Ken Williams, a Grammy-winning songwriter most famous for writing the 1972 hit “Everybody Plays the Fool,” has died at age 83.
The iconic song scribe’s death was confirmed by his wife, Broadway actress and singer Mary Seymour Williams, the Associated Press reported.
Williams reportedly passed away June 17 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Long Island, following a long battle with an illness that was confirmed as not related to COVID.
Born on Jan. 13, 1939, in Fernandina Beach, Florida, he was a longtime New York City resident. On his R&B classic “Everybody Plays the Fool,” he collaborated on with Rudy Clark and J.R. Bailey. It was famously recorded by the Main Ingredient, with lead vocals by Cuba Gooding Sr., the father of actor Cuba Gooding Jr. The hit song quickly became the band’s most successful single, hitting No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1972.
While “Everybody Plays the Fool” is certainly Williams’ best-known tune, the prolific artist wrote or co-wrote more than 500 songs over the course of his storied 60-year career. Some of his greatest hits include “Love, Love, Love” performed by Donny Hathaway, “I Can’t See Me Without You” by the Impalas, “Let Me Prove My Love to You” by the Main Ingredient, “Only When You’re Lonely” by Holly Maxwell, “Seven Lonely Nights” by Four Tops, “Keep on Holding on” by Margaret Reynolds and “Hoping You Will Come Back” by Sandra Phillips. Meanwhile, his tracks have been sampled by music superstars ranging from Alicia Keys to Lil Wayne, Deadline reported.
Williams’ production company, A Dish-A-Tunes — founded in 1968 — won a Grammy Award in 2004 after their samples were included in the song “You Don’t Know My Name,” which was recorded by Keys and produced by Kanye West.
Williams is survived by his wife; a sister, Dorothy Jones; sons Kenny Williams Jr., Kevin D. Williams and Kalvin Williams; and a daughter, Cheryl Nicholson. He also has a stepson, Kenny J. Seymour, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.