Country music singer-songwriter Vern Gosdin dies

Times Staff And Wire Reports

Vern Gosdin, a singer-songwriter whose “Chiseled in Stone” was named the Country Music Assn.'s song of the year in 1989, has died. He was 70.

FOR THE RECORD: An obituary in Wednesday’s A section said the country music singer-songwriter was 70 when he died. Gosdin was 74.

Gosdin died late Tuesday at a Nashville hospital, according to Michael Illobre, funeral director at Mount Olivet Funeral Home in Nashville. The singer reportedly had suffered a stroke a few weeks ago.

Specializing in straight-ahead, traditional country music, Gosdin spent decades making music. His hits included “Set ‘em Up Joe,” “I Can Tell by the Way You Dance,” “I’m Still Crazy,” “That Just About Does It,” “Who You Gonna Blame It on This Time,” “Way Down Deep,” “Dream of Me” and “Yesterday’s Gone,” a duet with Emmylou Harris.

In “Chiseled in Stone,” 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.”

During his career, Gosdin sang gospel music, bluegrass, folk-rock and country. He had a rich baritone, and once was described by Tammy Wynette as “the only other singer who can hold a candle to George Jones.”

Known as “The Voice,” Gosdin 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 second 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.”

Gosdin was born Aug. 5, 1934, in Woodland, Ala., one of nine children who grew up on a farm. He learned to play guitar and sang on the Gosdin family gospel music radio show in Birmingham, Ala.

He moved with his brother Rex to Southern California in 1961. While working as a welder in Long Beach, Vern Gosdin joined his brother and banjo player Don Parmley in a bluegrass group called the Golden State Boys. When Chris Hillman joined the band, they renamed themselves the Hillmen. Hillman later left to form the seminal folk-rock band the Byrds, and the true-to-country Gosdin Brothers appeared as an opening act on tour.

The Gosdin Brothers had a minor country hit with “Hangin’ On,” but broke up in the late 1960s. Gosdin moved to Atlanta and opened a glass and mirror business, but he returned to music in the mid-1970s.

His survivors include a son.