Gold City’s Golden age, remembered

David Bruce Murray notices the tippee-toe routine going on in the press release announcing the “reunion” of famous former Gold City members NOT named Riley.

How many ways can you avoid using the words “Gold City” while simultaneously milking the reputation of the organization for every ounce of publicity it’s worth?


I fully understand why a press release such as this would avoid refering to the event as a “Gold City Reunion.” It isn’t an official Gold City reunion, obviously…just an event where three former members of the group will be appearing. What I don’t get is the tiptoeing around any direct use of the name.

“These three friends toured extensively together throughout the 80’s (sic) and early 90’s (sic)”

Now, what would be wrong with adding “as members of the award winning group, Gold City” to that sentence? Nothing at all. It’s a simple statement of fact. Maybe they’re trying to avoid upsetting the current owners of Gold City, but there’s little argument to be made with merely stating what we all know to be true.

I wonder if the reluctance to use the Gold City name has anything to do with the experience that former Cats members not named Younce or Haase had when they used the Cathedral name in the PR for their “reunion.” If so – and if the reason the Cathedral name disappeared from the Cats tribute concerts was the result of lawyerly strong-arming – that’s a shame. I don’t know trademark law very well, but I’d be surprised if there’s an actionable offense in either usage. Hate to see plain ole factual reality shouldered under this way by greed, pettiness, or whatever else motivates people to bicker over who should benefit from what part of a shared past.

Anyway, you gotta admire the audacity of these former Gold City guys … Brian Free, Ivan Parker, and Garry Jones … I mean, they’re essentially staging a memorial concert for Gold City’s “golden” years, even while the group is still on the road and trying to refoot itself. It’s been all down hill for Gold City ever since us, this event seems to say. Is there a Diamond Award for most chutzpah?

But they will make a pretty decent trio, don’t you think?

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  1. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Yes, those three should sound terrific singing together. Maybe this could be the birth of another “The Trio.”

  2. Diana wrote:

    This is going to be a terrific concert. Maybe there will even be one or more encore performances????

  3. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    This kind of discussion is either a PR person delight or nightmare dependance on which side of the fence you are on the situation.

  4. Chuck Peters wrote:

    Any news person who received the press release (mentioned).. should have re-written and included the missing information. It would be incomplete to run the story and not mention GOLD CITY.

    I don’t know who or what what the PR writer feels he needs to protect by not mentioning GC,.. but I can’t imagine anyone having any basis to sue someone for saying these guys once toured with GC.

    Advertising it as a GOLD CITY reunion or something.. might be a different deal,.. but for a press release.. or news article.. the GC reference should have been included.

  5. Jeff wrote:

    When Brian, Ivan, and Garry performed as a mini Gold City reunion in a concert in my city a few years ago, it was nick named a Golden Reunion as not to impose on the Gold City name without Tim Riley

  6. clyde wrote:

    Could it possibly be the reason the guys left in the first place? Maybe a promise of partnership that never developed? Why promote a group name (or bass singer slash bus owner) that never lived up to it’s word? I commend the guys for having a reunion of personalities that went on to build something on their own in spite of a former group situation.

  7. thom wrote:

    On the Brian Free and Assurance DVD “Greater Still” that came out a couple of years ago there is some “bonus footage” of Brian, Ivan, and Mike Lefevre getting together and doing 3 of the old songs including “When I Get Carried Away” , “Midnight Cry” and “I Think I’ll Read it Again.”

    This concert you are mentioning with Mercy’s Mark, Brian Free and Assurance, and Ivan Parker should be a great evening.

    I wonder if Mike Lefevre and his quartet will be there, too. Now that would be great.

  8. T.G. wrote:

    Hi. I’ve always wondered why Ivan, Brain, and Mike left back in the mid 90’s. I loved that group, but the Parrack, Wilburn, Trammel, Riley lineup was every bit as good or better–AND the current lineup, Ladd, Wilburn, Riley, McCune, is unsurpassed in gospel-quartet music today. Listen to the past and present recordings and you will notice the difference in the blend and power, as well as the great song selection. I do wish that there could be a reunion of all past and present members. What a great time that would be!

  9. Jeff Gurnett wrote:

    T.G. - With all due respect you could very well be out of your mind. ; )

    The lineup with Brian, Ivan, Steve Lacey, Tim and Garry was the best Gold City lineup and one of the top quartets of all time. Pillars of Faith, Acapella Gold… that lineup was pure magic.

