September 8, 2017 7:16 pm

Don Williams, ‘gentle giant’ of country music, dead at 78

Don Williams performs during the All for the Hall concert in Nashville, Tenn., April 10, 2012. . Williams, an award-winning country singer with love ballads like "I Believe in You," died Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, after a short illness. He was 78. ()

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Country music icon Don Williams has passed away following a short illness. He was 78.

A popular performer and gifted songwriter, Williams was nicknamed country music’s “Gentle Giant,” and enjoyed a successful career that spanned six decades.

Born in Floydada, Texas, Williams headed to Nashville in the late 1960s and began his career as a songwriter, but soon found popularity as a performer, ultimately landing 17 #1 hits on the country charts.

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During the 1970s, Williams was one of the first country artists to cross over into the pop music mainstream, becoming one of the biggest country artists in the world thanks to such hits as “Tulsa Time”, which also became a top-30 hit for Eric Clapton.

Williams’ final performance was in 2016, after which he retired, declaring at the time that it was “time to hang up my hat and enjoy some quiet time at home,” adding: “I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support.”

News of Williams’ death was greeted with social media tributes from such famous fans as Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Ricky Scaggs and more.

© 2017 Entertainment Tonight Canada, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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