Don Gibson

Induction Year: 1973

Birth Name: Donald Eugene Gibson

Birth Date: 04-03-1928

Place of Birth: Shelby, North Carolina

Death Date: 11-17-2003

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

The youngest of five children, Don Gibson was born to a family of sharecroppers in North Carolina during the Depression. A shy kid with a stuttering problem, he found escape in the local pool hall and by listening to country music on the radio. At 14, Don bought a cheap guitar and started learning songs by his heroes Red Foley and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Shortly after, he formed a band, the Sons of the Soil. That led to his first professional break in 1948, singing on local radio station WHOS. As his regional fame grew, Gibson moved to Knoxville and cut some sides for Mercury and Columbia. None caught on, but by this time, he was writing his own material, and in 1955 his song "Sweet Dreams" scored him a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose Publications in Nashville. Chet Atkins played guitar on Faron Young's #2 country hit version of the song, and in 1957 when Atkins was named head of RCA's Nashville operation, Gibson was the first artist he signed.

Gibson's intimate, husky voice was a perfect vehicle for the pop-friendly Nashville Sound that Atkins helped pioneer. In one historic 1957 session, Gibson cut two originals, "Oh Lonesome Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" (more than 150 artists would cover the latter). That alone would have sealed his legacy, but Gibson made nearly 80 more hits over the next two decades, including duets with Dottie West and Sue Thompson.

As a songsmith, Gibson's forte was straightforward expressions of loneliness and lost love. "Simple is the only way I can write," Gibson once said. This understated gift for melancholy earned him a nickname, "The Sad Poet." Unfortunately, that sadness extended into his own life. With success an uneasy fit for the shy artist, Gibson turned to pills and booze. After quitting music in 1967, he moved back to North Carolina. There he met his second wife, who helped him get clean and sober. In 1972, he came back with a #1 hit "Woman (Sensuous Woman)," and continued to perform into the early 1980s.

Though best remembered as a songwriter and vocalist, Gibson loved the guitar first, and he was an ace jazz player, with a style similar to Django Reinhardt's.

Don Gibson died of natural causes at age 75. He is buried in his hometown in North Carolina.

"(I'd Be A) Legend in My Time"

Don Gibson1960 
Hank Snow1961 
Roy Orbison1961 
Ricky Nelson1963 
Dottie West1967 
Sammy Davis Jr.1973 
Ronnie Milsap1974 #1 country
Johnny Cash2006 

"(Yes) I'm Hurting"

Don Gibson1966 #6 country
Roy Orbison1966 

"All My Love"

Don Gibson1967 #23 country

"Blue Blue Day"

Don Gibson1958 #1 country, #20 pop
Wilburn Brothers1961 #14 country
The Kendalls1989 #69 country
Iain Matthews1973 

"Don't Tell Me Your Troubles"

Don Gibson1959 #5 country, #85 pop
Rose Maddox1961 
Doc Watson1975 
Shakin' Stevens1981 

"Far Far Away"

Don Gibson1960 #11 country, #72 pop

"Give Myself a Party"

Don Gibson1958 #5 country, #46 pop
Roy Orbison1967 
Jeannie C. Riley1972 #12 country
Mandy Barnett1999 

"Guess Away the Blues"

Don Gibson1971 #19 country

"I Can Mend Your Broken Heart"

Don Gibson1962 #5 country, #105 pop

"I Can't Stop Loving You"

Don Gibson1958 #7 country, #81 pop
Kitty Wells1958 #3 country
Roy Orbison1960 
Ray Charles1962 #1 pop
Paul Anka1963 
Ferlin Husky1963 
Frank Sinatra1964 
Faron Young1964  
Andy Williams1965 
Tom Jones1965 
The Jordanaires1966 
Elvis Presley1969 
Conway Twitty1973 #1 country
Sammi Smith1977 #27 country
Van Morrison1991 
Martina McBride2005 
Johnny Mathis2010 

"Just One Time"

Don Gibson1960 #2 country, #29 pop
The Everly Brothers1963  
Connie Smith1971 #2 country, #119 pop
Tompall & the Glaser Brothers1981 #18 country
Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler1990 

"Lonesome Number One"

Don Gibson1961 #2 country, #59 pop

"Look Who's Blue"

Don Gibson1958 #8 country, #58 pop

"Oh Lonesome Me"

Don Gibson1958 #1 country, #7 pop
Johnny Cash1961 #13 country, #93 pop
Ray Charles1962 
Neil Young1970 
Loggins & Messina1975 
Kentucky Headhunters1990 #8 country
Dwight Yoakam2002 
M. Ward & Lucinda Williams2009 

"One Day at a Time"

Don Gibson1974 #8 country

"Sweet Dreams"

Don Gibson1956 #9 country
Faron Young1956 #2 country
Patsy Cline1963 #5 country, #44 pop
Peter & Gordon1966 
Brenda Lee1966 
Tammy Wynette1968 
Roy Buchanan1972 
Emmylou Harris1976 #1 country
Loretta Lynn1977 
Reba McEntire1979 #19 country
Elvis Costello1981 
Martina McBride2003 

"There's a Story (Goin' Round)"

Don Gibson & Dottie West1969 #7 country

"Too Soon to Know"

Roy Orbison1966 #68 pop

"Watch Where You're Going"

Don Gibson1965 #10 country

"Who Cares"

Don Gibson1959 #3 country, #43 pop

Don Gibson

Induction Year: 1973