Mentor Williams

Mentor Williams
Birth name Mentor Ralph Williams
Born (1946-06-11)June 11, 1946
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Died November 16, 2016(2016-11-16) (aged 70)
Taos, New Mexico, U.S.
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Songwriter
Associated acts Dobie Gray

Mentor Ralph Williams (June 11, 1946 – November 16, 2016) was an American songwriter and producer. He is best known for writing "Drift Away", a middle-of-the-road playlist classic performed by Dobie Gray in 1973.


The brother of songwriter Paul Williams, he received an ASCAP award for his 30 years of songwriting, and won 17 writing awards.[1]

Williams maintained an office at Almo-Irving, in Los Angeles, as staff writer in the late 1960s. He produced for A&M, MCA, RSO and Columbia Records, commuting between Los Angeles, Nashville, and London.

He worked at The Record Plant with Paul McCartney and Kenney Jones and at Apple Studios in London with Stealers Wheel and Gerry Rafferty. He produced albums for his brother, as well as for Kim Carnes, John Stewart, and Dobie Gray, among others. Mentor was a post-production, re-mix engineer for The Muppet Movie, which won a Grammy Award and an Academy Award. He worked on the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid soundtrack.

Williams built a home overlooking Taos, New Mexico, which he shared with country music singer Lynn Anderson; the two were in a romantic relationship from the 1980s until her death in 2015.[1]

He held numerous songwriting seminars and lectures at the college level, in an attempt to help up-and-coming writers learn the craft of putting words and music together. He finds inspiration for his music in the New Mexico mountains, riding horses, and from his brothers, Paul, a Songwriter's Hall of Fame inductee, and the late John Williams, a former NASA engineer who was awarded their highest honor, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, in 1969.[2]

Williams died of lung cancer at his home in Taos, New Mexico, at age 70.[3][4]


  1. 1 2 Romancito, Rick (November 16, 2016). "'Drift Away' songwriter Mentor Williams has died". The Taos News.
  2. "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Honor Awards". SP-4012 NASA historical data book: volume IV NASA resources 1969-1978: NASA. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  3. Betts, Stephen L. (17 November 2016). "'Drift Away' Songwriter Mentor Williams Dead at 70". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X.
  4. Hudetz, Mary (18 November 2016). "Mentor Williams, 'Drift Away' songwriter, dead at 70". Las Vegas Sun. Associated Press.

External links

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