Born May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas; son of a mechanic; married Joy (Bucher) Williams, 1960; children: Gary and Tim. Religion: Church of Christ. Addresses: Office-- Hallmark Direction, 15 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203. Record company-- Capitol Records, 38 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203.

Country artist Don Williams is "a reluctant superstar," according to John Morthland in Country Music. "The songs that have made him successful," lauded Dick J. Reavis in Texas Monthly, "are as strong and warm as morning coffee," but due to Williams's preferences of shunning publicity and keeping his touring to a minimum, he remains what Reavis described as "a mid-level star." Nevertheless the singer-songwriter has released at least twenty albums, scored hits like "Amanda," "Some Broken Hearts Never End," and "I Wouldn't Want to Live If You Didn't Love Me," and was voted Male Vocalist of the Year in 1979 by the Country Music Association of America. In addition to many such honors in the country genre, Morthland claimed in another review that "Williams is one of the uncredited creators of ... 'New Age' music" with his "spare, acoustic sound."

Williams was born May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas. His father was a mechanic, but his mother was musical and taught him how to play the guitar by the time he was twelve. Though he always enjoyed country music, Williams as a young man also liked the sounds of rock and roll stars such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. But he didn't begin to work on performing as a career until after serving in the U.S. Army for two years. While supporting himself with odd jobs in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, including driving a truck and working in oil fields, Williams and a friend named Lofton Kline started singing in bars as the Strangers Two.

One night the duo played a college dance and found themselves on the same bill with singer Susan Taylor. The three became acquainted, and Taylor joined Williams and Kline to form a folk trio. Calling themselves the Pozo Seco Singers, they released a single, "Time," on an independent label. The song became a hit in their home state, and led them to a recording contract with Columbia Records. By 1966, "Time" had become a national hit. Though the Pozo Seco Singers had only the smallest, local hits afterwards, they stayed together for over five years. Reavis reflected that the group's biggest drawback was that they were "mellow to a fault"; he went on to explain that their sound "lacked the accusatory edge that lifted [folk artists] Bob Dylan and Joan Baez above the ranks." Despite the honor of being asked to sing at President Lyndon Johnson's ranch in 1968, by the dawn of the 1970s Williams and his friends were reduced to singing in rowdy bars. Disgusted with this type of audience, Williams gave up the group in 1971 to open a furniture store with his father-in-law.

But he was not contented with that life, and the following year Williams went to Nashville, Tennessee, seeking work as a songwriter. He was hired both to write and to try to sell songs to country artists by Jack Music Publishing. After only a short time of having these artists almost buy his songs but reject them because they were afraid that his work was just too different to be popular with country fans, Williams heeded their advice about recording them himself. He signed with JMI Records, which, like Jack Music, belonged to Jack Clement. Though he did perform his own compositions, he did not restrict himself to them. Williams's solo debut album, Don Williams, Volume One, featured the now-classic "Amanda," which also became a hit for Waylon Jennings, and another successful single, "In the Shelter of Your Eyes." Following the release of Don Williams, Volume Two, though, JMI went out of business, and Williams signed with ABC/Dot Records. When the latter company merged with MCA Records in 1978, Williams stayed on, scoring hits with them such as "You're My Best Friend," "Till the Rivers All Run Dry," and "Tulsa Time." The last was voted Single Record of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 1979.

No matter what company Williams has recorded with during his solo career, however, he has always maintained tight artistic control. As Reavis reported, "he refuse(s) to consider singing any songs about fighting, marital infidelity, or drinking." Apparently it is not so much to take a high moral tone as to be true to his own experiences; Williams told Reavis: "I've never really done those things, they haven't been a part of my life, so I guess I just don't relate to them very well." Instead he prefers love ballads, or songs that tell a story. And according to Morthland, Williams "sifts through 50 to 100 songs for each one of the 15 he records for an album before picking the final 10." Williams also remains in control of his concert appearances. Not only does he limit himself to approximately forty dates a year, but "if he notice(s) people in his audience openly smoking marijuana, he [asks] them to leave," Reavis affirmed. Williams even disbanded his own fan club to protect his privacy and that of his family, and because he simply doesn't believe in them. He told Reavis: "I just don't believe that you've got to know Henry to drive a Ford."

Despite his deliberate distance from the spotlight, Williams continues to satisfy country fans. His 1987 album Traces included songs such as "Old Coyote Town," "Till I Can't Take It Anymore," and "Come From the Heart." Morthland, while faulting the quality of some of the material--Williams no longer writes his own songs--concluded that Traces makes it "clear why" fans "keep coming back for more."

by Elizabeth Thomas

Don Williams's Career

Country vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter; served in the U.S. Army, c. 1957-59; sang with Lofton Kline as the Strangers Two during the early 1960s; also worked odd jobs such as driving a bread truck, collecting bills, and working in the oil fields; sang with Kline and Susan Taylor as the Pozo Seco Singers, 1964-71; co-owned a furniture store, 1971; signed as a songwriter and song salesman for Jack Music Publishing in Nashville, Tenn., 1972; recording artist and concert performer, 1972--. Appeared in film W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings.

