Don Gibson was born in Shelby, North Carolina, into a poor working-class family, and he dropped out of school in the second grade.
His first band was called Sons of the Soil, with whom he made his first recording in 1948.
In 1957, he journeyed to Nashville to work with producer Chet Atkins and record "Oh Lonesome Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" for RCA Victor. The afternoon session resulted in a double-sided hit on both the country and pop charts.
"Oh Lonesome Me" set the pattern for a long series of other RCA hits. "Blue Blue Day", recorded prior to "Oh, Lonesome Me" was a number 1 hit in 1958. Later singles included "Look Who's Blue" (1958), "Don't Tell Me Your Troubles" (1959), "Sea of Heartbreak" (1961); "Lonesome No. 1", "I Can Mend Your Broken Heart" (1962), and "Woman (Sensuous Woman)", a number one country hit in 1972.
Gibson recorded a series of successful duets with Dottie West in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the most successful of which were the Number two country hit "Rings of Gold" (1969) and the top 10 hit "There's a Story Goin' Round" (1970). West and Gibson released an album together in 1969, titled Dottie and Don. He also recorded several duets with Sue Thompson among these being the Top 40 hits, "I Think They Call It Love" (1972), "Good Old Fashioned Country Love" (1974) and "Oh, How Love Changes" (1975).
A talented songwriter, Gibson was nicknamed The Sad Poet because he frequently wrote songs that told of loneliness and lost love. His song "I Can't Stop Loving You", has been recorded by over 700 artists, most notably by Ray Charles in 1962. He also wrote and recorded "Sweet Dreams", a song that would become a major 1963 crossover hit for Patsy Cline. Roy Orbison was a great fan of Gibson's songwriting, and in 1967, he recorded an album of his songs simply titled Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson. Gibson's wide appeal was also shown in Neil Young's recorded version of "Oh Lonesome Me" on his 1970 album After the Gold Rush, which is one of the few songs Young has recorded that he did not write.
Gibson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973. In 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Following his death from natural causes on November 17, 2003, he was buried in the Sunset Cemetery in his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina.
Located in Cleveland County, North Carolina, the Don Gibson Theater opened on November 2009 in historic uptown Shelby. Originally constructed in 1939, the renovated art deco gem features an exhibit of the life and accomplishments of singer/songwriter Don Gibson, an intimate 400-seat music hall, and adjoining function space that can accommodate up to 275 people.
The theater showcases a busy schedule of premier musical performances. Past performers have included Marty Stuart, Pam Tillis, Tom Paxton, Ralph Stanley, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, John Oates and Gene Watson. For more information: http://dongibsontheatre.com/