Obituary: Michael Williams, music industry executive

Michael (Mick) Williams, easy-going interviewer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Picture: Contributed
Michael (Mick) Williams, easy-going interviewer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Picture: Contributed
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Born: 14 January, 1967, in Dumbarton. Died: 2 September, 2015, in Clydebank. Aged 48.

Mick Williams, who has died at home in Clydebank aged 48 after a long illness, was a multi-talented, well-known member of the music industry in Scotland.

He was mad about music and loved mixing with the personalities who played it, sang it and produced it. He was a writer who interviewed and photographed some of the biggest stars in the business from The Beatles to Tom Jones and Texas.

Mick, the only son of Margaret and the late Mick Williams, was born into the Swinging Sixties at Overtoun Maternity Hospital in Dumbarton.

A clever child, Mick enjoyed reading and writing and was forever engrossed in books, entering library competitions and writing short essays.

He had a happy childhood during which he enjoyed caravan holidays in Arbroath with his parents.

As a teenager at St Columba’s High School, he began taking an interest in cinema and photography, interests which he carried with him into his adult working life.

His mother bought him his first Beatles album when he was just ten years old and from that moment on music was central to his life.

He listened to it constantly and entered radio phone-in competitions. He was so knowledgeable about The Beatles that he was once dubbed “The McCartney Mastermind” by the disc jockeys who took his calls.

However, Mick had wide tastes in music and his favourite composer was Ennio Morricone, whose album he bought with his pocket money when he was 11.

Mick enjoyed singing and playing music himself. He was self-taught and bought his first guitar with money raised by selling his much-loved ­bicycle.

When he was 17, he formed his own band, Natural Reflection, a popular group which played around clubs and pubs in Dunbartonshire.

His late father, who was a steel fixer, went to Australia to work and Mick and Margaret went with him, enjoying many musical events there. He also visited Canada and Bali, where he spent hours on end talking music to record collectors.

In 1985, Mick saw U2 performing in Glasgow and that started his career in music journalism, writing first for the Lennox Herald in Dumbarton and moving on to magazines and weekly and national newspapers.

His “hot gossip” music columns were highly successful and he was an accomplished interviewer.

He also encouraged young talent into the industry and held Mick’s Music Awards to raise money for St Margaret’s Hospice and Huntershill Hospice.

Apart from his easy charm and friendliness, Mick was an enormously hard worker who did all his own research, sourced his own material and contacted singers, bands and musicians to get the inside stories from the music business.

Bands including Texas, Big Country and Del Amitri said talking to Mick wasn’t really like doing an interview but more like talking to a friend.

His skill in getting along with people meant that publicists went to him to promote their clients. He met and photographed Paul McCartney in Glasgow and interviewed Tom Jones and BB King. He introduced Simple Minds gigs at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

When Bruce Springsteen came to Hampden Park in 2013, Mick, who struggled against the odds to get there, spent an hour in the lounge beforehand talking films and music with the actor Gary Lewis.

Lewis later told Mick’s mother: “Your son made a big impression on me. To be honest I felt a bit out of my depth when it came to Michael’s knowledge of films. He reminded me of Martin Scorsese. They both had passion, not just knowledge, about films.”

Music from The Beatles and U2 was played during the humanist funeral service and Mick, who is survived by his mother, was later interred beside his father at North Dalnottar Cemetery in Clydebank.