a summation of who Paul was as a writer, and a friend. Pat's lovingly written piece was originally featured on NPR after Paul's passing March 2013.
I have been a fan of Ann's writings and her outspoken-ness on feminist issues for many years. It was an honor to have her speak about Paul's writings and join in on the panel discussions. Plus I loved having another mother in the group...
Ed telling that knife story with some flare....
At the SXSW panel David spoke of Paul's influence on his own writing and about how much he loved Outlaw Blues. I met David Fricke at a Patti Smith concert in 1995, in San Diego. Paul and I were guests backstage and afterwards we went out to eat with David. It was always a pleasure to sit back and listen to what Paul and another practicing rock writer would have to say about the current state of art.
In 2008 I made a trip to New York and met with my friend David Bither and told him how Paul's health was deteriorating and we talked of a plan, of getting a group of Paul friends together to help create an awareness of Paul's situation (i.e. needing funds to pay for health care). We rallied a super group of 7 friends including himself; Lenny Kaye, Jon Landau, Jonathan Lethem, Johan Kugelberg, Will Amato, and David Fricke. They met several times and devised a plan which jump started a fund-raiser that helped me get Paul special care and into a nursing home in our town.
I will forever be grateful to Davids support and soothing words, at a time when Paul, and I, really needed it.
The panel was an hour and we only had enough time for a couple of questions. Jim Fouratt chimed right in, from the crowd, and talked about the Be In he and Paul organized at New Yorks Central Park in 1967.
Someone asked about Paul's spiritual side, and the panel got quiet, finally David Fricke fobbed that ball over into my court. Actually though not the place to talk about it at length, Paul's spiritual practices and pursuits over the years are indeed pretty interesting and did have an affect on his writings. I think I mentioned his belief in tithing, in which he would subscribe and pay extra to his favorite magazine The Sun, and his Buddhist studies. He and I went on several Thich Nhat Hahn retreats. I think the thing he dug most about Hahn was his anti war stance, and that Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1964.
Thanks to everyone that participated and came to the Paul Williams panel this year. Thanks to SXSW for hosting it. It was a true pleasure to see Paul's good influence living on...