Country Music Legend Don Williams Dead at 78

Country Music star, Don Williams dies at 78

Williams has been in Nashville, Tennessee for decades and was in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Country music great Don Williams has died after a short illness, his publicist announced Friday afternoon.

To support his family - which would grow to include two sons, Gary and Timmy - Williams worked at a number of odd jobs, including oil field work, and also as a bill collector. It's a question that resonates with some country fans and musicians even more than it once did, perhaps, as the styles and social mores of the music and culture change. In 2010, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and continued to tour until his retirement past year.

He won an Academy of Country Music (ACM) Award in 1978 for "Tulsa Time" and was named the Country Music Association (CMA Awards) top male vocalist that year. He quickly recovered and continued to tour, including a notable stop at the 2013 Stagecoach Festival in California, before performing his final dates at the end of 2015. His high-water mark was "I Believe In You", a No. 1 country hit - one of 17 across Williams' career - that also climbed to No. 24 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1981.

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Williams retired in early 2016 after being forced to cancel a tour due to sickness.

Williams developed an worldwide fan base with followers in England, Ireland, South Africa and Kenya. That same month, the concert CD/DVD package, Don Williams in Ireland: The Gentle Giant in Concert, was released, featuring an onstage performance from the Emerald Isle.

"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. After befriending Burt Reynolds, he had a small part in 1980's Smokey and the Bandit II alongside other country stars Mel Tillis and the Statler Brothers.

According to The Tennessean, artists like Dierks Bentley, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton covered Williams' biggest hits on a tribute album, "Gentle Giants", earlier this year.

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