Whatever Happened To Vern Gosdin?
We all have our favorite songs, our favorite artists. But how many times have you heard a song that made you stop. I mean stop, turn up the radio and at the end of the song the hair on your arms are standing up, and perhaps there's a moistness in your eyes that hadn't been there before? A song that literally made you go, 'Whoa'!
It happened to me in 1988.
I was working at a radio station in Rapid City, and not a country music station. Nope, was working on a morning show on a rock Top 40 station at that time, playing Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n Roses and the rest. I had just come off the air at 10:00 A.M. and was walking back to my desk and passed a production room where a co-worker (who was working on the country station in the building) was playing a song. I stopped, listened for a bit and asked him who that was.
'Who that was' was Vern Gosdin. It was a new song, just into the station, and he played it for me. It was a song called 'Chiseled In Stone'. As the last chord faded, I had goosebumps and yes, watery eyes. 'Whoa'!
At the time, I had virtually no idea who Vern Gosdin was. But in the years since, I became a huge Vern Gosdin fan and certainly found out why millions of fans around the world called him, quite simply, 'The Voice'.
An Alabama boy, Vern was one of nine children in the family and began singing as a child with his brothers. Moving to the West Coast, Vern sang in bands (including one with future Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman) and had some chart success with his brother Rex in the late 1960's.
In 1976, working with Emmylou Harris among others, Vern first had his country hit's, including the beautiful 'Yesterday's Gone' and 'Til The End', songs I liked and played in Winner and Aberdeen at radio stations I worked at. But I really hadn't taken full notice of Vern until in 1988 and the above mentioned 'Chiseled In Stone'.
'The Voice' went on to have nearly twenty Top 10 hits, including three #1's (ironically, not 'Chiseled In Stone', the three were 'I Can Tell By The Way You Dance', 'Set 'Em Up Joe' and 'I'm Still Crazy').
Vern had a stroke in 1998, but recovered and kept singing and recording his beautiful music until 2009. It was then that 'The Voice' suffered a second stroke and passed away April 28 of that year at the age of 74.