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Hall of Fame Songwriter Kim Williams Dead at 68

Kim Williams dead dies
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Kim Williams, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member and the writer of hits for country stars such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and more, has died.

According to the Tennessean, Williams passed away on Thursday night (Feb. 11), at the age of 68, in Florida; a cause of death was not given.

Born Kim Edwin Williams on June 28, 1947, in Kingsport, Tenn., Williams grew up in a musical family, began playing the guitar as a youngster and was writing songs by the time he was 11 years old (per the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame). He played in and toured around the South and Midwest with numerous bands, but after getting married, he left the music business and began working in construction and as an electronic technician.

In 1974, Williams got caught in a fire while working at a glass plant in Johnson City, Tenn., suffering severe burns all over his body. Throughout the next 10 years, he underwent more than 200 surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, much of it at Music City’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His time in Nashville helped Williams catch the songwriting bug again; he took songwriting classes, began pitching his work and became a staff songwriter with Tree International in 1989.

“I tell people that I got burned out on my last job and decided to become a songwriter,” Williams once said jokingly. “I don’t know if I’d ever have gotten back into music if I hadn’t had that accident.”

Williams’ first major hit as a songwriter came in 1991, thanks to Joe Diffie, who recorded his “If the Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets)” and took the song to No. 1. He scored additional No. 1 songs with Brooks’ “Ain’t Going Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up),” McEntire’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and Randy Travis‘ “Three Wooden Crosses.” His Top 5 hits include Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama,” “It’s Midnight Cinderella” and “She’s Gonna Make It,” as well as Kenny Chesney’s “Fall In Love” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Honky Tonk Truth.”

“… perhaps the most amazing man who ever walked the streets of Music Row,” fellow songwriter Bobby Braddock writes of Williams on Facebook. “… his smile and his positivity were an infectious ray of sunshine … a truly beautiful man who was an inspiration to all who knew him.”

Williams was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1994 and inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. He is survived by his wife Phyllis and daughter Amanda. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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