When North Carolina born balladeer Don Gibson originally recorded his oft-covered hit 'Oh Lonesome Me' he sang it as 'Ole Lonesome Me.'

But a clerk in the print division of the studio labelled it 'Oh Lonesome Me' and it stayed that way for the singer's entire career.

That all started in the city of Shelby where Gibson worked in bars and on radio while still at school.
And it ended at the ripe old age of 75 in Nashville on Monday November 17 after a long battle with booze and dope.

Gibson was the master of melancholia - with a vast catalogue of songs about loneliness, despair and heartbreak.

And he proved he was no one trick pony with artists from many genres having hits with his songs.

Gibson joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1958 and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

The singer also made successful tours of Australia during the peak of his career with concerts at Festival Hall in West Melbourne.

Don Gibson

"He sang very well and I go back to the great songs he wrote," fellow Hall of Famer Eddy Arnold revealed this week.

"Golly, Bill, those were monsters that he wrote. He made a mark. Oh, yes, those records will last."


Gibson balanced singing and songwriting with work as a textile mill worker, dish washer, soda jerk, nappies delivery truck driver, and jukebox maintenance man.

His musical career began in 1948 when his band 'Sons Of The Soil' aired on WOHS, Shelby, on a regular basis.

Gibson played with 'Sons of the Soil,' in a style similar to the 'Sons of the Pioneers.'

"That was the first I ever heard of Don," revealed fellow Hall Of Fame member Earl Scruggs who also hailed from Shelby, "This announcer would say 'from the heart of Shelby, North Carolina,' comes Don Gibson and The Sons Of The Soil. You know, he played one of the best rhythm guitars I've ever heard. He could hit a lick or two on the guitar and you could tell right away it was him."


In 1949, he recorded his first song 'Automatic Mama,' for Mercury at WBBO, Forest City, North Carolina.

His song 'Why Am I So Lonely' was cut at the event.

In 1950 he changed to RCA.

At that time he moved from Shelby to Knoxville and joined WNOX 'Midday Merry-Go-Round' and 'Tennessee Barn Dance.'

In 1952 he signed with Columbia Records but had no chart success with the label.


In 1955 he wrote 'Sweet Dreams,' which made the Top 10 in 1956, and began recording for MGM.

His first recorded composition was 'Why Am I So Lonely?'

Sweet Dreams, later a hit for Faron Young and Patsy Cline, spawned a songwriting deal with Acuff-Rose Publications and record deal with MGM.

It was there he recorded rockabilly tune 'I Ain't A-Studyin' You, Baby' in 1957.

That year he moved over to RCA Victor, wrote and recorded his first single 'Too Soon to Know' and decided to write songs for a living.

While living in a trailer park near Knoxville, Gibson wrote 'Oh Lonesome Me' and 'I Can't Stop Loving You' on the same day.

The latter was recorded more than 700 times by singers in various genres, although Ray Charles is thought to have the most well known version.

The 1958 recording of 'Oh Lonesome Me' won him many major awards, as did 'I Can't Stop Loving You' and 'Sea Of Heartbreak' in 1961.


'Oh Lonesome Me,' later a hit for the Kentucky Headhunters in 1990, was his next single and stayed at the top for eight weeks in the winter of 1958.

Produced by Chet Atkins, they left off steel guitar and fiddle and went for a new sound of a drummer, piano, guitars, upright bass and background singers.

The recording eventually would become one of the first examples of the Nashville Sound.
Don Gibson appeared on the Grand Ole Opry for the very first time in 1958.
He spent a couple of years in Nashville but in 1964 he left the Opry.


In 1967 Gibson returned to hometown Shelby and met second wife Bobbi Patterson who he credited with saving him from booze and dope.

By 1969 he signed with Acuff-Rose's Hickory Records and in 1975 he was reinstated as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Gibson continued with a bunch of hits for RCA Victor, including 'Just One Time,' 'Sea of Heartbreak,' 'Lonesome Number One' and 'Rings of Gold,' with the late Dottie West.

He endured drug and personal problems during his career which saw him also record for Hickory and Warner/Curb.

Gibson's last #1 hit was 'Woman (Sensuous Woman)' in 1972 and recorded successful duets with both West and Sue Thompson.

He charted until 1980 with 'One Day At A Time' and 'Bring Back Your Love To Me.'

The chart success of 'Love Fires' in 1980 enabled him to score hits in four decades.
This marked the end of Gibson's chart success but he continued performing throughout these 80s and 90s with Opry shows a bonus.

Gibson is survived by wife Bobbi and will be buried at a family plot in his home town - a memorial service will follow in Nashville.


The sadness of Gibson matched Roy Orbison who recorded an album 'Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson' in 1967 and had a hit single with 'Too Soon To Know.'

His own bleak 'King Of Country Soul' which includes some country standards, is highly regarded.

