Southern Gospel Finds at the Thrift Store

I stopped at the local thrift store on Saturday. There are often few or no Southern Gospel records there, but this time I had several “finds”:

  • He’s Wonderful – LeFevres (year?). The notes say Pierce LeFevre had just returned from the service; does this date it for anyone? This is really solid, enjoyable quartet singing. It seems to have a 50s feel.
  • Pray Pray Pray for the U.S.A. – Wally Fowler and the Oak Ridge Quartet (year?). There is no group picture, so I have no idea as to when this was recorded or the personnel on the project. The project has a late 50s or (very) early 60s feel.
  • Sweeter as the Days Go By – Prophets Quartet (year?). It seems to have a mid-60s feel. Does anyone know personnel or the year of recording?
  • Listen to Those Smooth Weatherfords – Weatherfords (year?). This seems to be a post-Cathedral of Tomorrow lineup. It has a late 60s feel.
  • Little Steve Sings Big – Steve (year?). Who was “Little Steve”? The liner notes indicate he appeared on the Gospel Singing Jubilee. I picked up the album because the Florida Boys were on the cover. Tommy Atwood’s tenor and Billy Todd’s glasses would seem to date it to the late 60s.
  • In Hawaii – Rex Humbard and the Cathedral Singers (year?). I think this was after the Cathedral Quartet left Humbard’s ministry. An almost-quaint tidbit of history: The album is in a mailer envelope with five cents of postage.
  • High and Easy – Coy Cook (year?). This was recorded between 1966 and 1969, since Coy Cook was with the Dixie Echoes at the time. Does anyone have a more precise date?
  • Gloryland Train – Perry Sisters (1984). Diana Gillette wrote most of the songs on this Eddie Crook Company-released album.
  • Steve Green – Steve Green (1984). This album could be said to be more Southern Gospel than (today’s) Gold City or Booth Brothers. If Green had any desire to return to this style, he could probably easily find a home on Southern Gospel radio—and a new fan base in a genre where legends are a more than just yesterday’s news.
  • Enter Into the Joy of the Lord – Vernon Bowling, Joe Isaacs and the Sacred Bluegrass (year?). Yes, this is the Joe Isaacs, and Lily was also a group member. To help date the album, the group had been together for slightly over two years, and Lily had released a solo folk album on Columbia approximately ten years before. In a (retrospectively) almost quaint touch, Bowling and Isaacs printed their home phone numbers on the back for booking purposes. (It’s not worth tracking down the album for that, too, since even in the highly improbable event Isaacs hasn’t moved, I believe that area of Ohio has since changed area codes.)

Does anyone know any of the album information I’m missing?

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23 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Pierce joined The LeFevres in early 1959 so I would date that album 1959 or 1960.

    Little Steve was Steve Sanders who travelled with The Florida Boys in his teens and recorded several albums for Canaan records. He later would become a member of The Oak Ridge Boys in 1981 playing guitar and then singing baritione with the Oaks replacing William Lee Golden from 1987 to 1995 after Golden was fired by the other three members of the Oaks. Golden returned in 1995 at which time Sanders left the group. Sanders died in 1998 at his home in Cape Coral, FL.

  2. I don’t have any info, but I was hoping you could help me, Daniel.

    Do you know of any places where I could find speakers for my record player? It looks like it was made in the late ’70s or the ’80s.(I say that era because it has a tape deck on it.:) )

  3. Sarah, first I would need to know what kind of speakers you need. Do you have a digital camera? Could you take a picture of where the speakers get plugged in and email it to me? That would help a lot!

    Otherwise, could Google or Google-Images the name and precise make of your record player and see if anyone else has taken a picture of it.

  4. Yeah, let me go take the pics, it’ll take me a few min. top get them loaded, but I’ll go do that now.

  5. Ah yes….Little Steve Sanders. A very tragic story. He went to Europe with Mylon LeFevre and started a rock band, came back to the states in the early 80’s and started playing guitar with the Oaks band. Doug filled in the rest of the story.

    Steve also appeared on Broadway in “The Yearling” and the 1960’s Otto Preminger film, “Hurry Sundown,” with Michael Caine and Faye Dunaway.

  6. I’ll have to get those pics to you later, Daniel, my camera is dead so I couldn’t take any yet, but I’ll let it charge for a couple hours then take the pics and send them to you.