  10. Lynn wrote:

    I am personal friends with the promoter of this group. He contacted Brian, Ivan and Garry separately along with their groups for this concert. They really don’t have anything to do with the promotion of it at all. I think it’s just intended to be a great night of music and fun for the fans.

  11. T.G. wrote:

    Thanks for the nice comment, Jeff. I assume you are a brother in Christ. I now feel chastised…thanks!

    IMHO, without mentioning names, there is no nasal tenor sticking out like a sore thumb in the current G.C. lineup–just poweful singers Listen, my friend.

  12. Jeff Gurnett wrote:

    TG - Look, I’m very much a fan of the current Gold City and really, really like their Revival project. But if you want to talk about someone sticking out you would be hard-pressed to overlook Wilburn in that respect.

    And your point about Brian Free sticking out is interesting in that Steve Ladd has always been very, very similar vocally to Brian. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher…

  13. Jeff wrote:

    Sorry, the Brian, Ivan, Mike, Tim was the best lineup barnone. They had way better song selection not to mention that Gold City releasing I’m Rich is pretty weak as a single.

  14. Chuck Peters wrote:

    I miss GC with Benny Blackburn.

  15. Jeff Gurnett wrote:

    Jeff - While we disagree on which was the better lineup and who had the better song selection, we can agree that “I’m Rich” was an extremely poor selection to release to radio. It’s probably the weakest song on the recording. Makes me wonder whose idea it was for that song to be the first single. I’m not a big fan of the song anyway but the Nelons version with David Hill was far and away the better cut of that tune.

  16. Paul Jackson wrote:

    Did they not release “Truth is Marching On” first?

    PJ / The Prophets

  17. RF wrote:

    Just a comment. Frankly, the reason its not advertised as a Gold City reunion probably has a lot to do with it not really being one since GC is not present. Chuck’s right. GC should have been mentioned.

    As for “I’m Rich” being a poor radio single, I agree, but that should not take away from the overall performance which was good. It’s just that the song has been over-done and there were a lot more intriguing songs on that wonderful Revival CD.

  18. sg wrote:

    I was wondering the same thing about using “i’m rich” as the single. Even though I still sing along with it when it comes on. However, some record companies haven’t used a lot of wisdom in promoting good singles. I sure hope they single “preach the word”…that is a powerful song both live and on cd. I was hoping they would release “Not Anymore”.

  19. Chuck Peters wrote:

    I’M RICH is a great radio song.. It may not be the best tune on the project.. but singles.. and mass appeal songs that work on radio,.. aren’t always the “best”.. (I know it doesn’t make sense.. but that’s the way it is)

    I thought TRUTH IS MARCHING ON was the first single from “Revival”???

  20. clyde wrote:

    Been watching this thread . . . first of all, Teddy Huffam had the ultimate cut on I’m Rich. . . second . . . EVERY Gold City conglomeration combined cannot stand up to the Quartets of the 50s 60s and 70s. Now I am no Roy Pauley, but ever since the word Southern was applied to this music, there has been a vast void in the quartet world. The last real fun was the early to mid seventies Oaks and Downings. Take out your hymnals and join me in singing Precious Memories . . . .

  21. Angie M wrote:

    #9, I agree. Whatever happened to Steve Lacey?+

  22. Chris Henry wrote:

    Steve Lacey? Isn’t he now working at the WalMart in Wilkesboro? I don’t know, really, but that was a great line up with Steve. Mike was always a very weak voice, and I often wondered how he was voted favorite baritone all those years.

    As far as Brian, Ivan, and Garry getting together, my thoughts are these: Brian still has it, Ivan lost it years ago, and Garry’s strength has always been at the keyboard. My excitement level isn’t too high. A lot of glitz with average substance. Kind of like a Valor concert.

  23. Lynn wrote:

    Hey Chris, not to be rude…but in case you haven’t figured it out, music is very subjective to opinion. What impresses YOU musically may not impress someone else. As far as Mike Lefevre is concerned; his awards were “FAN AWARDS.” Not to take anything away from Mike as a singer(he was good), the people voted him “favorite baritone” because he had a winning personality and the fans really liked him. If this wasn’t true, how do you explain singers in any genre who have had successful careers but were not great singers?

    Ivan Parker in your opinion may not be the singer he once was but there again, it really doesn’t matter does it? He has been very successful and has TONS of FANS! I could go on and on about his success and Brian and Garry’s too. Oh, by the way…there will probably be many people at the “Golden Moments Concert” who feel the same way.They’re called…FANS!

