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John Williams

Musicial Family

John’s father, Johnny Williams, was a jazz percussionist with the Raymond Scott Quintet, and later worked for Twentieth Century Fox. John’s brothers Donald and Jerry are also percussionists, while John’s son Joseph is the lead vocalist for rock band Toto, best known for their 1982 hit ‘Africa’.1)

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, who also trained Henry Mancini, mentored Williams.2)


Williams went on to serve as a studio musician for Mancini.3)

Spielberg's Films

All but three of Steven Spielberg's 31 films, including Jaws, E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, have been scored by Williams. What were the ones he overlooked? The Color Purple, Bridge of Spies, and Ready Player One are a few examples. 4)

Jaws Theme

The tuba was used to play the two-note shark theme from Jaws however, the musician who performed it, Tommy Johnson, questioned why it wasn't played on the more appropriate French horn. Williams said that he wished it sounded “a bit scarier”.5)


Williams has received 51 Academy Award nominations, six Emmy nominations, 25 Golden Globe nominations, 67 Grammy nominations, and 15 Bafta nominations. 6)

First Rewards

His first Oscar nomination came in 1967 for his score for Valley of the Dolls, and his first win came in 1971 for Fiddler on the Roof. 7)

Most Rewards

Williams has the most Oscar nominations of any living individual. He is only one nomination short of Walt Disney, who garnered 59 nominations during his lifetime. 8)

Favorite Spielberg Films

Williams named Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Schindler's List as his favorite Spielberg films in a 2002 interview with The Guardian. 9)

London Symphony Orchestra

In 1971, Williams recorded a score for Fiddler on the Roof with the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has recorded 15 of his works with the London Symphony Orchestra, including Star Wars, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. 10)

Close Encounters Motif

Williams produced nearly 300 examples of the five-note communication motif – which the scientists use to speak with the visiting spaceship – while working on Close Encounters before Spielberg picked one, which was subsequently incorporated into the film's iconic tune. 11)

Star Wars Record

For 1977's Star Wars, Williams still maintains the record for the highest-grossing instrumental-only soundtrack CD of all time. 12)

Recording Industry Association Gold

The Recording Industry Association of America has certified six of Williams' scores as gold, indicating that they have sold over 500,000 copies each. 13)


In addition to film music, John Williams wrote symphony and concertos for tuba, trumpet, cello, and clarinet accompanied by a symphony orchestra. 14)

Music for the Olympics

John Williams has written musical settings for several Summer Olympics - in 1984, 1988, and 1996, as well as the 2002 Olympic Games. 15)

National Medal of Arts

In 2009 John Williams received the National Medal of Arts from then-US President Barack Obama. 16)

More than 100 film scores

Throughout his nearly 60-year career, John Williams has written music for more than 100 films 17)

john_williams.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/16 01:43 by aga