Friday was a devastating day for Country music.
Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash in New Jersey and hours earlier, it was confirmed that 78-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Williams, passed away after a brief illness. Dubbed the “Gentle Giant” for his smooth voice and tall stature, he left us the countless hits.
Williams struck gold with his first Country number one “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me” in 1974. He churned out 42 top 40 songs during his career. Other big hits included the now timely “I Believe In You,” "You're My Best Friend," “Amanda,” and “It Must Be Love.”
In 2006, the so-called "Gentle Giant" went on a retirement tour, but was talked out of it after being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. The easy going guy, who sat on a chair and created as much energy in the crowd as if he was running all over the stage, hung up his hat (incidentally given to him by Burt Reynolds) last year for good to spend more time with family.
Here are some cool facts about the 1978 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.
He was married for 57 years to wife Joy, with whom he has two sons.Only four of his 46 singles didn't make it to the Top Ten.Don was a superstar in South Africa and Kenya. We are talking Elvis stature.The UK and Ireland also adored the Gentle Giant and he even played Wembley back in 1977!Williams was in two Burt Reynolds films: “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.”Williams played the Stage Coach festival to a huge crowd in 2013.A tribute album “Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams” was released earlier this year.
The Floydada, Texas native was a big influence on Josh Turner, Alison Krauss, and Keith Urban - who he would later sing with.
Don Williams had a voice like the handshake from an old friend-just listened to GOOD OLE BOYS, and on and on! What a great soul - RIP Don