The son of a guitarist, John Williams -- not to be confused with the film composer of the same name -- took his first guitar lessons at age seven from his own father. By the time he was 11, he'd been sent to study with Andres Segovia, and the following year, with the virtuoso's endorsement, he earned a scholarship to Siena's Accademia Musicale Chigiana. In 1956, Williams entered the Royal College of Music and took up piano and composition. In 1958, at age 17, he made his London concert debut at Wigmore Hall and followed this with his Paris debut a year later. In addition to his concert work, he spent the next decade teaching at the Royal College of Music.