My second favorite Cathedrals Lineup

Ever since I started listening to Southern Gospel, the final version of the Cathedrals has been the group I would point to when asked to name the quintessential Southern Gospel quartet. They were the group that got me hooked on Southern Gospel, and (in part by building on their heritage) they brought a special something to the Southern Gospel stage that no group before or since has quite captured.

There’s no question that the Haase/Fowler/Bennett Cathedrals are my favorite. But my second-favorite has just changed.

The 1970s Tremble/Webster/Cooley Cathedrals are now my second-favorite lineup. I have every album this group produced, and (especially once they’d been together for two or three years) no other Cathedrals lineup could top their group blend–including, and I know this is heresy to some, the original Cathedrals.

This was their “Easy on the Ears, Heavy on the Heart” era, when they hadn’t quite made it to the top tier but were pretty close to breaking through. There’s something refreshing about listening to the albums from this era, where they were putting everything they had into their projects as they tried to move up to the top tier.

This was the era when they were putting together the core fan base and the repertoire that would keep them from flaring out once they had–and took–their chance to make it big in the early ’80s.

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31 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. That was a great combination. I really enjoy the 2 CD set that Cathedral Records released a few years ago of two live records with that personnel. Personally speaking, I lean towards the combination circa 1987 with Danny, Mark, and Gerald.

  2. The live records they did are nice, but I have to say that in the live records field the final three lineups (i.e., Talley, Funderburk, and Haase eras) take the cake in my book.

    Their major-label projects from the 70s are okay.

    But where, in my opinion, the 70s Cathedrals really shine was in their table projects (generally released on the Eternal label). Those table projects are the best table projects I’ve ever heard.

  3. I think every group the Cathedrals had was great! But there’s no doubt about it, the best group EVER in the history of Southern Gospel Quartet’s was the line up with Mark, Danny, and Gerald. Second line up would be Kirk, Mark, and Roger.

  4. It’s a very close tie for me between the Roy, George Amon and Haskell-Cathedrals and the Danny, Mark, and Roger-Cathedrals.
    I have to go with the earler group because of Haskell’s Stamps-Baxter piano stylings. He just bounces around on the piano in a happy, cheerfull manner, and man, I LOVE IT!
    They did their performances live without tracks or stacks. That just cannot be beat.This lineup IS the best quartet ever!

  5. The Cathedrals always had a smooth sound with all the groups,I personally liked the earlier years also,but I also liked rogers style of playing. I still get out my old records(yes records) and listen to them.

  6. Daniel, thanks for once again bringing up my favorite Southern Gospel quartet. I have to go with the Danny, Mark, and Roger as my top Cathedrals combo. “Travelin’ Live” is probably my favorite album, followed closely by “I’ve Just Started Living”. I must say, though, that the charisma that George, Glen, Kirk, Mark, and Roger brought to the stage back in the early 80s was unmatched by any other Cathedrals lineup. To see them live was to love them. Their infectious performances made a young kid a lifelong fan.

  7. The “quintessential Southern Gospel quartet” is NOT the Cathedrals. It was the Statesmen with Hovie, Rosie, Jake, Doy and the Chief. Period. The arrangements, harmonies, stage presence and flair were far ahead of their time, and were they transported into today’s market, they still would rip it up. (Even tho I had more fun listening to JD sing bass than the Chief).

  8. It’s a little absurd to be dogmatic on matters of opinion. πŸ™‚

  9. When I attended the 30th anniversary concert in Nashville – I could not wait for Roy Temble, George Amon Webster & Haskell Cooley to take the stage. The Cathedrals were still somewhat “stealth” during their time together – but were outstanding. I remember attending a concert in 1976 featuring the Thrasher Brothers, J. D. Sumner & the Stamps and Cathedrals – and the Cathedrals blew them all out of the water. Things were a little competitive – but smooth was the one word I remember using. They were all good that night – but the Cathedrals were great!

    In 1976 – most tenors were screamers (Johnny Parrack etc.) – but Roy Temble was smooth. A baritone naturally – but so very pleasant at tenor. Never reached the highest of notes – but was a great ensemble or quartet tenor.

