(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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