You’d be hard-pressed to find a life, a career or a body of work quite like that of singer/songwriter/performer/composer H. Jack Williams.
Jack himself credits equal parts luck, talent and tenacity. “My whole life, I’ve gone out and gotten stuff done,” he says. “I think I have unique emotional connections within me, and I’ve always found a way to make that connection musically.” But for one of Nashville’s hardest working songwriters and most in-demand co-writers – and now with flourishing work in film and television – it’s been a one-of-a-kind 40+ year ride with some of the biggest names in Folk, Rock and Country. And in many ways, he’s just getting started.
Raised in the tiny town of Eureka, Florida, Williams began writing songs shortly after his 1971 discharge from the US Marines Force Recon. It was while working in Atlanta as a trained Escoffier chef and moonlighting as a roadie that Williams went after his first break by knocking on Richie Havens’ hotel room door. “Actually banged on it all night long,” Jack laughs, “until he opened the door and I handed him a cassette.” The Woodstock icon invited Jack to New York City to be his opening act, eventually playing on and producing the demo that got Jack a $500 advance from Clive Davis (who insisted on first playing Jack the demo of ‘Mandy’). By 1974, Jack was back cooking in Atlanta when he spotted a tour bus belonging to The Who. Still in his chef whites, Williams approached the road crew and boldly asked for an introduction to Roger Daltrey. “I knew Roger loved songwriters,” Jack says, “and Pete Townsend knew songs.” Williams was ushered backstage that night and spent the next few months on tour with the band, eventually signing a deal – his first – with the publishing company owned by Daltrey, Townsend and Who manager Bill Curbishley. For two years and dozens of unmentionable road stories, Jack was mentored by one of the greatest acts in rock history.
Towards the end of his Who deal, Williams got a phone call from Ken Hensley, Keyboardest and primary songwriter of UK proto-metal rockers Uriah Heep, who invited Jack to move to London as the band’s first outside in-house songwriter. Jack jumped at the invite, and amid opening UK shows for Havens and demo sessions with neighbors like Alvin Lee and George Harrison, Uriah Heep would record four of Jack’s songs for the Gold albums Innocent Victim and Firefly. But it was a group of fellow small-town Florida boys that triggered the next chapter of Jack’s career. “Lynyrd Skynyrd came to London for their Knebworth concert”, Jack explains. “I got to know the band, played Ronnie Van Zant some of my songs, and he suggested I come to Florida and be part of the Southern Rock scene.”
Williams moved back to the states, founding the Jacksonville-based band Streets Of Ice, landing cuts with acts like Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet, and writing with Gregg Allman. Dickie Betts became a good friend and began producing the Streets Of Ice project. But when the band imploded just before signing their major label deal, Betts suggested that Jack’s songwriting skills could find a full-time home in Nashville.
With a $50 loan and a one-way bus ticket, Williams landed in Nashville and signed a publishing deal with The Oak Ridge Boys, who soon recorded Jack’s songs ‘Seasons’ and ‘Everybody Wins’. Jack then had his first major hit, co-writing – with Allman Brothers Band member Warren Haynes – Gregg Allman’s ‘Just Before The Bullets Fly’. But when the mid-‘90s Country Boom began to fade, Williams returned to his culinary background, opening restaurants in North Carolina, Memphis and Olympia, and running kitchen teams on research vessels in the Aleutian Islands and Azores, and on supply ships during the Gulf War, for which he earned a Medal of Bravery from President Bush. “I’d also played blues clubs in Seattle,” Jack adds, “which is how Leonard Chess signed me to a writing deal with Chess Records. So I guess we can add ‘Blues Artist’ to the list, too.”
Williams returned to Nashville in 2005, owning a catering business while landing cuts with artists that included Montgomery Gentry, Black Stone Cherry, and on the MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN Soundtrack. He signed a new publishing deal with Lynn Gann Music Enterprises in 2015, scoring even more cuts that included Canadian artist Aaron Pritchett’s Top 10 hit ‘Dirt Road In ‘Em.’ “When it comes to commercial radio stuff, I write like a gunfighter,” Jack says. “But at a certain point, I couldn’t write another line about drinking beer in the back of a truck with a girl. I needed to find the soul of my music again.”
Jack began writing songs reflective of his lifetime of not only struggles, but his continued sense of hope. He would soon – in more ways than one – find his own voice. “Pete Townsend once told me, ‘Always hire a great singer’,” Jack explains. “I never believed my vocals were that strong, which is why I always used other singers for my demos. But I began participating in singer/songwriter nights here in Nashville and got the kind of reaction I’d never received before. When I started to sing what’s in my heart, everything began to change.”
