Our May Spotlight features Don Williams, an artist who had two successful careers in music. Don was born in 1939 grew up in Texas and started up the first of two successful singing careers in music. Aloing the way, he would amass many hit singles, successful albums, become a successful and beloved artist in the US, Canada, Ireland and England and achieve induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
The first career was that of a folk/rock artist with the Pozo Seco Singers (later Pozo Seco), a trio consisting of Don Williams, Susan Taylor and Loftin Kline, with Don and Susan as the primary lead singers. This career lasted from 1964 to 1970, and saw release of four albums and the following dozen singles:
“Time” (1966) – Pop #47, A/C #3, Canada #9
“I’ll Be Gone” – (1966) Pop #92, A/C #34
“I Can Make It With You” – (1966) Pop #32, Canada #21
“Almost Persuaded” – (1967) – RW Pop #51
“Look What You’ve Done” (1967) – Pop #32, Canada #33
“Morning Dew” (1967) – U.S. – did not chart
“I Believed it All” (1967) – Pop #96, A/C #8.
“Excuse Me Dear Martha” (1967) – Pop #102
“Louisiana Man” (1967) – Pop #97
“Creole Woman” (1968) – did not chart
“Comin’ Apart” (1970) – did not chart
“Strawberry Fields/Something” (1970) – Pop #115
During the latter part of the 1960s the folk/rock lost momentum as a subgenre of music as reflected in Pozo Seco’s declining chart success. The group disbanded in 1970, having worked as a duo the last couple of years after Kline and Kline’s replacement Ron Shaw had left. The last single, “Strawberry Fields/Something” was released after the group had already disbanded. Most of the Pozo Seco recordings are available between two CDs currently available and are worth the effort to find. While of a different genre, Don’s own singing style really never changed, so some of Don’s Pozo Seco recordings received some airplay on country radio after Don achieved success in the country field.
After the group’s breakup, both Don Williams and Susan Taylor (now known as Taylor Pie) eventually associated with JMI, the record label owned by the legendary Jack Clement. Taylor achieved success as a songwriter and was involved in the production of Williams’ early singles with JMI. Williams briefly dropped out of the music business after Pozo Seco, signing with JMI as a songwriter in late 1971 and as a recording artist in 1972.
Williams would issue two albums for JMI, the first (Volume One) being released in June 1973 with the second one (Volume Two) following in January 1974. This started a long string of successful albums with the next seventeen (including three hit collections) reaching the top twenty on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. Of these, twelve would reach top ten status.
Of course, there were limits to the promotional push that could be achieved by a small label like JMI so in 1974, Don signed with ABC/Dot (possibly pushed there by Clement) where he released the album Volume III, from which came the first of his seventeen Billboard #1 singles (another nine singles went to #1 according to Record World and/or Cashbox) with “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me”.
From that point forward Don would push his string of chart singles to 46, of which only four failed to make the top twenty. The string of chart singles ran out in 1992, but Williams continued to release albums of new music through 2014. I cannot say I’ve heard every Don Williams album, but of the many albums I have heard, I have yet to hear a track I really disliked.
Don Williams is now retired (his second announced retirement) but I suspect that this time he will stay retired. Certainly he has nothing left to prove, having left in his wake a tremendous discography of simple yet often highly sophisticated songs performed in a relaxed manner by the “Gentle Giant” of country music. He has been married to the same woman since 1960, raised two kids and certainly has earned the right to rest on his considerable array of laurels.
A complete discography is available here.
So kick back and enjoy our overview of May spotlight artist Don Williams.