November-18th-2003, 04:40 AM
Don Gibson, R.I.P.
Speedy West, Arthur Conley ("Sweet Soul Music") and Don Gibson -- lost them all the same day!
Gibson wrote "Oh Lonesome Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" on the same day, when he "couldn't be closer to the bottom."
Don Gibson, writer of 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' dies at 75
Dropout also penned 'Sweet Dreams,' 'Oh Lonesome Me'
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 Posted: 3:48 AM EST (0848 GMT)
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- 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 was 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 on April 3, 1928, Gibson was a poor boy from Shelby, North Carolina, 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.
Somewhere along the way, the moody, shy kid from a sharecropping family began playing guitar. When a friend came home from Paris after World War II with records by the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Gibson was captivated, and was experimenting with different styles by his mid-teens.
A friend helped him land a performing job with a Knoxville radio station. But things weren't what Gibson expected: The fans wanted old-time country, not Gibson's brand of crooning.
Gibson hung on to the radio job but struggled on $30 a week earned playing beer joints. One day after a radio show, Gibson started humming a melody and playing with words -- not writing anything down at first, just seeing where the tune would lead.
It was the beginning of a classic -- the haunting "Sweet Dreams," made famous by Patsy Cline in 1963.
On June 7, 1957, he wrote two of country music's greatest songs: "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Oh Lonesome Me."
Gibson was living alone in a trailer outside Knoxville. A repo man had just picked up his vacuum cleaner and television when Gibson started strumming, exploring a swirl of words and melodies.
"When I wrote those two songs, I couldn't have been any closer to the bottom," Gibson once said.
"Oh Lonesome Me" was a hit again in 1990 by the Kentucky Headhunters.
Gibson's own recording fared modestly, but "Sweet Dreams" was a solid success for Faron Young as well as Cline. Gibson quit the beer joints and took up songwriting full time.
"Don's one of the most talented people I've known," the late Chet Atkins once said. Atkins produced Gibson's greatest hits. "I always name him when I talk about the most important people I've recorded."
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
November-18th-2003, 10:34 AM
Another blow to classic country this year. RIP, Don. You wrote some beautiful songs.
November-18th-2003, 10:45 AM
Although I do have to say that my first thought on hearing "I Can't Stop Loving You" this morning was "Oh my God, Ray Charles is dead."
But hey? You wrote material for Ray Charles? That's a good life.