At the peak of his early success, Williams appeared in two of Burt Reynolds' feature films, "W.W. And The Dixie Dance Kings" and "Smokey & the Bandit II." In the former, the movie idol gifted the singer with the hat that would become his trademark. The original item was stolen, returned, and retired 17 years ago, but Stetson made him an exact duplicate that he faithfully wears to this day.
During the early '90's, Williams, plagued by back problems, dismissed his band and road manager and took himself out of the mix for a couple of years. Upon return, he recorded sporadically for the short-lived independent American Harvest, and Giant Records.
Williams was attracted to RMG by label head George Collier, who worked regional sales during the singer's MCA hey-day. "Volume one was released on American Harvest, which immediately went defunct. So, it really hasnÕt been out enough so that anybody has it to any extent. In working with George and starting this thing out, he really felt it would be better to go ahead and go with Volume Two because it would be newer sounding."
After 37 years in the business, Williams still enjoys the momentum of touring and plays between 70 and 80 concerts a year. Most of his set changes from show to show, but there exists some songs he doesn't feel right about not performing.
"I have five or six songs that I don't leave out because if I do, I'm in trouble, y'know? 'Amanda,' 'You're My Best Friend,' Š I've tried leaving 'Till The Rivers All Run Dry' out and was chastised over that. "I Believe In You," I usually do 'Lord I Hope This Day Is Good' and 'I Recall A Gypsy Woman' and 'Tulsa Time.'"
Yes, audiences the world over, mostly couples, still softly croon along with "Till The Rivers All Run Dry" and "You're My Best Friend," particularly in Great Britain where Williams is still enormously popular. The grateful singer chuckled, "Sometimes it's absolutely beautiful to hear the difference on how they pronounce some words."
Surprised when asked if his current live disc, his first outing in three years, is a prelude to a studio album of new material Williams answers point blank, "Y'know, I don't know. George and I have not discussed that at all at this point." Then he wisely, but thoughtfully adds, "I would be up for it, if I felt like everything was justified."