Don Williams's Awards

Voted Male Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association, 1978; "Tulsa Time" voted Record of the Year by Academy of Country Music, 1979; CMA of Great Britain voted Williams both Male Singer and Performer of the Year, 1975, and voted You're My Best Friend Album of the Year, 1975.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

almost 5 years ago

Thank you Don & Joy for the part you have had in our lives. We pray for a quick & complete recovery.

about 5 years ago

His Song makes my Heart Melt, Even when i am somehow depressed, his Song just makes me smile. LOVE YOU- DON WILLIAMS, If HE Could just come to Nigeria. More than a galaxy of FANS Waiting for him.

over 5 years ago

hai don fans! i came to know of Don in 1983 when my brothers bought records of him like "the very best of Don Williams" and if Don was easy to contact, I would tell him to visit ZAMBIA and see a sand shore of fans coming to his concert! I know he came to neighboring ZIMBABWE but let him come and honor us here before he is history like anybody can be. wish him the best in 2012. I have all his songs on my mp3 player! GOD HAVE MERCY!!!!!

over 5 years ago

I can tell you one thing and I have been around a little while. I grew up right here in the Great Smokey Mtns of Tennessee and even grew up pickin a little music here locally with my dad. NO ONE HAS HEART IN THIER MUSIC LIKE DON WILLIAMS. MY WIFE EVEN SAYS ME AND DON WILLIAMS ARE ALIKE MEANING HEART FELT AND HONEST WITH YOURSELF. DON WILLIAMS MUSIC AND SONGS IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A BLESSING TO ME.

over 5 years ago

in fact it was back in late 80 when I herd the golden voice,easy to listen and filled with deep emotional overhole for me. Back then just left my country(africa) to neighboring country and poor, just know little english and struggling to connect. in fact for me it was a sense of healing, connecting to the new world. 34years after, i still drawn deep knowing what a wonderful good song writer, one of among few golden gifted voiced country singer and choose to live never than simple life and wonderful personality. he is still remembered and never forgotten as one the best golden voice singer and for whom he was connected to. Now I live Canada, fortunate to know his music world again

over 5 years ago

It was and it will always be the deepest emotional overhole for me to listen to Don Williams songs. eversince I was young when my father introduce Don's music I together with my siblings were entangled by country music. Don Williams is popular in Asia too.

over 5 years ago

Just want to say what a wonderful voice, so full of love and hope. My mother was a huge Don Williams fan, this is where I got to love his music. So sad that I may never have the opportunity of seeing Mr. Williams sing live in South Africa. While there is breath in your body Mr. Williams please continue recording and making us happy. Lots of admiration and love. Marlene

over 5 years ago

His music makes a person wonder how great the love of his life is, to have that type of dedication. If only we could all know that type of love.

about 8 years ago

Hi Just want to say THANKS to my Mentor 'DON WILLIAMS' he is the inspiration behind my Career, his Warmth and Sincerity enthrauls all. My regret is "I hav'nt seen a live Concert"!! I Strive to show people here 'over in England' how Brilliant DON's music really is, "he has a tremendous following over here" My New Show pays Tribute and Respect to this Great man www.the-singer.co.uk/country/html B.T

about 8 years ago

I will forever be grateful to my husband for introducing me to Don William's music. I admire his gentleness and character. His voice makes me melt and he is unsurpassed as a singer. He is my favorite singer and hlis songs bring joy and emotion always.

about 8 years ago

I want Don Williams to know how thankful I am that my husband got me into his music. He is my favortie singer and I admire his gentleness and character so very much. No one compares to him, and I am eternally grateful to my hubby for introducing me to his songs and unsurpassed voice.

about 8 years ago

'Time' is on the album, Harmony.

about 8 years ago

I attended a Don Williams concert in Tyler Texas about 2000. He sang a song titled "TIME". I can find the lyrics, but cannot find it on a cd. If he put it on a cd. PLEASE tell me which one. Thanks Wes

about 9 years ago

My hubby & I spent a lot of time listening to Don Williams. My hubby often sang along with the radio to his music (singing to me) as so many of Don's songs were about loving someone.We loved him because he was a down home country boy, didn't need the bells & whistles that came with later stars. I lost my hubby of 45 years a little over a year ago.He had a masive brain tumor. I recently ordered the Definitive Collection and played it today. Had several good crys over that!! But it brought back a lot of good memories.I thank him for old fashioned love songs. Would like to contact him to let him know how much his music meant to us.

about 9 years ago

I love Don Williams' work. It's so rare for an artist to be true to themselves and their vision and their families. He has done all of those and donates his time to various charities. I knew nothing of his work until I went to college with his son with whom I was in a band. I fell in love with his duet with Emmylou and with his considerable work. I just had the best time listening to all his classics on youtube.com Someone has posted lots and lots of videos of him and it as a great walk down memory lane! Best to you and your family Don! WE LOVE YOU! Your voice is like honey!

over 9 years ago

I served in the U.S. Army with Don Williams. I was living in a quonset hut at Chitose, Japan about 1959 when Don and two of his buddies moved in. Don used to play his guitar and sing for us free of charge in the barracks. We got him and his two buddies to play for us at the NCO club at a party. The NCO club manager liked him and wanted to hire him to play on a regular basis. However, the mgr only wanted Don, not the buddies. Don refused unless he hired all three. The mgr reconsidered and hired his buddies as well to get Don. Sounds like Don has not changed all that much.