Groups that Stood the Test of Time: 1960s

It’s always fascinating to contemplate how different things stand up to the test of time. In music, certain groups’ recordings have a far more enduring appeal than others—even if those others were more popular at the time.

So this week, let’s go decade by decade through Southern Gospel recording history (60s through 90s) and list which groups’ projects still hold the greatest appeal today. I’ll kick things off with a list each day.

Just for fun, if you like, indicate in your list how many recordings you have by that group from that decade.

  1. Blackwood Brothers (35 projects from the 60s). Not only were they one of the decade’s most popular groups, their recordings also stand up today as well as anything out of the 60s. While you can find current versions of every good song other groups recorded in the 60s, the Blackwood Brothers recorded so much that there are dozens of forgotten gems awaiting discovery by fans of male quartet harmonies.
  2. Happy Goodmans (5 projects). They went from nowhere at the start of the decade to one of the top groups by its end. Rusty Goodman wrote and introduced some of his—and Southern Gospel’s—enduring greatest songs in this decade.
  3. Cathedral Quartet (10 projects). The Cathedrals had one of their best lineups vocally, but they didn’t have the momentum of years of hit songs to make them one of the top groups. They did lay the foundation for their later success this decade. As we listen to them today knowing what they would later become, their recordings might be even more appreciated today than they were then.
  4. Weatherfords (3 projects, +2 from 1959). These were the Weatherfords’ peak years, featuring some of the best blends and most perfect harmonies ever seen in Southern Gospel.
  5. Rambos (7 projects). Dottie Rambo wrote and introduced many of her classics in the 1960s, and those recordings have lost little of their appeal over time.
  6. Imperials (1 projects, plus compilations). This Imperials’ later success in CCM shouldn’t overshadow the fact that they were one of SG’s supergroups of the 60s.
  7. Inspirations (1 or 2 projects, plus compilations). The Inspirations’ sound stands the test of time so well simply because it doesn’t change.
  8. Statesmen (14 projects). Okay, I put the Inspirations above the Statesmen just because I could. More seriously, it seems you just had to have been there to fully appreciate the Statesmen phenemenon. Their recordings sounded good then and sound good today—but those who were there say the group owned the live stage. That was what made them one of the greatest groups of their time.
  9. Chuck Wagon Gang (15 projects). Like the Inspirations, The Chuck Wagon Gang has kept a stable sound for so long that those who like their projects today would also like their projects from the 60s.
  10. Florida Boys (10 projects). The Florida Boys were great in this decade, but wouldn’t peak until the 70s and 80s.

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10 Letters to the Editor

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  1. (5) Favorite Groups by Recordings from the ’60s* include the following:

    Downings (3 Recordings)
    Happy Goodmans (9 recordings)
    Hopper Brothers & Connie (7 Recordings)
    Oak Ridge Boys (6 Recordings + their first album from 1958)
    Rambos (8 Recordings)

    *I also have recordings from this decade by Blackwood Brothers, Dixie Echoes, Florida Boys, Hemphills, Inspirations, Kingsmen, Plainsmen, Rebels, Sego Brothers & Naomi, Speer Family, Stamps Qt, Wendy Bagwell & Sunliters.

  2. You knew I’d jump in here, didn’t you, Daniel?

    IMHO, you can’t possibly have a serious discussion of gospel groups that stood the test of time without mentioning the Couriers, whose career has spanned six decades.

    They were major figures in the industry from the mid 1960s throught the 1970s, earning a stellar reputation not only musically, but they also were the major influence behind the shift to a more ministry oriented approach to gospel music presentation that still exists today.

    With albums such as “Nothing…But The Gospel Truth”(1963), “The Sensational Sounding Couriers Quartet”(1965), “Coming And Going”(1968), “Sweet And Shotuing Spirituals”(1970), and songs /like “Statue of Liberty”(1974), and “He’s More Than Just A Swear Word”(1972), and their outstanding reputations among their peers, there can be no doubt that their force and influence on the gospel music industry was emphatic and considerable.

    To say nothing of their tireless inspiration and encouragement to many young, up and coming performers(including the Cathedrals), and they certainly deserve inclusion in this discussion and on this list.

    The Couriers go back to the glory days of the Blackwoods and Statesmen, and they were a pervasive industry force from those days up to the time when the Cathedrals, Gold City, and the Kingsmen began to pace the industry in the 1980s.

    As for what I own by them in the 1960s, I have their 13 albums that decade they released as a quartet on CD(7 of those on vinyl), and all six of the albums they recorded as a trio on CD as well.

    • Well, I didn’t know you’d jump in, but I sure hoped you would!

  3. Speers = 17-18 projects including Mom & Dad’s last recordings. Late 60’s -unique arrangements via Harold Lane.

  4. do you remember a group called the reflection quartet? I found a cassette at a junk store in 1985 and loved it recorded it for my family. I called that tape a blues buster because all the songs were up beat and the tenor was awesome. Someone told me later that the tenor left the group because he thought he could do better, blah blah blah. Don’t care what the story is, the tape was awesome. yep, it wore out.

    • I don’t. Hopefully someone else does!

  5. Does anyone remember a gentlemen that sang with the Crossroads Quartet out of Seattle Washington. Probably in the 60’s or 70’s

    • The gentlemans name was Lloyd Lunstrum with the Crossroads Quartet.

    • Sorry, doesn’t ring a bell with me.

  6. Lloyd Lunstrom was doing crusades a couple of decades back. I’m not sure about now.