Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Influential country songwriter dies

November 19, 2003

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— Don Gibson, an elementary school dropout who wrote and recorded country standards like "I Can't Stop Loving You," has died, his lawyer said. He was 75.

Gibson died Monday at Baptist Hospital, said Richard Frank, who is also a longtime friend of the Grand Ole Opry star.

Gibson's songs used plain language and riveting melodies to communicate strong emotions. He sang in a rich baritone and usually wrote about solitude and sadness involving love, earning him the nickname "the sad poet."

"Simple is the only way I can write," he once said.

Gibson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Born April 3, 1928, Gibson was a poor boy from Shelby, N.C., who dropped out of school in second grade. But he became a songwriting genius who sold millions of records.

"The only thing I was any good at was music," he said in a 1997 interview.

Between 1958 and the mid-1960s, Gibson's records and his compositions, including "Sweet Dreams" and "Oh Lonesome Me," were hits for himself and many other performers.

"I Can't Stop Loving You" was recorded by more than 700 artists, but Ray Charles had the big pop version in 1962.

Gibson and others helped create the "Nashville Sound" in the 1960s -- clean, uncluttered music that remains an influence today.

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