Don Wil­liams

Coun­try singer

Daily Express - - LIVES REMEMBERED -

BORN MAY 27, 1939 DIED SEPTEM­BER 8, 2017, AGED 78

KNOWN as the “gen­tle gi­ant” of coun­try mu­sic on ac­count of his laid-back man­ner and 6ft 1in frame, singer Don Wil­liams had 17 No 1 hits in­clud­ing Tulsa Time and I’m Just A Coun­try Boy in the US, be­fore hang­ing up his mi­cro­phone in 2016.

Born and raised in Texas, he was taught the gui­tar by his mother but it took years be­fore he fi­nally got his big break as a coun­try singer.

Be­fore en­joy­ing mi­nor suc­cess as a mem­ber of the Pozo-Seco Singers in 1966 he worked as a debt col­lec­tor, truck driver and in the smelt­ing plants and oil­fields of Texas.

When the group split in 1969 Wil­liams was forced to work in his fa­ther’s fur­ni­ture store but within two years had found his way to Nashville and had his own record con­tract.

In 1974 he scored his first top-five hit with We Should Be To­gether fol­lowed by his first No 1 sin­gle, I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me.

His suc­cess crossed the At­lantic to Bri­tain where his ad­mir­ers in­cluded the rock stars Pete Town­shend and Eric Clap­ton, both of whom recorded his mu­sic.

In 1976 Wil­liams was well re­ceived at the Wem­b­ley Fes­ti­val and nearly three decades later his per­for­mance at the Royal Al­bert Hall got an equally en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse.

“The English pay a lot of re­spect to your mu­sic,” he once told an in­ter­viewer.

“They know who wrote the song, where you recorded it, and who the mu­si­cians were.

“There are a lot of English fans who can re­mem­ber more about what I’ve done than I can.”

The hits – which in­cluded I Be­lieve in You, Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good and You’re My Best Friend – kept on com­ing and in 2010 he was in­ducted into the Coun­try Hall of Fame.

Four years later he re­leased his last stu­dio al­bum, Re­flec­tions.

Wil­liams died of em­phy­sema. He is sur­vived by Joy, his wife of 57 years, and their two sons Gary and Timmy.

POP­U­LAR: Wil­liams the ‘gen­tle gi­ant’

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