US country music star Don Williams dies at 78

Don Williams was popular for smooth bass-baritone voice country music
Don Williams was popular for smooth bass-baritone voice country music

US country music singer Don Williams – who enjoyed great success with his easy-going singing style – has died aged 78 after a short illness.

Williams began his solo career in 1971, amassing 17 number one country hits.

His songs such as Gypsy Woman and Tulsa Time, were covered by singers such as Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend.

Williams was known as the gentle giant of country music.

Another country star, Troy Gentry, also died on Friday in a helicopter crash.

Williams’ other hits included You’re My Best Friend, I Believe in You and Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.

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

The news of the death of 50-year-old Troy Gentry has shocked country music fans and artists.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm that Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo, Montgomery Gentry, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash which took place at approximately 1:00pm today in Medford, New Jersey,” a statement of the band’s website said.

The helicopter’s pilot also died in the incident, but the reasons for the crash remain unclear.

The country duo, who were brothers, formed in 1999 and had released eight studio albums.

Country music stars including Sheryl Crow paid tribute to Gentry on social media.

Grammy award-winning Singer Brad Paisley said he was “heartbroken and in disbelief” at the news of Gentry’s death in a Friday night tweet.

Born Donald Ray Williams, he was the youngest of three sons on May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas.

His parents were Loveta Mae née Lambert and James Andrew “Jim” Williams.

He grew up in Portland, Texas and graduated from Gregory-Portland High School in 1958.

After Williams’ parents divorced, Loveta Williams remarried first to Chester Lang, and then to Robert Bevers.

Williams would suffer a personal tragedy on July 20, 1963, when his eldest brother Kenneth was accidentally electrocuted and killed after coming in contact with a live wire.

He was only twenty-nine-years-old.

Prior to forming the folk-pop group Pozo-Seco Singers, Williams served in the US army for two years after which worked odd jobs supporting himself.

It was with the group the Pozo-Seco Singers that Williams alongside Susan Taylor and Lofton Cline would record several records for Columbia Records where he would remain until 1969.

This would ultimately culminate in the Pozo-Seco Singers disbanding in 1970.