Don Williams, the honey-voiced country star known as the "Gentle Giant," has died after a brief illness. He was 78 years old.

Born in Texas in 1939, Williams began his career as a member of the Pozo Seco Singers, a folk trio that placed six hits on the pop charts between 1966 and 1967. Williams a string of hits from 1974 and 1991, including “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” “Till the Rivers All Run Dry,” “It Must Be Love,” “I’m Just a Country Boy,” “Amanda” and “I Believe in You.”

He earned his famous nickname due to his  6’1″ frame. Williams’ mellow baritone voice added to that aura, driving hits including “Tulsa Time,” “Back in My Younger Days,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” and more. He earned the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1978, and “Tulsa Time” took home Record of the Year at the 1979 ACM Awards.

Williams announced his retirement in 2016, saying, "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." That news came just one month after unexpected hip surgery forced Williams to cancel his 2016 tour dates.

2016 also saw the final release of Williams’ career, a live CD and DVD recorded in Ireland. In 2017 Williams was the subject of a tribute album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams. That project included performances of Williams' hits by artists including Lady Antebellum and Garth Brooks.

No cause of death has been announced. Funeral arrangements for Don Williams are pending.

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