Country Musician-Songwriter Rusty Golden, Son of Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden, Dies at 65

RMAG news

William “Rusty” Golden, a musician, songwriter and son of The Oak Ridge Boys member William Lee Golden, died July 1, 2024 at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was 65.

Golden was born Jan. 3, 1959 in Brewton, Alabama and was the eldest son of William and Frogene Golden. By age 13, he was playing drums for the band The Rambos, featuring songwriter Dottie Rambo. He wrote his first song by setting one of his grandmother’s poems to music. After being inspired by an Elton John concert in 1972, Golden began learning to play piano and by 17, he was touring with Larry Gatlin as a keyboard player, before playing on studio recordings including Gatlin’s 1977 album Love Is Just a Game, Marty Stuart’s 1999 concept project Pilgrim and more.

A few years later, he moved further into the spotlight, forming The Boys Band, with the group recording their debut album which included the 1982 song “Runner” (the song’s video was the first produced in Nashville for MTV) and “Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m on Fire),” which entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The group disbanded in 1984.

That same year, Golden earned an RIAA Gold record as a songwriter for The Oak Ridge Boys’ Bobbie Sue album, which encouraged Golden to start writing songs with Marc Speer. In 1985, Golden and Speer launched Golden Speer, which included Golden’s brother Chris Golden on lead vocals. By the following year, the label had shifted directions, with Rusty and Chris recording as the duo The Goldens and releasing the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart entries “Put Us Together Again” and “Sorry Girls.”

They moved to Capitol/SBK Records and issued the 1990 album Rush For Gold, which included the songs “Take Me Back (To the Country),” “Keep the Faith” and “Long Gone.” Rusty then returned to his gospel music roots, writing songs including the 2008 songs “What Salvation’s Done For Me” from The Booth Brothers, and Karen Peck & New River’s “I Want to Thank You.” He also released the solo albums Sober and Angels.

In 2020, Rusty and Chris teamed with William Lee Golden for the family band William Lee Golden and the Goldens. They were joined by brother Craig, nieces Elizabeth and Rebekah and nephew Elijah to create a three-generation family band. The group released a trio of projectsCountry Roads: Vintage Country Classics, Old Country Church Gospel and Southern Accents: Pop & Country Rock. Last year, Rusty was honored for his musicianship when he was named keyboard player of the year at the Josie Music Awards.

William Lee Golden said in a statement, “This is the hardest thing ever for a father to have to face. I love 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.”

Rusty Golden is preceded in death by his mother Frogene Normand, grandparents Luke & Rutha Mae Golden, and Elliot & Estelle Normand. He is survived by his father William Lee Golden (Simone), and brothers Craig Golden, Chris Golden (Marie), and Solomon Golden, as well as many nieces, nephews, other extended family members.