The Country Music world mourns the loss of one of its most distinctive song stylists with the passing of Don Williams . He died on Friday at the age of 78 after a short illness. He is one of the biggest stars of the 1970s and 1980s.
Williams, known as “the Gentle Giant” because of his 6-foot, 1-inch frame, mellow voice and low-key profile, had hits with Tulsa Time, I Believe in You and It Must Be Love over the course of a 50-year career.
He died on the same day as Troy Gentry, one half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry, who was killed in a helicopter crash in New Jersey.
“2 legends lost at once. Troy Gentry and Don Williams will be missed so much. Praying for their families and may they rest in peace,” country-pop band Big & Rich wrote on Twitter.
The statement announcing his passing said Williams died of an undisclosed illness but gave no further details.
Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 and released his last studio album, “Reflections,” in 2014.
Two years later, he announced his retirement from touring, saying it was “time to hang up my hat and enjoy some quiet time at home.”
Williams was a big influence on other musicians, spanning country to rock. Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend were among those who have recorded his music.
In 2016, Williams decided that the time was right for his final performance, calling it a career after one of the most successful careers in the history of the Country Music business. “It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support,” the 76-year-old Williams said in a statement at the time. Last year also saw the final release of Williams’ career, a live CD and DVD recorded in Ireland. In 2017, the singer was the subject of a tribute album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams, that included performances of his hits by artists such as Lady Antebellum and Garth Brooks.