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.
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