Paul Williams, Rock Criticism Pioneer, Dead at 64

'Rolling Stone' writer and founder of 'Crawdaddy!' magazine suffered brain injury in 1995

Paul Williams Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Lee Berryhill

Paul Williams, Rolling Stone writer and founder of Crawdaddy! magazine, died last night around 10:30 p.m. PST in Encinitas, California from complications from a 1995 brain injury. His wife, Cindy Lee Berryhill, confirmed the news today to Rolling Stone.

Williams began the influential Crawdaddy! magazine, which focused on music journalism, in 1966 while a student at Swarthmore College. After leaving the publication in 1968, he went on to a prolific writing career, authoring over 25 books and notably penning Rolling Stone's 1975 feature on the now-legendary sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. Williams' most well-known books include 1969's Outlaw Blues: A Book of Rock Music, 1973's Das Energi, and his multiple works on Bob Dylan. His three-part series Bob Dylan: Performing Artist is considered a defining work on the singer-songwriter.

Rockers Unite for Benefit Supporting 'Crawdaddy!' Founder Paul Williams

Williams returned to Crawdaddy! in time, running a revival of the magazine from 1993 to 2003. However, in 1995, he suffered a brain injury after a bicycle accident, which brought on early-onset Alzheimer's disease. In 2009, Williams reached out to the music community for help, and X's John Doe and former Dead Kennedys leader Jello Biafra led a special benefit show for him in San Francisco.

Berryhill noted in a Facebook post that Williams died with his oldest son, Kenta, by his side. There have been no announcements yet regarding a memorial service. Williams' original run of Crawdaddy! is available online for free at Wolfgang's Vault.