Country star Don Williams dead at 78

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Don Williams performs at the 49th Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards at the Gaylord Opryland Resort on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Don Williams, an award-winning country singer with love ballads like “I Believe in You,” has died. He was 78.

A statement from his publicist said he died Friday after a short illness.

Williams had 17 No. 1 hits and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010. His mellow sound influenced a later generation of singers including Joe Nichols and Josh Turner.

Williams, nicknamed “the Gentle Giant,” had a rich voice, gentle delivery and storytelling style.

His hits included “I Believe in You,” ”Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” ”You’re My Best Friend,” ”Some Broken Hearts Never Mend,” ”Till the Rivers All Run Dry” and “Back in My Younger Days.”

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