Don Williams, Laid-Back Country Legend, Is Dead At 78

Don Williams, Laid-Back Country Legend, Is Dead At 78

Country music legend Don Williams is dead at 78.

"Don Williams offered calm, beauty, and a sense of wistful peace that is in short supply these days", said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, in a statement Friday.

His final release in his life time was a live CD/DVD recording from Ireland, which was released a year ago. But the artists themselves certainly never forgot him, with Keith Urban, for one, having cited Williams as "probably my favorite male country singer of all time". He topped the chart that year with "It Must Be Love" and "Love Me Over Again", and recorded the 1981 crossover hit "I Believe in You", which hit No. 24 on the Hot 100 in addition to hitting the top of Hot Country Songs. 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.

In 2016 unexpected hip surgery forced Williams to cancel tour dates, and he announced his retirement a month later.

Williams developed an worldwide fan base with followers in England, Ireland, South Africa and Kenya.

Williams earned the nickname "The Gentle Giant" in the early 1980s thanks to a combination of his tall frame, deep voice and mellow music.

From 1974-1991, each Williams single hit the Top-40 on the Billboard Country charts.

He said: "Sad about Don Williams but Troy Gentry was my friend". Though known for being very low-key and soft spoken, Williams did make two movie appearances - 1974's W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings, and 1980's Smokey and the Bandit II. "I'm so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support". His last studio album came out in 2014 and he was the subject of a tribute album this year that included performances of his hits by Lady Antebellum, Garth Brooks and Chris Stapleton.