Cliff Lipson/CBSSunday night at the Grammys, what may have been even more surprising than seeing two French robots -- aka the electronic dance duo Daft Punk -- win Album of the Year, was seeing the guy who made the acceptance speech. It was none other than Paul Williams, the legendary songwriter who penned classic hits like "Evergreen," "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Rainbow Connection" and many more.
So why was Williams onstage with Daft Punk? Because he was a featured artist on the winning album, Random Access Memories. He co-wrote two songs on the record, and even sang lead on one of them, a tune titled "Touch." When the disc was named Album of the Year, everyone featured on it won a trophy too, including Williams. But how on earth did he end up on the project in the first place? Because Daft Punk apparently worship him.
"I got a phone call from them. They were evidently huge fans of a movie I did 208 years ago called Phantom of the Paradise," Williams tells ABC News Radio. "They'd seen it about 20 *****. I think there's a chance that they got the idea to work behind the masks from that."
Phantom of the Paradise is a 1974 movie that featured Williams and for which he wrote the music. The cult film, loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera, is about a singer who's disfigured and rendered mute. He then dons a silver mask while terrorizing people at a concert venue called The Paradise.
Williams says Daft Punk "asked if I'd write lyrics to a couple of songs, which I did," adding, "Then, surprise of all surprises, they asked if I would sing 'Touch,' which is one of the songs on the album, the the one I performed. The other one is 'Beyond,' which they performed." He adds, "It's the biggest album that I've been involved with in years and years and years. It's a great surprise."
Asked if he's enjoying his success as a part of the Daft Punk project more than he did his work back in the '70s, Williams, who's 73, responds, "For one thing, I'm 23 years sober, so I get to remember how this one feels! But yeah, I think there's something about the fact that they have also reached out to some songwriters of my age. They have proved the opposite of ageism. They have said, 'This is something the world may really like.' Turns out they were right."
Others music legends featured on the Grammy-winning Daft Punk album include Nile Rodgers, the founder of the funk band Chic, and Giorgio Moroder, the famous Italian record producer and songwriter who gave the world Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby," Blondie's "Call Me" and many other hits.
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