Known to most of his fans simply as “The Voice,” Vern Gosdin was a country singer whose vocal abilities won him respect and popularity as a solo star in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was a prominent member of the country music scene and had helped foster the rise of country rock.
Let’s celebrate Vern Gosdin’s musical contribution with these facts you might not know about him.
He Is A Member Of Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame
In 2017, Vern Gosdin was among the songwriters honored at Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gosdin’s longtime friend and co-writer, Buddy Cannon, accepted the award on behalf of Gosdin. He also shared highlights of Gosdin’s career by introducing a clip of the legendary performer singing “Chiseled in Stone” on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
On the other hand, Luke Bryan took the stage to honor Vern Gosdin by singing “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” a 1988 hit of Gosdin. “The first time I ever heard Vern Gosdin’s name, I was seven or eight-years-old,” Bryan recalled the moment he heard the country icon’s name from his sister, who was riding around listening to Vern Gosdin.
“I never forgot that name,” Bryan continued. “As I got older, that’s when I found out about the music, and when you play I honky-tonks at the age of nineteen, it doesn’t get any better than being in a honky-tonk playing Vern Gosdin music.”
He Started Singing As a Child
Vern Gosdin was born in Woodland, Alabama. He was the sixth of nine children of a musical family and began singing as a child. His family has its own gospel music show on the local radio station.
“The gospel group was mainly myself and my brothers Rex and Ray,” Gosdin recalled. “I learnt how to sing by standing next to my mother when she played keyboards in Bethel East Baptist Church.”
He Used To Sing in Bands
Moving to the West Coast, Vern Gosdin sang in bands. He formed The Gosdin Brothers with Brother Rex. They had some chart success in the late 1960’s too. He is also one of the founding members of The Hillmen (a.k.a. the Golden State Boys), a southern Californian bluegrass group in 1962.
The Louvin Brothers and The Blue Sky Boys Were His Idols
As a young man, Vern Gosdin idolized The Louvin Brothers, a musical duo composed of brothers Ira and Charlie Louvin. He was also a fan of another musical duo, The Blue Sky Boys, composed of the brothers Earl Bolick.
He Is One of Randy Travis’ Musical Heroes
In 2014, Randy Travis released Influence Vol. 2: The Man I Am, it is composed of music that explores the artists who have imprinted his musical legacy throughout the past three decades. Influence Vol. 2: The Man I Am.
He paid homage to Vern Gosdin, along with Hank Snow, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings, through his rendition of Set ‘Em Up Joe.”
He Wrote One Of The Saddest Country Songs Of All Time
“Chiseled in Stone,” Country Music Association Song of the Year in 1989, was penned by Vern Gosdin with singer-songwriter Max D. Barnes. The weepy song details the aftermath of a lovers’ quarrel.
While Junior was drinking his sorrows away, an elderly figure reminded him that he could have it a lot worse: “You don’t know about sadness, ’til you face life alone/You don’t know about lonely ’til it’s chiseled in stone.” In other words, buck up and figure it out — at least she is not dead.
His Wife Left Him Without Telling Him
When Vern Gosdin returned from a tour, he called his wife in Atlanta and asked her whether she wanted him to meet her halfway between Nashville and Atlanta, only to be told that she no longer lives in their home.
“Go check the closet,” she said. “I don’t live there anymore.”
Gosdin, who was only 54 then, remembered feeling like “kicking a hole through a door.” It seemed like he’s approaching his career’s zenith-went down the hall to inspect his wife’s closet. He found it “clean as a pin.”
“I’ve always thought she ought to have told me she was leaving,” he adds philosophically. “But I reckon that’s all right. People don’t usually tell somebody when they’re going, do they?”
She may not have done Vern Gosdin a particularly nice turn, but she did country music fans an excellent one. In the aftermath of her departure, Gosdin sat down and, with friends, wrote nine-tenths of a new album that is mostly about her and the state in which she left him.
He Retired and Come Back
In the 1970s, Vern Gosdin retired from performing. He moved to Cartersville, Georgia, where he operated a glass company. However, he signed with Elektra Records in 1976 and had another hit with the label. It was a remake of “Hangin’ On” which peaked at No. 16.
He Died At The Age 74
After suffering “a pretty bad stroke,” Vern Gosdin peacefully died in his sleep three weeks after. His remains were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.