Born May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas, Don Williams spent much of his childhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. His father was a mechanic whose job took him to other regions, his mother played guitar and he grew up listening to country music. He and Lofton Kline formed a semi-professional folk group called the Strangers Two, and then, with the addition of Susan Taylor, they became the Pozo-Seco Singers, the phrase being a geological term to denote a dry well. Handled by Bob Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, they had major pop hits in the U.S. with "Time," "I Can Make It With You" and "Look What You've Done." Following Kline's departure, they employed several replacements, resulting in a lack of musical direction. After Williams had failed to turn the trio towards country music, they disbanded in 1971.
He then worked for his father-in-law but also wrote for Susan Taylor's solo album via Jack Clement's music publishing company. Clement asked Williams to record albums of his company's best songs, mainly with a view to attracting other performers. In 1973, Don Williams, Volume 1 was released on the fledgling JMI label and included such memorable songs as Bob McDill's apologia for growing old, "Amanda," and Williams' own "The Shelter of Your Eye." Williams' work was reissued by Dot Records, and Don Williams, Volume 2 included "Atta Way to Go" and "We Should Be Together." Williams then had a country No. 1 with Wayland Holyfield's "You're My Best Friend," which has become a standard and is the perennial sing-along anthem at his concerts. By now, the Williams' style had developed: gently paced love songs with straightforward arrangements, lyrics and sentiments. Williams was mining the same vein as Jim Reeves, but he eschewed Reeves' smartness by dressing like a ranch-hand. Besides having a huge contingent of female fans, Williams counted Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend among his admirers. Clapton recorded his country hit "Tulsa Time," written by Danny Flowers, a member of Williams' band.
Williams played a band member himself in the Burt Reynolds film W.W. & the Dixie Dance Kings and also appeared in Smokey and the Bandit 2. Williams' other successes include "Till the Rivers All Run Dry," "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend," "Lay Down Beside Me" and his only U.S. solo pop hit, "I Believe in You." Unlike most established country artists, he has not sought duet partners, although he and Emmylou Harris found success in 1981 with their version of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You." Among the highlights of Williams' recording career is his interpretation of "Good Ol' Boys Like Me," McDill's homage to his southern roots. Moving to Capitol Records in the mid-'80s, Williams released such singles as "Heartbeat in the Darkness" and "Senorita," but the material was not as impressive. He took a sabbatical in 1988, but subsequent RCA Records recordings showed that nothing had changed.
In 1998, Williams released I Turn the Page on Giant Records, but the label soon closed its country music division. Following a live album in 2001, Williams retuned in 2004 with My Heart to You.
Maintaining his stress-free style, Williams continues to be a major concert attraction, especially in the U.K. and South Africa.