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Vern Gosdin dies at 74

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 – Singer Vern Gosdin, 74, who was on the country charts from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s and considered one of the best honky tonk singers of his time, died at midnight after suffering a stroke about three weeks ago.

Tammy Wynette once said of Gosdin, who was known as The Voice, that he was "the only other singer who can hold a candle to George Jones."

Gosdin had number 1 hits with I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You're Gonna Love Me Tonight) in 1983, Set 'Em Up Joe in 1988 and I'm Still Crazy in 1989.

Gosdin was born on Aug 5, 1934 in Woodland, Ala. He learned how to play mandolin while growing up. In the early 1950s, he was part of the Gosdin Family radio show from Birmingham, Ala. By 1960, he moved to California and formed the Golden State Boys with brother Rex. The group was named the Hillmen after mandolinist Chris Hillman, who was in the band and later co-founded the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band. The brothers later recorded together as The Gosdin Brothers, having a top 40 song, Hangin' On in 1967. They also played on the first solo album with Gene Clark in 1967 after he left The Byrds, "Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers."

The Gosdin brothers quit by 1972 and worked day jobs in Atlanta.

Vern Gosdin gave it another shot and convinced friend Emmylou Harris to head to Nashville for a demo session. Gosdin soon signed with Elektra. He first charted in his solo career in 1976 with Hangin' On, which would go on to be the first of 41 songs to hit the Billboard charts. Gosdin enjoyed a hit, Till the End, with then unknown Janie Frickie. He shifted labels, going to Ovation, AMI and Compleat. After Compleat went bankrupt, Gosdin signed with Columbia in 1987. He won the Country Music Association song of the year in 1989 for Chiseled in Stone, a co-write with frequent partner Max D. Barnes.

CD reviews for Vern Gosdin

The Voice
Vern Gosdin has had an awful lot of hits (19 in the Top Ten alone) for someone whose name recognition is probably very low. He has never been anything other than 100-percent pure country, which means his chances of having more hits aren't as good as they ought to be. His phrasing and type of material have pretty much kept Gosdin in George Jones' big shadow, which isn't such a bad place to be. In the past, Gosdin could at times have been mistaken for Jones, but his voice isnot as deep here. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: For McCoury, Grisman, music still matters – One condenser microphone, a music stand, a mandolin, rhythm guitar and more than 100 years of bluegrass experience: that's all David Grisman and Del McCoury need to put on a show. It's quite a show, too. The artists' backstories are well known: McCoury was a logger in Lancaster County, Pa., who came to New York City to see Bill... »»»
Concert Review: Ely wears well – Joe Ely is the prototypical rambler. It comes through in his music and in his life. There are lots of elements in the music about travels, riding the rails, small town scenery and getting away from it. In fact, after playing "I'm Gonna Strangle You Shorty" as the first song of his encore, Ely opined, "The only thing I got out of... »»»
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