2017-09-08 21:28:40 UTC
Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams dead at 78
Juli Thanki, USA TODAY NETWORK – TennesseePublished 2:36 p.m. CT Sept. 8, 2017 | Updated 3:47 p.m. CT Sept. 8, 2017
Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams died Friday after a short illness. He was 78 years old.
With his imposing stature, smooth vocals and soft-spoken nature, Williams was the "Gentle Giant" of country music. He was a staple of country radio in the 1970s and '80s, and over the course of his four-decade solo career, he recorded numerous songs now regarded as classics, including "Good Ole Boys Like Me," "Tulsa Time," "I Believe in You," "Lord, I Hope This Day is Good" and "It Must Be Love."
Don Williams was born May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas. In the 1960s, he was a member of the folk group Pozo-Seco Singers before striking out on a solo career in the early 1970s.
His first hit, "The Shelter of Your Eyes," came out in 1972; his first No. 1 single, "I Wouldn't Want to Live if You Didn't Love Me" came two years later. Between 1974-1985, he took 16 songs to the top of the charts.
In 1978, Williams won the Country Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year Award. That same year, his recording of Danny Flowers' "Tulsa Time" took home the Academy of Country Music's Single Record of the Year trophy.
He also brought country music to international audiences. "Don Williams: Into Africa," a concert special filmed in Zimbabwe, was recorded on a tour of Africa in the late 1990s.
Williams launched a farewell tour in 2006 that included a stop at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena, but retirement didn't stick. He returned to the studio and released two fine albums, "And So It Goes" and "Reflections," on Sugar Hill Records in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Those were the last studio records of his career. A live album recorded in Ireland was released in 2016.
Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010. He was unable to attend the medallion ceremony due to a bout of bronchitis, but Alison Krauss, bluegrassers the Del McCoury Band, and Chris Young were among the artists who performed his songs that night, a testament to his wide-ranging influence and appeal.
"In giving voice to songs like 'Good Ole Boys Like Me,' 'Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,' and 'Amanda,' Don Williams offered calm, beauty, and a sense of wistful peace that is in short supply these days," said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young on Friday. "His music will forever be a balm in troublesome times. Everyone who makes country music with grace, intelligence, and ageless intent will do so while standing on the shoulders of this gentle giant."
Williams retired again in 2016, stating "It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home."
"Gentle Giants," a tribute album featuring Krauss, Chris and Morgan Stapleton, Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley and more singing Williams' songs, was released earlier this year.
Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time.