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County Music Great Don Williams Passes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CelebrityAccess) — Don Williams a country music legend known as the "Gentle Giant" has died after a short illness. He was 78.

His publicist, Kirt Webster, told the New York Times that Williams died from emphysema.

A native of Floydada, Texas, Williams was raised in Portland, Texas and began performing at an early age, winning a talent competition at the tender age of three. He began playing guitar while a teenager and performed with local bands.

While living in Corpus Christi in 1964, he formed the folk-styled trio The Pozo Seco Singers with Lofton Cline and Susan Taylor. They stayed together for seven years, scoring their most notable hit in 1966 with “Time,” which peaked at #47 on the U.S. pop charts.

In 1971, Williams launched a solo career after moving to Nashville and landed a songwriting contract with a publishing company owned by "Cowboy" Jack Clement and then a recording deal with Clement's JMI Records. Williams's first chart success came with his debut album "Don Williams Volume One" which peaked at #5 on the Billboard US country chart.

Williams' initial success was not a fluke and each single he released until 1991 cracked the top 40 on the Billboard Country charts.

Outside of the studio, Williams also continued to tour for decades, with his final tour in 2010.

In 2016, Williams decided that the time was right for his final performance, calling it a career after one of the most successful runs 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," Williams said at the time.

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.

Other accolades for Williams include winning the Academy Of Country Music Single Record of the Year for his 1978 hit "Tulsa Time" and a Country Music Association award for Male Vocalist of the Year in 1978.

In 2010, Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

His survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Joy Bucher; two sons and four grandchildren.