Country music singer Don Williams died on Friday, September 8, 2017, following a short illness. Nicknamed “Gentle Giant” due to his height and warm voice, Williams had many hits, including “Tulsa Time,” “It Must Be Love,” and “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good.” He was 78 years old.
Williams was born on May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas. He grew up in Portland, TX and graduated from Gregory-Portland High School in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army for two years and worked in odd jobs to support himself.
He formed the Pozo-Seco Singers with Susan Taylor and Lofton Cline, recording for Columbia Records. Williams played with the group until 1969, then it disbanded a year later. In December 1971, he became a songwriter for Jack Clement, then got a contract with JMI Records as a solo act. His song “We Should Be Together” reached No. 5 in ’74 and he signed with ABC/Dot Records.
His first ABC/Dot single “I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me” was a No. 1 hit. It was followed by several Top 10 hits from ’74 to ’91. Of his 46 singles only 4 didn’t reach the Top 10.
In addition to his successful music career, he appeared in some of Burt Reynolds’ movies. He guest starred as a member of the Dixie Dancekings in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings and played himself in Smokey and the Bandit II.
In the mid-2000s he announced the “Farewell Tour of the World” playing in the U.S. and internationally. But, in 2010 he came out of retirement to tour once again. Two years later he announced the new album And So it Goes, featuring other country hitmakers Alison Krauss, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill. In March 2016 he announced that he was retiring.
Collectively, Williams released 25 studio albums, plus live albums and compilations. In ’78 he won the Academy of Country Music Single Record of the Year – Tulsa Time and the Country Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year. He was nominated for several other awards for both organizations.