    I saw the Danny, Mark & Gerald combo many times, and they were tremendous. Mark and Gerald continue to this day to be the very top of their positions. This was a great group no doubt. But my personal preference was Roy & George Amon.

    Roger will always be my favorite pianist.


  10. It’s a little absurd to be dogmatic on matters of opinion. πŸ™‚

    Daniel, I realize you put a smiley face next to that comment to indicate that it was lighthearted, but come on!:-)

    Dogmatic? Dean was just expressing his opinion…one, BTW, that far more people hold to than the one you expressed.

    What is more absurd…a man who has listened to hundreds of gospel quartets and comes to a conclusion on their merits based on that background, or a (devoted)fan who is a relative newcomer to gospel quartet music making such sweeping statements as the final Cathedral Quartet brought “…a certain something to the stage that no other quartet has captured before or since”?

    Dogmatic? Thy name is Daniel…:-)

    Incidentally, I don’t agree with either of you(but my own opinion is far closer to Dean’s than yours), but I will comment on this whole “my group is better than your group” business in one of my upcoming blog entries.

    Oh, and give a careful listen to the original Cathedrals again…before you so easily hoist the 70s version above them.:-)

  11. Inquirer, I’ve listened to every LP the original Cathedrals recorded, except maybe one (I forget.) At any rate, I think I have a fair idea of what they sounded like. πŸ™‚

  12. Well put Daniel!!!

  13. Thanks, Larry! πŸ™‚

  14. Daniel
    Perhaps Inquirer would let us know where his blog is so we can read his promised upcoming post about “My Group Is Better Than Yours.”

  15. JLS, it is . Even if we differ once in a while, I really like him and his blog. It’s generally a pretty positive and friendly read.

    Inquirer, please keep in mind when writing your post that this post was not “the second best group ever,” but “my second favorite Cathedrals lineup.” It is possible to have favorites without saying that they were the best ever. πŸ™‚

  16. Well said young Daniel, and you too John with that strike of fire from the glory days.
    Daniel, I am glad that you clarified your own words with that last post using the “Favorite” definition.

    NOW for my most “favorite” which incidentally also happens to be the “best ever”…Ha!

    The Mark and Danny Cats with Roger OR Gerald stand tallest. They were the “breakout group”…They set the bar with “Champion of Love”, “I Just Started Living”, “God Himself A Lamb”, “Heavenly Parade” and on and on…Kirk was there when this trend started so tip your hat to him but Danny was the sound, George was the show, Mark was the glue and Glen was the dough!

    The two biggest reasons (humanly speaking) for their amazing ride down the stretch had nothing to do with their personel at the time (Ernie and Scott are friends and great talents and carried on in the glory)…but with circumstances beyond their control and yes…the goodwill of the fans built up over the years by their steadfast devotion to their craft.

    Not sure this is the place to give my full opinion but I think I have said enough to stand my ground a little.
    Alas…everyone is entitled to their own “favorite”…thanks again…I love blogging with you.

    PJ / The Prophets…2007

    • Please clarify, for me, your signature, “The Prophets.”

      I am a Prophets fan from back in the early years. I had one Prophet album in the 60’s, loaned it and never got it back. Today, it’s a collector’s item. I just recovered a Jim Wesson/Goss Brothers album, Wesson’s first solo. I don’t know how old it is but it has to go back into the 60″s also. I wouldn’t take anything for it after having recovered it after so many years.

  17. Daniel, I believe I clarified in tmy blog posting in response to this entry that you were referring to your second favorite Cathedral Quartet.

    Haste makes waste…so read what I say carefully, s’il vous plait.:-)

  18. Sounds good, except for that last part. I don’t know French.


    • Literally, “s’il vous Plait,” if you please.

