Back to Hall of Fame Members

Don
Gibson

Don Gibson was responsible for writing at least three of the most famous songs in country music history, for helping define the sound and studio style of modern country music, and for releasing more than eighty charted records between 1956 and 1980.

  • Inducted
    2001
  • Born
    April 3, 1928
  • Died
    November 17, 2003
  • Birthplace
    Shelby, North Carolina

Three Genre-Defining Songs 

Born Donald Eugene Gibson in Shelby, North Carolina, Gibson got his start with a local band called the Sons of the Soil on Shelby station WOHS. In 1949, he made his first recording with them: a Mercury side called “Automatic Mama.” By 1952, he had gotten a job at Knoxville’s WNOX and was recording for Columbia. None of his recordings for the label were not commercially successful, but he was discovering he had a knack for songwriting. 

By 1955, Gibson had written his first masterpiece, “Sweet Dreams,” later to a hit for himself, Faron Young, and Patsy Cline. It won Gibson a songwriter’s contract with Acuff-Rose Publications and a recording deal with MGM. Then, in 1957, while living in a trailer park north of Knoxville, Gibson wrote his other two career-defining songs on the same day: “Oh Lonesome Me” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” The latter would eventually be recorded more than 700 times by singers in many music genres and sell more than thirty million records worldwide. 

Songs

Sea of Heartbreak
Don Gibson

00:00  /  00:00

I Can’t Stop Loving You
Don Gibson

00:00  /  00:00

Oh, Lonesome Me
Don Gibson

00:00  /  00:00

Introducing the Nashville Sound 

In 1957, Gibson traveled back to Nashville to record “Oh Lonesome Me” for RCA. He and producer Chet Atkins decided to abandon the traditional steel guitar and fiddle and use a new sound featuring only guitars, a piano, a drummer, upright bass, and background singers. It became one of the first examples of what would be called the Nashville Sound and won Gibson a #1 hit; it also set the pattern for a long series of other RCA hits, including “Blue Blue Day” (1958), “Who Cares” (1959), “Sea of Heartbreak” (1961), and “Rings of Gold” (1969). These accomplishments were even more remarkable because Gibson achieved them while suffering from personal problems and drug abuse. 

By 1967, Gibson had married Bobbi Patterson and was making a fresh start with Hickory Records, moved to Nashville, and once again began to concentrate on his first love, songwriting. “I consider myself a songwriter who sings rather than a singer who writes songs,” Gibson said, and as late as 1986 he estimated he had as many as 150 to 175 “working songs that were still performed enough to earn him regular royalties. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973. 

In addition, as a singer, between 1949 and 1985, Gibson recorded 513 titles on a range of labels that included Mercury, Columbia, RCA Victor, Hickory, MGM, and K-Tel. — Stacey Wolfe 

Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press 

“I consider myself a songwriter who sings rather than a singer who writes songs,” Gibson said. 

Related Hall of Fame Members

We use cookies in the following ways: (1) for system administration, (2) to assess the performance of the website, (3) to personalize your experience, content and ads, (4) to provide social media features, and (5) to analyze our traffic. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Please consult instructions for your web browser to disable or block cookies, or to receive a warning before a cookie is stored on your computer or mobile device. Read our Privacy Policy.