Entered fandom in 1978, at the Phoenix Worldcon, enticed by college friend, Bob Laurent and found filk at the same time, because of luminaries like Bob Asprin and Gordy Dickson. There followed many conventions, including the infamous “Juanita Coulson versus the riverboat whistle” convention where he acquired his first small pamphlet of filksongs.
In the wake of the 1980 Westercon in Los Angeles, Paul Willett, Gary Anderson and Ev Turner stared LAFA – Los Angeles Filkers Anonymous – to host filksings in homes in the greater LA area and fill the void that, then, existed. Paul was the one out front, in public, who composed the monthly Flyer for the next filksing, and collected names, addresses, and money for postage, to start a regular mailing list. In August, 1981, the single-sheet flyer became a four page ‘zine, with news, gossip, and the occasional filksong, often written by Paul. It got a name: The Philk-Fee-Nom-Ee-Non (aka PFNEN for short). Issue #14 was the breakthrough – expanded to sixteen pages, eight of them filksongs. Paul kept this going monthly up to Issue #47 in October 1985. It quickly became what was one of the biggest filk zines of its time. It was influential in popularizing filk on the West Coast, and it is the only filk zine to be nominated for a Hugo (1984) . This lead to introducing SoCal filkers to a number of major filk performers they would never have seen without traveling themselves.
Paul was also a ringleader in the cabal which started, in1983, Con-Chord, the of Southern California filk convention, along with Gary Anderson, Eric Gerds and Chris Weber. Alternating with Bayfilk for the first few years, Paul, Gary, Eric and Chris built up Con-Chord to 2015. He served as Conchair twice and as Toastmaster in 2004.
All of the institutions Paul established continued, long after the originators have moved on to other endeavours. LAFA still meets every month, except when ConChord, or a Westercon or Worldcon are in LA. Con-Chord, which was first held in 1983 continued every year until 2015
Paul also is a filk songwriter of a number of songs most notably, “Ronald Regan Carl Sagan San Diegan Pagan” and “Cold Equations”, both published on Off Centaur tapes. The former was a cult hit at conventions through the early ’80’s with attendees wearing pins depicting the individuals named in this filk song. It is still popularly sung at LAFA filksings, it is also known and sung by filkers in both Australia and New Zealand (as discovered by a fan during visits to disCONtinuity in Auckland, 1994). Filk songs which stand the test of time are testaments to their writers and a tribute to filkdom.
During the 1980’s, Bob Laurent would send Paul off for weekends to various cons, to do another job, as the recording guy for Bob’s “Wail Songs”. He got his son Steve to flip tapes at a few ConChords and Consonances when he needed a break.
For these contributions to filk music and the filk community Paul Willett is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-first day of April, two thousand eighteen.