Country music great Don Williams has died after a short illness, his publicist announced Friday afternoon.
Williams is survived by his wife Joy, songs Gary and Timmy, three grandsons and one granddaughter.
By the early seventies, he made it to Nashville and landed a songwriting deal with fellow Country Music Hall of Famer "Cowboy" Jack Clement. Even many of his hits, like "It Must Be Love" were low-key.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but was forced by bronchitis to miss the ceremony - something his manager admitted probably suited him just fine, anyway, since Williams felt uncomfortable in the limelight.
His final release in his life time was a live CD/DVD recording from Ireland, which was released previous year.
The next year would see Williams' recording contract be absorbed by MCA Records, but there was no slowdown in his success rate. An internationally popular country star, Williams recorded dozens of hit songs, including "Tulsa Time", "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good" and "It Must Be Love".
Williams developed an global fan base with followers in England, Ireland, South Africa and Kenya.
His biggest hit, though, came in 1981 with "I Believe in You", which reached the top of the country charts and No. 24 on the Hot 100. "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, which was also included in the news release about his passing.
Williams, nicknamed "the Gentle Giant", had a rich voice, gentle delivery and storytelling style. "It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home". Not more than a year later Williams' legacy spurred a tribute album, The Gentle Giant, featuring covers of his songs by Garth Brooks, Keb' Mo', Chris Stapleton and Trisha Yearwood, among others.
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