Don Williams Biography

27 May 1939, Floydada, Texas, USA. Williams’ father was a mechanic whose job took him to other regions and much of his childhood was spent in Corpus Christi, Texas. Williams’ mother played guitar and he grew up listening to country music. He and Lofton Kline formed a semi-professional folk group called the Strangers Two, and then, with the addition of Susan Taylor, they became the Pozo-Seco Singers, the phrase being a geological term to denote a dry well. Handled by Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, they had US pop hits with ‘Time’, ‘I Can Make It With You’ and ‘Look What You’ve Done’. Following Lofton Kline’s departure, they employed several replacements, resulting in a lack of direction, and they were as likely to record ‘Green Green Grass Of Home’ as ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. After Williams had failed to turn the trio towards country music, they disbanded in 1971.

He then worked for his father-in-law but also wrote for Susan Taylor’s solo album via Jack Clement’s music publishing company. Clement asked Williams to record albums of his company’s best songs, mainly with a view to attracting other performers. In 1973 Don Williams, Volume 1 was released on the fledgling JMI label and included such memorable songs as Bob McDill’s apologia for growing old, ‘Amanda’, and Williams’ own ‘The Shelter Of Your Eyes’. Both became US country hits and JMI could hardly complain when Tommy Cash and then Waylon Jennings released ‘I Recall A Gypsy Woman’, thus depriving Williams of a certain winner (in the UK, Williams’ version made number 13, his biggest success). Williams’ work was reissued by Dot Records and Don Williams, Volume 2 included ‘Atta Way To Go’ and ‘We Should Be Together’. Williams then had a country number 1 with Wayland Holyfield’s ‘You’re My Best Friend’, which has become a standard and is the perennial singalong anthem at his concerts. By now, the Williams style had developed: gently paced love songs with straightforward arrangements, lyrics and sentiments. Williams was mining the same vein as Jim Reeves but he eschewed Reeves’ smartness by dressing like a ranch-hand. Besides having a huge contingent of female fans, Williams counted Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend among his admirers.

Clapton recorded his country hit ‘Tulsa Time’, written by Danny Flowers from Williams’ Scratch Band. The Scratch Band released their own album, produced by Williams, in 1982. Williams played a band member himself in the Burt Reynolds film W.W. And The Dixie Dancekings and also appeared in Smokey And The Bandit 2. Williams’ other successes include ‘Till The Rivers All Run Dry’, ‘Some Broken Hearts Never Mend’, ‘Lay Down Beside Me’ and his only US Top 30 pop hit, ‘I Believe In You’. Unlike most established country artists, he has not sought duet partners, although he and Emmylou Harris found success with an easy-paced version of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘If I Needed You’. Williams’ best record is with Bob McDill’s homage to his southern roots, ‘Good Ol’ Boys Like Me’. Moving to Capitol Records in the mid-80s, Williams released such singles as ‘Heartbeat In The Darkness’ and ‘Senorita’, but the material was not as impressive. He took a sabbatical in 1988 but subsequent RCA Records recordings, which include ‘I’ve Been Loved By The Best’, showed that nothing had changed. The best of Williams’ most recent work, the sombre Flatlands, was released on the Carlton label. He continues to be a major concert attraction, maintaining his stress-free style. When interviewed, Williams gives the impression of being a contented man who takes life as he finds it. He is a rare being - a country star who is free of controversy.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.