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Country music's 'Gentle Giant' Don Williams dies aged 78

Williams had a string of hits before retiring in 2016. His mellow sound influenced a generation of singers.

DON WILLIAMS, THE award-winning country singer, has died.

He was 78.

A statement from his publicist Kirt Webster said he died yesterday after a short illness.

Obit Don Williams Source: Mark Humphrey

Williams had a string of hits before retiring in 2016. His mellow sound influenced a later generation of singers including Joe Nichols and Josh Turner and Keith Urban has said Williams drew him to country music.

Williams, nicknamed ‘the Gentle Giant,’ had a rich voice, gentle delivery and storytelling style. He toured sparingly, did few media interviews and spent much of his time on his farm west of Nashville.

“It’s one of those blessings and curses kind of things,” Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1994.

If you have the talent, it’s a blessing. But there’s times that … a lot of the prices that you have to pay to be a part of it is a curse. But as far as … the way people have responded to what I’ve done, there’s very few things in my life that I’ve done that come anywhere close to making you feel exhilarated and humbled and fulfilled and challenged and all that, all at the same time.

His hits included I Believe in You, Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good, You’re My Best Friend, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, Till the Rivers All Run Dry and Back in My Younger Days.

He was also popular overseas, touring in Europe and Africa. Eric Clapton recorded his We’re More Than Friends and Pete Townshend redid his Til the Rivers All Run Dry.

Source: Country Road TV/YouTube

Tributes 

“Don Williams offered calm, beauty, and a sense of wistful peace that is in short supply these days,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

He won the Country Music Association’s awards for best male vocalist and best single for Tulsa Time in 1978.

During his performances, he often walked onstage carrying a cup of coffee, sat on a barstool, sang and chatted amiably with the audience.

Williams also appeared in the movies W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings and Smokey and the Bandit II.

“Farewell, the great Don Williams,” said Rosanne Cash on Twitter and quoted from Good Ole Boys Like Me: “‘Those Williams boys, they still mean a lot to me/ Hank & Tennessee.’ & Don, too.”

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010, but missed the ceremony because he had bronchitis. His last studio album came out in 2014 and he was the subject of a tribute album this year that included performances of his hits by Lady Antebellum, Garth Brooks and Chris Stapleton.

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Associated Press

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