Born Paul Hamilton Williams, Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska, Williams wrote a number of pop hits from the 1970s, including hits for Three Dog Night (including "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "The Family of Man," and "Out in the Country"); Helen Reddy ("You and Me Against the World,") and The Carpenters, most notably "Rainy Days and Mondays," "I Won't Last a Day Without You," and "We've Only Just Begun. "
Incidentally, while "We've Only Just Begun" has become a standard for weddings, it was originally a song for Crocker National Bank television commercial featuring newlyweds.
A frequent cowriter of Williams was musician Kenneth Ascher; their songs together included the popular children's favorite "The Rainbow Connection," sung by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie.
Williams has worked on the music of a number of films, including writing and singing on Phantom of the Paradise (in which he also starred and earned an Oscar nomination for the music) and Bugsy Malone. He contributed lyrics to the song "You're So Nice to Be Around" with music by John Williams, and it earned them a Oscar nomination.
Along with Kenneth Ascher and Rupert Holmes, they wrote the music and lyrics to A Star Is Born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he has won one Academy Award for best song , "Evergreen" from A Star Is Born.
In April 2009, Williams was elected President and Chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.