  24. Lottie Squires wrote:

    Chris…What has Valor got to do with this topic? You’re entitled to your opinions, of course, but that was pointless and mean-spirited.

  25. chuck stevens wrote:

    Although i enjoy the current Gold City. They were bigger than life in the 80’s and early 90’s. They had a star power they don’t have now. Vocaly, they can still stand up to most anybody.

  26. wound_loose wrote:


    The valor comment may have been ever so slightly “mean spirited”, but very funny anyway. Keep it up and don’t let the overly uptight bother you.

    By the way, I think it’s Benny Blackburn who is working as a greeter at the Wilkesboro Wal-Mart.

  27. Kyle wrote:

    In my opinion, there were three eras for Gold City. There was the original powerhouse of Brian, Ivan, Mike, and Tim (Gold City 1.0); there was the “reinvention” with Jay, Jonathan, Mark, and Tim (Gold City 1.5); then there’s “Gold City 2.0,” with Steve, Jonathan, Danny, and Aaron.

    1.0 is what made Gold City. There wouldn’t be a GC today if it weren’t for this lineup.

    1.5 is what happened when two obviously more country-sounding members (Mark and Jay) take over. Mark Trammell remains one of my favorite singers, but their overall sound seemed to become less progressive and more traditional (albeit overdone with heavy brass!).

    2.0, to me, is GC with noticably-younger talent trying to fit into the current marketplace. They have a new record deal, new producers, and a more modern sound compared to their previous efforts. Rather than competing with groups like the Kingsmen or Dove Brothers (who rely heavily on the more traditional sound and older crowd), Gold City seems to be poised to compete directly with the likes of Signature Sound and the GVB (and easily beats SSQ, in my opinion!).

    Okay, now that THAT is out, I would think that using Gold City’s name would either imply that Gold City had a hand in arranging the date, or that it is an officially-sanctioned “reunion.” It would be similar to Mark Lowry and Michael English teaming with Terry Franklin or Jim Murray to promote a “Gaither Vocal Band Reunion” (even when Mark and Michael joined with Bill on Mark’s “Hollywood” DVD, minus a GVB tenor, they still were not considered a “reunion”).


  28. Craig wrote:

    I agree with you, Chris. Mike never bothered me as a baritone, but when he was given lead lines I longed to hear him sing harmony instead. That’s the same reaction I have to Scott Fowler — somewhat shaky-sounding baritone surrounded by three capable vocalists. Both versions of GC had a better blend than most other quartets of their day, but Steve was definitely the stronger link in the Gold chain.

  29. Lynn wrote:

    Kyle, you hit the nail on the head with the 1.0 GC. They had singers, stardom and a musical genius in Garry Jones. The only problem the 1.0 GC had was the MC work of Tim. It was just not good at all. The 1.5 GC was a good group and had good singers, they just weren’t as polished as the 1.0 GC group. Just kind of no direction musically although, they had several good songs. It is a shame that Tim couldn’t or wouldn’t keep either group together. I don’t believe that the 2.0 GC is as good vocally or will ever compete with the likes of a GVB! There are no comparisons with the vocals or stage presence.
    Oh, btw! You are correct on the GC and GVB comparrison doing a reunion concert as well! You would just sort of look silly calling it that. An “Evening of Golden Moments” really fills the bill here.

  30. dad wrote:

    I always get confused “Gold City”
    “Crimson Gold”
    now there’s a name you probably haven’t heard in a while

  31. clyde wrote:

    GC 1.0 - That would be Billy Crittendon, Greg Ritchie’s dad and others, right? Upgrades come in numerical order. Often folks don’t like the new version as much as they did the previous one, and “upgrade” is sometimes the wrong term. As for the “Brian/Ivan/Mike/Tim” version, they should have changed the name to White City. That was the most caucasian music I ever heard!

  32. Lynn wrote:

    Sorry Clude, you are wrong on the Billy, Jerry number! The first real group to do anything was with Ivan and didn’t start popping till after Jerry was gone. As for “White City”, I don’t remember a “white” gospel group that could ever be nothing but that, white. I guess the Statesmen were the closet to that because of Chief, he was a “Black” man and not an Indian as was told. Doy was the Indian chief in the group.

  33. GC11 wrote:

    I kinda liked Bob Oliver..btw, Ivan wasn’t on one of my favorite recordings…”Gold City Live!” In My Robe Of White was great!

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