Don Williams Dead - Country Singer Dies at 78

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Country music lost two stars Friday when a helicopter crash killed Troy Gentry, half of the Montgomery Gentry duo.

Country Music Hall Of Fame member Don Williams has died aged 78. In fact, each single he released from 1974 through 1991 hit no lower than No. 22 on the Hot Country Songs chart, including the late-'70s No. 1s "Say It Again" and "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend", which led to his being named as the Male Vocalist of the Year in 1978 by the Country Music Association. Even many of his hits, like "It Must Be Love" were low-key.

Williams was inducted in to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 after beginning his music career in 1971. Eric Clapton took his version of "Tulsa Time" to rock audiences, while halfway across the world, Australian youngster Keith Urban was inspired to pursue his dreams in Nashville after reading about Music City on the back of Don Williams records.

Williams reportedly died after a short illness. His 1970s hits included such chart toppers as "Tulsa Time", "She Never Knew Me", and "It Must Be Love".

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The next year would see Williams' recording contract be absorbed by MCA Records, but there was no slowdown in his success rate. He toured internationally, including in Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland. That same year, he reached the pop Top Forty with the tender "I Believe in You", Between 1974 and 1991, of the almost 50 singles he released, first on Dot, then ABC/Dot - which would become MCA - then Capitol and finally RCA, all but three reached the Top Ten.

Williams' "Gentle Giant" nickname came from both his towering stature, as well as his smooth, easygoing singing style. "It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home", he said. "I am so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support".

Garth Brooks and Lady Antebellum were among the artists featured on "Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams", a tribute album that came out earlier this year.

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