Williams soon connected with Academy Award winner Kevin Costner, whose band Kevin Costner & Modern West had recorded two of Jack’s songs (including the Top 20 hit ‘Love Shine’), leading Costner to cut additional five Jack tracks for his hit TV series’ TALES FROM YELLOWSTONE soundtrack. Jack signed with Anthem Entertainment for additional film & television work, and has since collaborated with award-winning Welsh composer John Hardy. And his 2020 EP (Already Dead) produced by Brothers Osborne’s Adam Box, became – after nearly five decades of music and adventure fit for a dozen lives – H. Jack Williams’ first solo release. “I feel like a 20 year old singer/songwriter again,” Jack says, with the characteristic combination of fortitude and poignancy that still defines his life, his career, and his very best work to come. “I’m a survivor, and I keep pushing forward. I believe that my A-game has just begun.”
“Jack is a rugged poet with the tender heart.
He’s seen war and understands love.
It’s a baseline as he communicates his feelings”.
I have known Jack for almost 50 years and during that time
we created some very powerful songs together.
We go back to the time in 1973 when he knocked on my hotel room door
in Atlanta and presented himself as a songwriter with a lot to offer
This was a surprise and a bit unusual but rock star security wasn’t as intense then as it is
now but as it happens, we did find some common ground and his work appeared on a number
of albums I recorded with my band, Uriah Heep.
I suppose the words ¨surprise¨ and ¨unusual¨ say a lot about Jack and his talent and work.
He has a way of digging deeper than most in his song subjects and, at his best, is a great
We are still in close contact and working on some interesting ideas and I am happy that the
internet bridges the physical gap between us.
Jack is dedicated and diligent and, given the opportunity, he is guaranteed to give you
something to really think about!!”
“Jack is far and away one of the most talented writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. He has an uncanny way of taking a simple melody and lyric and making it totally unique and hauntingly memorable
“Jack Williams…”salt of the earth….a REAL songwriter and an honest man”
“Jack is a super talented lyricist and a terrific chef. When we bought Puckett’s Leiper’s Fork,
Jack, Shanel and I walked into the restaurant on Black Friday 2008 at 5am, our first day;
and one of the busiest days of the year. Needless to say, we got our butt’s kicked together.
A great day, I will never forget.”
“Jack is not only a great writer, he is a great person. I am proud to call Jack my friend and co-writer. He is something special!”
“I’ve known Jack a long time. We met when I was Roger Daltrey’s PA in the 70s
Jack was a great song writer who needed a break like many talented people
I hope I helped him on his way a little bit even so I know he struggled,
but Jack goes to show that you have to keep knocking on doors to get there.
He proves even after all these years he never doubted his talent and has know
become a very respected songwriter
He will an inspiration to anyone out there to keep going you never know who is listening.”
“I met Jack through Tracy Lawrence, who helped set up a co-write for an upcoming record I making at the time. I was immediately blown away by his writing and creativity. Over the years, what started out as a working relationship…turned into one of my dearest friendships. I’ve told him for years, his life history is a best selling biography waiting to happen. Highs, lows, ups, downs…he’s lived through it all. He’s a self made man, who has worked with some of the best and brightest in film and music alike. Yet, he’s still one of the most humble people I’ve ever come across. His heart and drive inspire me to be better…not just in writing or as musician, but as a Husband, Father, Son, and Friend. I’m a big believer in anything he attaches his name too. He never ceases to amaze me and I cannot wait to see what’s next…or for our next co-write/hang. Brutally honest, huge heart, loyal and kind…so proud to call Jack not just a friend, but a part of the Pruno crew.”
“I have known Jack for many years starting with the songs he wrote for Uriah Heep. These were strong Heep songs that fit very well into our classic rock catalog, and we always had great pleasure in performing those songs on stage. Over the years he has sent me many of his songs that he had written or co-written, and it was always a delight to listen to how well-crafted they were. Apart from his song writing ability Jack is tenacious with a very do or die positive nature that is infectious. That is certainly one of his strengths, and if and whenever I think about starting a solo album Jack will be there for sure, as we have spoken about this a few times. He is a family man and values family life to the full, which is the foundation of everything he does. He communicates very well with others and he is known in the industry as being one of the good guys.”
“Jack is a great guy to have in the room. He has a knack for pinpointing a song’s essence and steering the write straight into where the heart of the song lives?
Jack & Friends
Let’s Get Started
My New Project
ROAD TO HELL
RELEASE DATE 5/1/2020