Rusty Golden Dies: Country Musician & Songwriter, Son Of Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden Was 65

Rusty Golden Dies: Country Musician & Songwriter, Son Of Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden Was 65

Rusty Golden, the son of The Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden who went on to his own successful career as a country and gospel music singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, died July 1, at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was 65.

A cause of death was not disclosed.

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“This is the hardest thing ever for a father to have to face,” said William Lee Golden in a statement announcing his son’s death. “I love my family more than anything. Rusty was a great musician, a talented songwriter, and a wonderful son. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the days ahead. I love you, son.”

Born William Lee Golden Jr., on January 3, 1959, in Brewton, AL, Golden was called Rusty while still a baby, and the name stuck. By age 12 he already was a proficient drummer and at 13 began playing professionally as a member of The Rambos, featuring the songwriter Dottie Rambo.

His music-making took a big turn when he attended an Elton John concert in 1972: Gone were the drums in favor of John’s chosen instrument, the piano. By 17 he was touring with country hitmaker Larry Gatlin, playing piano on Gatlin’s 1977 studio album Love Is Just a Game. Other session credits include Marty Stuart’s 1999 concept album The Pilgrim, among many others.

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In the early 1980s Golden co-founded country-rock group The Boys Band, whose 1982 debut album included the minor pop hit “Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m on Fire).” In 1984 Golden received an RIAA Gold Record for his songwriting contributions on The Oak Ridge Boys album Bobbie Sue.

A year later he began writing songs and recording with third-generation gospel singer Marc Speer as Golden Speer, along with Golden’s brother Chris. They recorded a project for CBS Records that went unreleased, but Rusty and Chris pressed on as The Goldens and inked with Epic Records in 1986. They released a pair of singles that made Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1988 — “Put Us Together Again” and “Sorry Girls” — and recorded an album that was shelved.

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The Goldens then signed with Capitol/SBK Records, and their 1990 album Rush for Gold produced the country-charting single “Keep the Faith.”

Following a quadruple bypass, Golden returned to his gospel roots, writing, among other songs, “What Salvation’s Done for Me” for The Booth Brothers and “I Want to Thank You” for Karen Peck & New River. He also released two solo albums, the Christian-focused Angels and recovery-themed Sober.


In 2020-21, the Golden brothers and father William Lee recorded and released 34 songs as The Goldens, performing several times at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2023, Golden stepped on the Opry stage to accept Keyboard Player of the Year by the Josie Music Awards.

Golden is survived by his father William Lee Golden; stepmother Simone; brothers Craig, Chris and Solomon Golden; and other extended family members. He was preceded in death by mother Frogene Normand, and grandparents Luke & Rutha Mae Golden and Elliot & Estelle Normand.

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