Singer Vern Gosdin, who recorded country music hits like the award-winning “Chiseled in Stone” during a 30-year career, has died. He was 74.
Michael Illobre, funeral director at Mount Olivet Funeral Home in Nashville, said Wednesday that Gosdin was under hospice care and died late Tuesday at an area hospital.
The singer’s administrative assistant, Dawn Hall, said Gosdin had a history of strokes and suffered the latest one a few weeks ago.
“We were quite hopeful there for a while because he was showing signs of coming back,” Hall said.
Until earlier this month, she said, “He was independent and telling me what to do.” He released a box set in December and was renovating his tour bus for an appearance at the Country Music Association’s annual festival in June.
“Chiseled in Stone” was voted 1989 song of the year by the CMA. In the tune, an older man tells a younger man who is going through tough times, “You don’t know about sadness ’til you faced life alone, you don’t know about lonely ’til it’s chiseled in stone.”
Gosdin, who was known as “The Voice,” had several other hits in the 1970s and ’80s including “Set ’em Up Joe,” “I Can Tell by the Way You Dance” and “I’m Still Crazy.”
A number of contemporary country stars mourned the loss.
“He was one hell of a country singer and helped me out a lot on my very first tour,” George Strait said in a statement.
Josh Turner called Gosdin a “singer of sad songs.”
“The news of Vern’s death puts me beyond sad,” Turner said. “He was one of my unofficial vocal coaches. He taught me what ‘country soul music’ was. Country music has lost one of its ambassadors.”
During his career, he sang gospel music, bluegrass, folk-rock and then country. He had a rich baritone, and was once described by Tammy Wynette as “the only other singer who can hold a candle to George Jones.”
He once said he used life experiences in his music.
“Out of everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough — and I got 10 hits out of my last divorce,” he said after the breakup of his third marriage in 1989.
Gosdin wrote or co-wrote many of his recordings. In the late 1960s, he also wrote “Someone to Turn To,” which was recorded by the Byrds for the soundtrack of the movie “Easy Rider.”
He was born in Woodland, Ala., where he grew up chopping cotton and singing on the Gosdin family gospel music show.
His fans are circulating a petition to get him into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hall said.
“We’re going to push and push and push and get him the recognition he deserves,” she said. “Fans leave him so many messages all the time. ... He inspired so many people.”
A public visitation is planned for Saturday at Mount Olivet Funeral Home.
Gosdin is survived by a son.