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Who Don Gibson
When November 18, 2003
Where Nashville, TN
What 'Sweet Dreams' songwriter, artist Don Gibson dies
 

(Excerpt from the article mentioned above)

By Peter Cooper
Staff Writer, The Tennesseean

Country Music Hall of Famer Don Gibson, a hit artist and songwriter who penned classics Sweet Dreams, I Can't Stop Loving You and Oh Lonesome Me, died yesterday of natural causes at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. He was 75.

"He sang very well, and I go back to the great songs he wrote," said fellow Hall of Famer Eddy Arnold. "Golly Bill, those were monsters that he wrote."

Born Donald Eugene Gibson, the singer credited Arnold and Red Foley as two of his prime vocal influences, and his sonorous, uptown singing style echoed those two greats. In the 1940s, he began singing on WHOS, a radio station in his native Shelby, N.C., with a band called the Sons of the Soil.

But while his singing and his guitar work were quite distinctive, it was Mr. Gibson's songwriting that would make his first indelible mark on country music. He recorded for major labels beginning in 1949, but a self-penned 1955 composition called Sweet Dreams was his breakthrough effort.

Sweet Dreams was a hit for its author, for Faron Young, for Emmylou Harris and, most famously, for Patsy Cline. That song brought Mr. Gibson then a regular at Knoxville's WNOX to the attention of the Nashville-based country music industry and earned him a songwriting deal with Acuff-Rose publishing.

In 1957, Mr. Gibson was living in an East Tennessee trailer park when, according to legend, he wrote Oh Lonesome Me and I Can't Stop Loving You in one afternoon. Both songs are now considered standards of American popular music, with I Can't Stop Loving You having sold tens of millions of records from versions by artists including Gibson, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles.

Produced by Chet Atkins, Mr. Gibson's 1957 recording of Oh Lonesome Me for RCA was a landmark that helped usher in what became known as the "Nashville Sound." In 1958, it became Mr. Gibson's first No. 1 single.

"In some ways, he invented the Nashville Sound," said Charles K. Wolfe, a music historian at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. "A spare sound with piano, drums, guitar, no fiddle and no steel that's basically Don Gibson's idea."

"He was a great writer, and no one could sing those songs he wrote like he could," said "Queen of Country Music" Kitty Wells. "I think he was one of the best singers in the business."

Had Mr. Gibson only been a singer, his work would be well-remembered. Had he only been a songwriter, he would have ranked among Nashville's most substantial song scribes. Had he only been a recording artist, he would have merited great praise from his own idols, including Eddy Arnold. The title of Mr. Gibson's 1960 song (I'd Be) A Legend In My Time rings true enough, but his legend should be secure for decades hence.

"He made a mark," Arnold said. "Oh yes, those records will last."

Mr. Gibson is survived by his wife, Bobbi. He will be buried at a family plot in his native Shelby, N.C., and a Nashville memorial service is being planned.

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Contact Peter Cooper
The Tennesseean


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