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US Country Legend Don Gibson Dies - 2003-11-18

Legendary Country singer and songwriter Don Gibson died of natural causes Monday at a Nashville hospital. He was 75 years old. Gibson helped create the "Nashville Sound," a more polished style with pop elements that helped rejuvenate Country music's popularity in the 1960s.

Nicknamed "the sad poet," Gibson wrote songs that were typically centered on loneliness and lost love.

Don Gibson arrived on the Country music scene in the late-1950s with a new generation of Country singer-songwriters, who wrote simple melodies with strong emotions.

Born in Shelby, North Carolina, in 1928, he began performing on a local radio station with his first band, The Sons of the Soil.

Respected for his unique singing and guitar styles, Gibson made his biggest mark in Country music as a songwriter. In 1955, he earned his breakthrough with Sweet Dreams, a classic he recorded twice. Gibson made his Country chart debut with the Top 10 song in 1956. Four years later, he had equal success with his second version.

Several other singers had hits with Sweet Dreams, most notably the late Patsy Cline, whose version brought Gibson to the attention of the Nashville music industry, and led to a songwriting deal with Acuff-Rose Publishing.

In 1957, he wrote two songs that became popular standards in American music, I Can't Stop Loving You and his long-running Number One Country single, Oh Lonesome Me. Since then, hundreds of artists have recorded the tunes, which have sold in the tens of millions worldwide.

In 1958, Gibson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. But, troubled times followed. Throughout the 1960s, he battled drug and alcohol abuse, and became so disenchanted with the music business that he moved back to North Carolina in 1967. There, he met his second wife, who helped him overcome his addictions. In 1972, he returned to the top of the Country chart with Woman (Sensuous Woman).

Aside from making hit records, Don Gibson's other musical achievements included induction into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1973, and earning a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

More than 700 artists recorded Gibson's I Can't Stop Loving You. The most famous is Ray Charles' million-selling pop version that spent five weeks at Number One in 1962. Gibson's own recording of the song was a Top 10 hit in 1958.

A memorial service is being planned in Nashville for singer, songwriter and guitarist Don Gibson, dead at age 75.