Country music star Don Williams dies at age 78

Photo courtesy of Webster Public Relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Don Williams died Friday after a short illness at age 78.

Williams was born May 27, 1939, and was a native of Floydada, Texas. Williams entered and won a talent contest when he was just three years old, for which he received an alarm clock. Williams began playing guitar in his teenage years, learning songs he had heard on the radio. He married his wife Joy Bucher on April 10, 1960.

Williams had two sons, Gary and Timmy, and worked at a number of odd jobs, including old field work and bill collecting.

While living in Corpus Christi in 1964, Williams formed the folk-syle trio The Pozo Seco Singers with Lofton Cline and Susan Taylor. The group stayed together for seven years and recorded their biggest hit "Time."

The group disbanded in 1969, and Williams moved to Nashville, where by 1971, he had a songwriting contract. Williams made his chart debut with "The Shelter of Your Eyes" in 1973, and he was soon hitting the charts multiple times. Williams topped the charts in 1974 with "I Wouldn't Want to Live if You Didn't Love Me." From that point through 1991, each Williams single would hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Country charts.

Williams continued concert tours to sold-out crowds around the world until his final tour in 2006. He returned to the road in 2010, the same year he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Williams had his final performance.

"It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home," the 76-year-old said in a statement in 2016. "I'm so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support."

Last year, Williams released his final live CD and DVD recorded in Ireland, and in 2017, he was the subject of a tribute album Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams, which included performances of his hits by artists like Lady Antebellum and Garth Brooks.