Hit Songwriter Kim Williams Dead at 68

Co-wrote “Three Wooden Crosses," “Ain’t Going Down (Til The Sun Comes Up)"

Kim Williams, who co-wrote hits for Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney and many other country music artists, died Thursday (Feb. 11) in Florida at the age of 68.

Kim Edwin Williams was born into a musical family in Kingsport, Tenn., on June 28, 1947. According to information he provided the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (into which he was inducted in 2012), he was writing songs by the time he was 11. Later he played and toured in a variety of bands throughout the South and Midwest.

After he married, Williams left the music business and took jobs in the construction industry. In 1974, he was severely burned in an electrical fire at a glass plant. His burns were so extensive that he underwent more than 200 reconstructive surgeries. Even so, his face was permanently scarred.

Because many of his operations took place at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, it turned his mind again to music. After taking songwriting classes, he began pitching songs and in 1989 found a job as staff writer at Tree International music publishing.

In 1991, Williams scored his first hit when Joe Diffie took “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)” to the top of the chart. Williams collaborated with Garth Brooks on the No. 1 “Ain’t Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)” and the Top 5 “Papa Loved Mama,” “It’s Midnight Cinderella” and “She’s Gonna Make It.”

His other No. 1 singles were Reba McEntire’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and Randy Travis’ comeback hit, “Three Wooden Crosses.”

Also among Williams’ Top 5 successes were Kenny Chesney’s “Fall In Love,” Doug Stone’s “Warning Labels,” Clay Walker’s “Who Needs You Baby” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Honky Tonk Truth.”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.