He was born in Shelby, North Carolina into a poor working-class family, 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. Among his greatest hits were "Oh Lonesome Me" and "Blue Blue Day" (both No. 1 htis in 1958); "Don't Tell Me Your Troubles" (1959); "Sea of Heartbreak" (1961); "Lonesome No. 1" and "I Can Mend Your Broken Heart" (1962); and "Woman (Sensuous Woman)" (a No. 1 hit in 1972). He also recorded a series of successful duets with Dottie West in the late 1960s, the most successful of which were the No. 2 country hit "Rings of Gold" (1969) and the top 10 hit "There's a Story Goin' Round" (1970).
A talented songwriter, Gibson was nicknamed "the sad poet" because he frequently wrote songs that told of loneliness and lost love. He wrote and sang "I Can't Stop Loving You", a song that would be recorded by more than 700 artists, most notably by Ray Charles with a pop version in 1962. He also wrote and recorded "Sweet Dreams" that would become a major 1963 crossover hit for Patsy Cline. A great fan, in 1967 Roy Orbison recorded an album of his songs simple titled: Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson.
Don Gibson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and in 2001 into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
On his passing in 2003, he was interred in the Sunset Cemetery, in his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina.