Songwriter Mentor Williams of “Drift Away” Fame Dies

Also Co-Penned Hits for Alabama, Eddy Raven, Randy Travis

Songwriter Mentor Williams, composer of Dobie Gray’s 1973 hit, “Drift Away,” died Wednesday (Nov. 16), according to the Taos (New Mexico) News. The location and cause of death were not reported, although he was a longtime resident of the Taos area. Nor was his age confirmable at press time.

Williams also co-wrote such country hits as Alabama’s “When We Make Love” (1984), Eddy Raven’s “She’s Gonna Win Your Heart” (1984) and Randy Travis and George Jones’ “A Few Ole Country Boys” (1990).

Narvel Felts had a Top 10 country hit with “Drift Away” in 1973. The song was later covered by Waylon Jennings, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and Michael Bolton, among others. Uncle Kracker enlisted Gray to join him on a remake of the song which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard’s all-genres Hot 100 chart in 2003 and topped the trade publication’s adult contemporary chart.

Williams is the brother of singer, songwriter and actor Paul Williams, who now serves as president and board chairman of ASCAP, the performance rights society.

Mentor Williams had a romantic relationship with country singer Lynn Anderson from the 1980s until her death in 2015.

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