The End of an Era

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For those that knew Don Williams, they knew him for the heartfelt country ballads that he composed. Don Williams has passed away at the age of 78. News of his death was broken by Kirt Webster who was his publicist. During the announcement, he said that Don Williams had succumbed to emphysema and he died last night in Mobile, Alabama. During his illustrious career, Don Williams was never comfortable being in the limelight. However, with the counties that he produced, 17 of them were singles that earned him a name in country music. Some of these singles such as Lord I Hope This Day Is Good and You’re My Best Friend went on to top the Billboard country chart for 10 years ending 1984. He was also very famous in Britain where his fans included Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. He stopped producing the hits at the beginning of the 1990s. Prior to that, the County Music Association had named him as the male vocalist of the year back in 1978. During his career, he managed to release 52 songs that topped the country chart. Out of these songs, 45 would make it to Top 10. Those who knew Williams can tell you that he had been nicknamed the Gentle Giant despite being six feet one inch tall.

Don Williams excelled at writing as well as recording plainly spoken songs. He managed to win fans by making his songs about romance. Some of his themes included cheating and marital fidelity. He made the latter look sexy and appealing. One song that can explain these themes includes “Till the Rivers All Run Dry.” However, his success as an artist had other compelling reasons such as a stylistic reach and accessibility. In a 1995 interview, Don Williams said that he was inspired by the likes of Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and Ray Price. He was speaking to the British magazine Country Music International. Don Williams also spoke about how he used to listen to the Platters, the Ink Spots as well as Teresa Richard. He said he wouldn’t forget the role of Little Richard and Bill Haley in shaping his career. The success of Don Williams may also be attributed to the inputs of crossover music producers that included the like of Garth Fundis and Allen Reynolds. These were experienced producers who managed to mix sensibilities from R&B, rock, pop and country music. Don Williams was born in rural Texas in 1939.

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