Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams dead at 78

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INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: Don Williams performs onstage during 2013 Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival held at The Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

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.”