Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams has passed away at the age of 78, after a short illness.
The 78-year-old "Gentle Giant " Texas native began his music career in the 1960s, but went solo in 1971. "He racked up over a dozen #1 country hits in the '70s and '80s, including "Tulsa Time", "I Believe in You", "'Til the Rivers All Run Dry" and "You're My Best Friend".
One of Williams' greatest accomplishments was seeing each one of his singles hit the Top-40 on the Billboard Country charts from 1974 to 1991.
In 2016, Williams had his final performance.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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His 1981 duet of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You" with Emmylou Harris remains a staple in the world of folk music.
Williams was born May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas, growing up in nearby Portland. Even many of his hits, like "It Must Be Love" were low-key. Williams was consistently an worldwide ambassador of country music, earning a massive following in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as Australia and Africa. In 1978, he won male vocalist of the year honors from the Country Music Association.
He also made appearances in two movies - 1974's W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings and 1980's Smokey and the Bandit II. By that time, he had released more than 35 albums.
Turn on Houston's Country Legends 97.1 right now, and it's a safe bet one of Williams songs' will come on before the hour is up. A special tribute to the longtime Grand Ole Opry member was also performed on the Opry stage just days after that album was released. By this time, he had earned the nickname "The Gentle Giant" for his trademark mellow sound, and the hits continued to pile up throughout the rest of the decade - "Stay Young", "If Hollywood Don't Need You", and "One Good Well" being three of his biggest of the 1980s.