singer Don Gibson dies
Country Music Hall Of Fame
Don Gibson, an elementary school dropout who
wrote and recorded country standards like "I Can't Stop Loving
You", has died, his lawyer said. He was 75.
Gibson died at Baptist Hospital, said Richard
Frank, who is also a longtime friend of the Grand Ole Opry star.
Gibson's songs used plain language and
riveting melodies to communicate strong emotions. He sang in a rich
baritone and usually wrote about solitude and sadness involving love,
earning him the nickname "the sad poet".
"Simple is the only way I can
write," he once said.
Gibson was inducted into the Country Music
Hall of Fame in 2001.
Born on April 3, 1928, Gibson was a poor boy
from Shelby, North Carolina, who dropped out of school in second grade.
But he became a songwriting genius who sold millions of records.
"The only thing I was any good at was
music," he said in a 1997 interview.
Between 1958 and the mid-1960s, Gibson's
records and his compositions, including Sweet Dreams and Oh Lonesome Me,
were hits for himself and many other performers.
I Can't Stop Loving You was recorded by more
than 700 artists, but Ray Charles had the big pop version in 1962.
Gibson and others helped create the
"Nashville Sound" in the 1960s - clean, uncluttered music that
remains an influence.
Somewhere along the way, the moody, shy kid
from a sharecropping family began playing guitar. When a friend came home
from Paris after World War II with records by the jazz guitarist Django
Reinhardt, Gibson was captivated, and was experimenting with different
styles by his mid-teens.
A friend helped him land a performing job with
a Knoxville radio station. But things weren't what Gibson expected: The
fans wanted old-time country, not Gibson's brand of crooning.
Gibson hung on to the radio job but struggled
on $US30 a week earned playing beer joints. One day after a radio show,
Gibson started humming a melody and playing with words - not writing
anything down at first, just seeing where the tune would lead.
It was the beginning of a classic - the
haunting Sweet Dreams, made famous by Australian Patsy Cline in 1963.
On June 7, 1957, he wrote two of country
music's greatest songs: I Can't Stop Loving You and Oh Lonesome Me.
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