Whatever Happened To The ‘Gentle Giant’ Don Williams?
It was 1979, maybe in 1980. I was working at KKAA in Aberdeen, South Dakota and Don Williams was coming to town.
At the time Don was one of the biggest Country Music Stars in the world. With 10 Number one hits already under his belt (and another dozen or so to come) there was no question that he was destined to become a member of the hallowed Country Music Hall of Fame (which he was inducted into in 2010). And he was coming to Northeast South Dakota.
The concert, as I recall, was held on the campus of Northern State. Interestingly, while Don was without a doubt a 'country' artist, he was one of those that was HUGE with college kids.
And the concert? Stunning. And all it was was, as evidenced in the video above, Don sitting on a stool and...singing. With a few backing musicians, he just sang with that beautiful voice and had the audience, as they say, in the palm of his hand. Hit after beautiful hit after beautiful hit. That's all.
A lot of country artists in the current day utilize a lot of what I call whiz-boom-bang with their shows, and there's nothing wrong with that. I've been to some great concerts over the years that had a whole lot of pyrotechnics and ....flash.
Don Williams was the opposite of that. The sparseness was the greatness. And the greatness was the talent. Nothing was hidden or overridden by distractions. It was pure 'Gentle Giant'.
Oh, and why was Don Williams famously known as The Gentle Giant? Some say it was his stature, although he wasn't a physical giant at 6'1". I'm in the camp that believes it's because of the music. Almost all of it gentle and, most importantly, moving. One of his greatest hits, 'Tulsa Time', was about as wild as Don got.
So whatever happened to Don Williams?
Well, in March 2016 Don decided to retire from performing with, typically, a simple statement:
"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."
The Gentle Giant passed away on September 8, 2017, in Mobile, Alabama.
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