John Towner Williams was born on Feb. 8, 1932 in Flushing. He was a middle child, with an older sister, Joan, and younger brother, Gerard. They lived comfortably in a big house at 143-40 Poplar Ave. His dad, John Sr., was a professional drummer who worked as a percussionist on the famous Kate Smith Radio Show. His Irish-French Canadian grandmother, Ada Towner, also lived in the house and helped nurture young John’s love of music. He became a piano player. In 1948, the family moved to California.
Williams started his own jazz band, experimenting with arranging tunes. Originally wanting to be a concert pianist and mastering the instrument, he deciding on composing as a career instead. Starting in television, he progressed to motion pictures — and is now regarded as one of the greatest film composers of all time. Willams has earned 52 Academy Award nominations, winning five Oscars — for “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Schindler’s List.”
He also has amassed six Emmy Award nominations, winning three; 25 Golden Globe bids, winning four; and 71 Grammy Award nominations, winning 25. His beloved work has deeply influenced other composers and contemporary and classical music.