Death announced of country singer Don Williams

Image courtesy of Webster Public Relations

Williams, who became known as "The Gentle Giant" for his humble and soft-spoken demeanor, landed his biggest hit in 1981 with "I Believe In You".

He has 17 number one country hits to his name including beauties such as "It Must Be Love", "Tulsa Time", "Amanda", "Good Old Boys Like Me", "I believe In Love", and "Rake And Ramblin' Man", among others.

The helicopter carrying Gentry crashed in a wooded area near the Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey, around 1pm local time Friday. "It's that way with all of his releases!" Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend were among those who have recorded his music.

Williams first found musical success at the age of three, winning a talent contest in his hometown of Portland, Texas. The trio earned two Top 30 hits, "I Can Make It With You" and "Look What You've Done" in late 1966.

Urban's recent single "Blue Ain't Your Color" is heavily influenced by Williams' style - specifically, Urban notes, "that kind of strong downbeat, backbeat and little in-between rhythmic thing". Before long, Williams' laid-back sound caught the ears of radio. Williams had an unlikely global appeal and became one of country's most reliable exports. He wasn't attempting to chase trends - he made mature music for an adult audience, which is an essential element to his appeal. CEO of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Kyle Young said of Williams, "His music will forever be a balm in troublesome times". Once he and Garth Fundis ironed out the wrinkles in his blueprint with 1978's Expressions, he never departed from his easy-going formula.

Signing with a publishing company owned by Jack Clement at first only as a songwriter, he eventually landed a recording contract with Clement's JMI Records.

In 2014, he released his final studio album, "Reflections", which, as always, included a mixture of self-penned material and songs from other greats (in this case, everyone from Merle Haggard to Townes Van Zandt).

He later had a solo career and in the 1970s, had a 15-straight Top 10 hits.

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