  19. S’il vous plait simply means “please”(I was taught manners, though not French, as a kid).

    BTW, the “open thread” idea sounds good…just hope you can afford the royalty payments you’ll have to send Doug…lol

  20. FYI – the Dean who commented above is NOT me…although the Statesmen are my favorite group.

    Dean Adkins

  21. Thank you for the clarification. I’d seen the “Dean” and assumed it was you without checking the additional post information. Though I know you really like the Statesmen, I’d hoped you wouldn’t put it quite that bluntly.


  22. This line-up was basically my introduction to the Cathedrals, so it’s by far my favorite. To me, with Roy Tremble on tenor, George and Glen came closer than they ever had to sounding like one of those classic Statesmen lineups… with Roy channeling Rosie, Glenn doing his best Jake, and George doing Chief… they were there. Plus, with George Amon singing a “heavy” baritone, it was one of the only lineups where the baritone didn’t sing a part that was normally higher than Payne. You may all think I’m crazy, but this lineup’s version of “Statue of Liberty” is the best on record… and that includes the Couriers original.

  23. It was my mistake as well, Daniel…when I saw the name “Dean”, and read the comments(and know Dr. Adkins is an unabashed Statesmen partisan)…I just assumed it was he.

    That’s what happens when I add 2 and 2 and don’t double-check by counting my fingers! LOL!

  24. The last Cats (ernie, scott, and roger) were the absolute best. In fact, they were the ones selling out the huge arenas and selling thousands of records and appearing on the Today show, etc. None of the other Cathedral groups had the national following that the last group did. They had accomplishments that no other SG group will ever be able to replicate.

  25. After all the years since the Cathedrals retired in 1999, I am like ALL their fans…still miss them every day, still listen to their music, and still marvel at how beloved they were (probably more than any other group, ever). My love for quartet music goes back to the 1950s lineup of the Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers, so I have heard the shining best over the years. And it makes me happy that the Cathedrals…so very dear to me, both personally and professionally…are on practically everyone’s list of “best quartet of all time”. George and Glen, and all the talented men who sang with them and played for them over the years, made a mark on Gospel music that will only be able to be fully evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Now that Roger Darlin’ (yes, “D.”, his middle initial, always stood for Darlin’ to me) has joined them in Heaven, I love to think of the three of them in a prominent place in the Angel Band! What a blessing to have known these dear men, watch them “walk the walk”, and observe the influence they continue to have on a younger SG generation today.

  26. Cat Lover, the last group was my favorite, but the previous members helped George and Glen pave the way for the huge arenas, Today show, etc.

    I realize that everybody realizes that. The real reason that I posted was to have my name right under Diane Wilkinson’s! πŸ™‚

    Clarence Grigsby

  27. Clarence is on the right track, the later versions of the Cathedrals built on things the earlier versions did and for that matter the Cathedrals built on things earlier groups did. With that said, my favorite version of the Cathedrals and who I think took them further was Danny, Mark and Roger. However, Gerald is next in line and in some ways actually perhaps helped take them further than with Roger since he was involved with the Symphony of Praise project and the lead on “Champion of Love”. By the time the last group came together the momentum was already going pretty full speed. Granted “Oh, What A Savior” was big for them, they did the “High and Lifted Up” album which had some great tunes and arrangements as well. Also though, we should also consider though that they were on the Gaither thing after the last group was together and that surely helped their popularity by leaps and bounds. They had that advantage that the previous ones didn’t (although Gaither helped them immensely prior with the Praise Gathering performances, Jubilate performances and in between I believe (or maybe even first) the arrangements and production on the “Something Special” lp.

    And Daniel, I hate to disagree with you (who am I kidding, no I don’t πŸ˜‰ )but I have it on good authority you prefer the Ernie, Glen, Trammell and Younce version over the the Ernie, Glen, Fowler and Younce, so there is a question about the following statement: “There’s no question that the Haase/Fowler/Bennett Cathedrals are my favorite.”. πŸ˜€

    • Of course, you’re right. It’s just that that lineup stayed together so briefly that it sometimes slips my mind! πŸ™‚

      • “Of course, you’re right.”
        I like hearing that, let’s try it again.
        “Of course, you’re right.”
        Yeah, that’s the stuff. πŸ˜‰


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