Country music great Don Williams has died after a short illness, his publicist announced Friday afternoon. Williams was 78.
A native of Floydada, Texas, Williams found his way to Nashville in the late ‘60s and made his chart debut with “The Shelter of Your Eyes” in 1973. A year later he had his first No. 1 hit with “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.”
Williams, who became known as “The Gentle Giant” for his humble and soft-spoken demeanor, landed his biggest hit in 1981 with “I Believe In You.”
“I like songs [when it’s] a real personal statement because that’s the way [the songwriter] felt at that moment and they don’t care if anyone ever records it,” Williams told American Songwriter in 1988. “It’s that intense of a statement from a person – those are the songs I love the best.”
Other gems from Williams’ catalog include “Amanda” (Bob McDill), “Tulsa Time” (Danny Flowers), “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” (Wayland Holyfield), “The Ties That Bind” (Vin Corso/Clyde Otis), “Good Ole Boys Like Me” (Bob McDill), “Walkin’ A Broken Heart” (Alan Rush/Dennis Linde) and “Maggie’s Dream” (Dave Loggins/Lisa Silver).
Throughout his career, Williams projected a warmth and wholesomeness — in song and in person — that seemed perfectly genuine. “I think it’s a sad situation when people totally take an attitude that they shouldn’t be responsible, that they don’t need to be responsible for what they talk about or how they act,” he told American Songwriter. “It shouldn’t be a crippling kind of weight; I think it’s just an awareness.
Williams performed his last show in 2016. “It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home,” he said at the time. “I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support.”
Funeral arrangements are pending, his publicist said.