Don Williams, a singer of heartfelt country ballads who emerged as one of the biggest stars in country music during the late 1970s, died on Friday in Mobile, Ala. He was 78.
His publicist, Kirt Webster, said the cause was emphysema.
Never entirely comfortable in the limelight, Mr. Williams nonetheless found himself in it: 17 of his singles, including earnest declarations like “You’re My Best Friend” and “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” reached the top of the Billboard country chart from 1974 to 1984.
He found particularly enthusiastic fans in Britain, where his admirers included the rock stars Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton.
Named male vocalist of the year by the Country Music Association in 1978, Mr. Williams released 52 Top 40 country singles in all, 45 of them rising as high as the Top 10, before the hits stopped coming in the 1990s.
Nicknamed the Gentle Giant (even though his height of 6 feet 1 inch may not have quite warranted it), Mr. Williams was adept at writing and recording plain-spoken material extolling the virtues of romantic commitment.