Friday, September 8, 2017

Don Williams (1939 -2017)

Donald Ray Williams was born in Floydada, Texas in 1939. He grew up in Portland near Corpus Christi, Texas and learned to play the guitar. His tutor was his mother and Don played in a variety of country, rockabilly, folk, and rock & roll bands as a teenager. In 1964 he formed a band with a friend called Lofton Kline, and Don Williams and Susan Taylor made up the line up of the Pozo-Seco Singers. The folk pop group was signed for Columbia Records and had their first hit in 1966 with "Time."

The group stayed together for the next five years and had other minor hits, including: "I Can Make It With You" and "Look What You've Done.”

Not interested in a solo career Don became a songwriter in Nashville but soon his warm hickory baritone was in demand and he began performing his own work. He signed with JMI and released "Don't You Believe" to critical acclaim in 1972.

The next single "The Shelter of Your Eyes" entered the charts and a string of minor hits followed.

It was "We Should Be Together," and "I Wouldn't Want to Live If You Didn't Love Me," in 1974 which established the ‘Gentle Giant’s a distinguished recording artist.

As a song writer he has concentrated on meaningful lyrics usually recounting a story and needless to say his masterly compositions were recorded by other artists including Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Lefty Frizzell, Sonny James, Lobo, Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers and Pete Townsend and many became hits. In the '70s, Don was considered to be the most successful country artist in the world. In 1978, "Tulsa Time" gave him an international hit.

Keen to explore his other artistic talent, Don began acting, and appeared in several films with his best friend Burt Reynolds. Don appeared in W.W. and the Dixie Dance kings (where the singer got his hat supplied by the Stetson Hat Company of St. Joseph,); and Smokey and the Bandit II.

Throughout his career he was plagued with continuing back problems which forced him to slow down in the 80s. Don kept on working in the studio and had several more hit singles despite changing record labels form MCA Records to Capitol. Back surgery in 1987 cured his problems but his long run of hits came to an end in 1989 with "Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy."

Don Williams retired to his country farm but sometimes performed and kept his hand in too at the recording studio.

Sadly,Don Williams died aged 78 after a short illness in September 2017.

Worth a listen:
We Should Be Together (1974)
You're My Best Friend (1975)
I Wouldn't Want to Live (If You Didn't Love Me) (1974)
Good Ole Boys Like Me,
Love Is On A Roll
In the Family
I Recall a Gypsy Woman
Tulsa Time (1978)
I Believe in You (1981)
Heartbeat in the Darkness (1985)
Lord have mercy on a country boy (1989)

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