Here's a list of Gibson's most famous songs and the artists who recorded them

Sweet Dreams
Patsy Cline (1963), Loretta Lynn, Faron Young (1956), Roy Orbison (1967), Emmylou Harris (1976), Don Gibson (1956, 1961), Reba McEntire (1979).

It was also recorded by the 'Hellecasters,' 'Eurythmics,' Roy Buchanan and Mighty Sam McLain,

Oh Lonesome Me
Don Gibson (1958), Johnny Cash (1961), Neil Young, Kentucky Headhunters (1990)

I Can't Stop Loving You

Kitty Wells (1958), Don Gibson (1958), Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Conway Twitty (1972), Sammi Smith (1977), Mary K. Miller (1978).

It was also recorded by Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and in 1991 by Van Morrison & The Chieftains.

Blue, Blue Day
Don Gibson (1958), Wilburn Brothers (1961), Tracy Nelson

I'll Be A Legend In My Time
Ronnie Milsap (1975)

Too Soon To Know
Don Gibson (1957), Roy Orbison (1967)

Guess Away The Blues
Don Gibson (1971)

Country Green
Don Gibson (1971)

Who Cares For Me
Don Gibson (1959)

Sea Of Heartbreak
Don Gibson (1961), Kenny Price (1972), Lynn Anderson (1979), Ronnie McDowell (1989)

One Day at a Time
Don Gibson (1974)

Don't Tell Me Your Troubles
Don Gibson (1959)

Give Myself a Party
Don Gibson (1958), Roy Orbison (1967), Jeannie C. Riley (1972)

Just One Time
Don Gibson (1960), Connie Smith (1971), Tompall & The Glaser Brothers (1981)

Lonesome Number One
Don Gibson (1962), Roy Orbison (1967)

Wasted Words
Ray Price (1956)


Oh Lonesome Me (RCA Victor 1958)
Songs By Don Gibson (Lion 1958)
No One Stands Alone (RCA Victor 1959)
That Gibson Boy (RCA Victor 1959)
Look Who's Blue i (RCA Victor 1960)
Sweet Dreams (RCA Victor 1960)
Girls, Guitars And Gibson (RCA Victor 1961)
Some Favourites Of Mine (RCA Victor 1962)
I Wrote A Song (RCA Victor 1963)
God Walks These Hills (RCA Victor 1964)
Too Much Hurt (RCA Victor 1965)
Don Gibson (RCA Victor 1965)
The Fabulous Don Gibson (RCA Victor 1965)
A Million Blue Tears (RCA Victor 1965)
Hurtin' Inside (RCA Victor 1966)
Don Gibson With Spanish Guitars (RCA Victor 1966)
Great Country Songs (RCA Victor 1966)
All My Love (RCA Victor 1967)
The King Of Country Soul (RCA Victor 1968)
More Country Soul (RCA Victor 1968)
I Love You So Much It Hurts (RCA Victor 1968)
My God Is Real (RCA Victor 1969) with Dottie West
Dottie And Don (RCA Victor 1969)
Don Gibson Sings All-Time Country Gold (RCA Victor 1969)
Hits - The Don Gibson Way (RCA Victor 1970)
A Perfect Mountain (Hickory 1970)
Hank Williams As Sung By Don Gibson (Hickory 1971)
Country Green (Hickory 1972)
Woman (Sensuous Woman) (Hickory 1972)
Sample Kisses (Hickory 1972)
Am I That Easy To Forget? (Hickory 1973)
With Sue Thompson - The Two Of Us Together (Hickory 1973)
Touch The Morning/That's What I'll Do (Hickory 1973)
With Sue Thompson - Warm Love (Hickory 1973)
Just Call Me Lonesome (Hickory 1973)
Snap Your Fingers (Hickory 1974)
Bring Back Your Love To Me (Hickory 1974)
Just One Time (Hickory 1974)
I'm The Loneliest Man/There She Goes I Wish Her Well (Hickory 1975)
With Sue Thompson - Oh How Love Changes (Hickory 1975)
Don't Stop Loving Me (Hickory 1975)
I'm All Wrapped Up In You (Hickory 1976)
If You Ever Get To Houston (Look Me Down) (Hickory 1977)
Starting All Over Again (Hickory 1978)
Look Who's Blue (Hickory 1978)


20 Of The Best (RCA 1982)
Rockin' Rollin' Gibson, Volume l (Bear Family 1984)
Rockin' Rollin' Gibson, Volume 2 (Bear Family 1984)
Collector's Series (RCA 1985)
Don Gibson And Los Indios Tabajaras (Bear Family 1986)
Don Gibson - The Early Days (Bear Family 1986)
Collection: Don Gibson (Castle 1987)
A Legend In His Time (Bear Family 1988)
All Time Greatest Hits (RCA 1990)
The Singer: The Songwriter, 1949-60 (Bear Family 1991)
Currents (1992)
The Singer: The Songwriter 1961-66 4-CD box set (Bear Family 1993)

Bibliography: Don Gibson - A Legend In His Own Time, Richard Weize and Charles Wolfe.

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