  7. Sounds like a plan!

  8. Sweeter As the Days Go By — circa 1968 Lou Garrison, Dean Brown, Ed Hill, Jim Boatman, Danny Churchwell

    Listen to the Smooth Weatherfords 1966
    Lily Fern Weatherford, Glen Couch, Earl Weatherford, Fulton Nash, James Clark

    High & Easy – Coy Cook 1968

    He’s Wonderful — 1962

    Wally Fowler – Pray, Pray Pray — not sure of year
    Personnel probably — Johnny New, Wally Fowler, Curley Kinsey, Deacon Freeman but that’s a guess

  9. Wow! Thanks for all that information.

  10. When Little Steve was traveling with The Florida Boys, I heard Les Beasley say that they hated to go on after Steve had sung. In those early years he had a very high range. I wished I could get my hands on some of those early recordings. I have a book from an all night sing in Bainbridge, GA where all of the sponsors were listed as well as pictures of the groups. I have Steve’s autograph as well as all of The Florida Boys, The LeFevres and The Rambos. It’s definitely a keepsake for me.

  11. Wow, great finds! You got a load this time around!

  12. I know! I was pretty excited.

  13. I have one of his VERY early records on MGM – “A Young Boy’s Prayer.” Talk about HIGH!! I also have a video of Steve and his dad, Herbert, playing and singing on Ed Sullivan!!

  14. Ok , Dan, I sent them.

  15. About the Weatherfords. If the album cover has Tracy Dartt and Haskell Cooley, it was from 1973, because Tracy joined in 1973, and Haskell Cooley left in 1974 to join the Cathedrals.

  16. I think that Steve Sanders LP is from 1968. He was a regular on the Gospel Singing Jubilee.

    “Pray Pray Pray” is one of the few albums that Wally Fowler recorded with the “real” Oak Ridge Quartet. I think it was released in 1961. Willie Wynn, Smitty Gatlin, Ron Page, and Herman Harper are singing background vocals on that album. Prior to that time, Wally made many recordings with the singers that Dean mentioned in his post.

    After Wally had a falling out with the early 1960s version of the Oaks about who owned the name “Oak Ridge Quartet”, he began singing with his own version of the “Oak Ridge Quartet”. You never knew what four singers he’d pull together in one of his bogus versions of the Oaks. Several Wally Fowler LPs featured these “no name” Oaks.

    See . . . arguments about the ownership of a given group’s name isn’t a new phenomenon of 2008.

  17. One of the songs on the Coy Cook LP, “I Found a Savior”, was the song that the Dixie Echoes generally used when they came on stage. I always wondered why they didn’t record it on a Dixie Echoes LP.

  18. #15—I don’t think it’s Haskell Cooley on the cover. I don’t recognize Tracy Dartt.

  19. Thank you, everyone, for your help! I really appreciate it!

    It is so nice to be part of a community that can step up and help answer some of these questions. It’s also nice to turn around and be able to help others who email in—nice to have it go both ways! 🙂

  20. I believe that when Wally Fowler originally let the Oak Ridge name go, he did it in exchange for fishing gear. The second time, however, Smitty Gatlin took him to court over it.

  21. Duane Allen once mentioned on a TV appearance from around the time he first joined that they owned both the names “Oak Ridge Quartet” and “Oak Ridge Boys,” although they go by “Oak Ridge Boys.” Their corporation is under “The Oak Ridge Boys, Inc.”

  22. I’ve found a great amount of classic Southern Gospel lps at local thrift stores, but I also find a lot at Flea Markets and junk stores like that. Our church went on a trip to the mountains and I found “The Best of the Cathedrals”, “A Cappella” by GVB, “The Call” by Mike Bowling, and “Mountain Homecoming” by the Gaithers. I didn’t get the Mike Bowling cd b/c it was worn out, but the rest of them only cost me $ 5.00. Sounds like a great buy! A few weeks ago, I found a copy of “The Best of the Happy Goodmans” on their first record label Sims Records. It only cost me a dollar! lol

  23. Just got a huge bunch of records for $40.00 at a yard sale. Among the jewels are an early recording of the Hinsons (“Lighthouse” was the only song on there written by a group member), the Calvarymen, some old Prophets albums, and some local groups (where one can oftentimes find some great original songs that have been lost to time and availability.)