Strictly Country Magazine logo

Strictly Country Magazine Don Williams title

The Gentle Giant Rests…

 

By: Gina Kay Singerhouse

Editor

 

   We never really know a person, until they pass on.  It is then that we gather with others, who knew the person, to share stories of the deceased.  We laugh and we cry; but most of all we finally learn who the person really was in life.

   This is the case with Country Music entertainer Don Williams.  Sure I could go into the statistics of his career as he gained much success through out the years.  Nonetheless, it is his life I wish to tell you about...

 

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should 
But Lord, I hope this day is good

 

   Donald Ray Williams was born on May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas.  He was the youngest of three children of James Andrew Williams and Loveta Mae (nee Lambert).  The first part of Don’s life was spent traveling with his family before they finally settled in Portland, Texas.

   It was just before his teenage years, that his Mother taught him to play the guitar.  Although his musical tastes were mainly Country Music, he also enjoyed the talents of early rock-n-roll from entertainers like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

   After he graduated from high school, he joined the United States Army.  In the two years that he served, he had met his wife Joy Bucher.  The two married on April 10, 1960, and would eventually grow their family by adding two sons—Gary and Timmy.

 

Lord, have you forgotten me
I've been prayin' to you faithfully
I'm not sayin' I'm a righteous man
But Lord, I hope you understand

 

   After leaving the Army, with an honorable discharge, Williams worked several odd jobs to help support his growing family.  These jobs included driving a bread truck and working in the Texas oil fields.  By day he was a hard working man, but by night he worked hard on his music with his friend Lofton Kline.  The two musicians began singing at local bars and booked themselves as the Strangers Two.

   In 1964, Williams and Kline were on the same bill as musician Susan Taylor at a college dance.  The three joined musical forces to form a trio called the Pozo Seco Singers.  One year later, the trio earned a Top 10 hit with their song “Time.”  The group went on to earn a few more minor hits that led them to perform in lounges and rowdy dance halls.  It was these venues that Williams grew to detest. 

 

I don't need fortune and I don't need fame
Send down the thunder Lord, send down the rain
But when you're planning just how it will be
Plan a good day for me

 

   The group disbanded and went their separate ways in 1971.  Don quit his musical endeavors to open a furniture store with his father-in-law.  However, that did not last.  One year later, he was back into creating music.

   His time with the Pozo Seco Singers was not at all a waste of time and energy.  Williams learned many valuable lessons about the music industry with his time in the group.  Perhaps the most valued lesson that Don learned was the knowledge behind music industry promotional campaigns.  Don was a private person who grew to dislike these campaigns as they often invaded his privacy.

   “It was real canned—the song order, what I said, how the others reacted.” shares Don (Playboy 1978).  “It just cut the heart out of it for me.  I swore I’d never paint myself into that corner again.”

   Don Williams was not in the music industry for fame, fortune and or power.  In fact he was only in it for the music.  He appreciated music for the art form that it is and not the job that many want.

   Eventually, Don ended up in Nashville as a songwriter. With a box full of songs, Don was hired by Jack Clement’s company called Jack Music Publishing.  His job was to write songs and try to sell them to other artists to record them.  At the time, Williams’ songs were quite different then the norm in country music and it was difficult to get anyone to record them. However, he believed so much in his self-penned songs that he decided to record them himself.  Thus began his solo career in the music industry.

 

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should 
But Lord, I hope this day is good

 

   Throughout his career, Don Williams entertained us with songs like “You’re My Best Friend,” “Some Broken Hearts Never End,” “’Till The Rivers All Run Dry,” “Louisiana Saturday Night,” “Say It Again,” “Amanda,” “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” “Country Boy,” “She Never Knew Me,” “Tulsa Time,” “I Believe In You,” “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” “(Turn Out The Lights And) Love Me Tonight,” “If Hollywood Don’t Need You (Honey, I Still Do),” and the ever popular hit “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.”  His musical career allowed him to cross over to the big screen where he appeared in the Burt Reynolds movie W.W. And The Dixie Dancekings.  He also made an appearance as himself in the ever popular movie Smokey And The Bandit II.

   Nonetheless, he was a quite man who was large in stature but a gentle soul that earned him the title “Gentle Giant.”  A soul who was able to touch the hearts of many listeners world wide through his music.  He had a huge following in England and Ireland and his shows here in the states were often sold out, despite the fact that radio rarely played his music.

   “Classically speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to talk about the same things that other country artists want to talk about in their music.  I try not to be taken in by whatever the going gimmick is.  The main things I’ve always been concerned with in my music and my songwriting, more than anything else, are people’s feelings for each other, rather than triangle situations or sittin’ down in a bar to drink your blues away.” shared Don Williams in a 1979 article.  “To me, country music is not a form of music that deals with things that are extremely controversial or profane or anything else that would make it a radical extremist form of music.  My idea of country music is as a family form of entertainment.  I just try to make country music the way I like to hear country music.”

 

You've been the king since the dawn of time
All that I'm asking is a little less crime
It might be hard for the devil to do
But it would be easy for you

 

   Don Williams was as laid back as any country music entertainer could be.  His persona was down to earth as he never dressed up for the occasion of performing.  His stage presence was folksy, intimate and relaxed as he usually dressed in faded blue jeans, denim jacket and worn out hat that was designed for him when he appeared in the Burt Reynolds movie.

   “Apart from whatever needs I have to take care of, I try to spend as little time as possible in the music business.” shared Don in a CMA interview.  “Because when I’m working, I give it everything I’ve got, and when I’m home I try to give my family my undivided attention.

   “But the music itself keeps me in this business.  It’s the only thing I have done in my life as far as work is concerned that I have never really felt blasé about.  I really do believe if I ever get to that point I’ll just hang it up.  There are times when I work on the road that I get hard-pressed to feel what I’m doing.  When that happens, I am always left with the idea that I have cheated everybody.  It just doesn’t feel honest.  I wanna feel honest about what I’m doing, so as a result I don’t do a lot of road work.”

   In fact, the industry was always surprised as to how limited Don Williams would tour.  But when he did hit the road, he gave all he had to sold out performances.

   Williams was not an entertainer who used the stage to promote his beliefs or to take actions.  In fact, he disliked those who did.

   “I’ve never believed in mixing platforms, because the way I see it, most people have paid their money to hear the songs.  And for me to use the stage to air out religious or political views could be very compromising.”

   After nearly sixty years in the music industry, Don Williams announced that he was retiring from the music industry in a statement released in March 2016.

   “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.”

  

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should 
But Lord, I hope this day is good

 

   On September 8, 2017, the country music community was shocked to hear the news that the Gentle Giant that we have come to know as Don Williams had passed away in Mobile, Alabama.  The cause of death was due to illness called Emphysema.

   The music world will never know a man, an entertainer like Don.  He was not in it for the fame, fortune and or glory as most people are in it today.  He was in it for the music and how he could touch people through song.  He believed in the music and the influence of it.  Perhaps, through his death the industry can regain the heart and soul that it once had…

 

But Lord, I hope this day is good

Share on Facebook

Don Williams

Click here to visit official website

Don Williams performing

Click here to shop

© 1993 - 2017 Strictly Country Magazine
All Items contained on this site may not be used without written permission.
All Rights Reserved

      Lokey