Gary McSpadden, a Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer and former member of the Oak Ridge Boys, is dead at the age of 77. McSpadden died on Wednesday (April 15), after a battle with cancer.
McSpadden grew up in Lubbock, Texas, in a musical family. His father and mother, Boyd and Helen McSpadden, were songwriters, and Boyd was also the pastor of Faith Temple in Lubbock, where Gary began singing from an early age. By the time he was 18 he was filling in for Jake Hess in the Imperials, and after just a few months, he began working with the Oak Ridge Quartet, who changed their name to the Oak Ridge Boys in short order.
McSpadden recorded three albums as a member of the Oak Ridge Boys, beginning with "He Whispers Sweet Peace to Me" in 1962 for Skylite Records. The group moved to Warner Bros. for "With Sounds of Nashville" later in 1962, and followed up with "Folk Minded Spirituals for Spiritual Minded Folk" in 1963 before McSpadden left to join Hess in Jake Hess and the Imperials.
During his tenure with the Imperials, the group sang backup to Elvis Presley, and McSpadden went on to perform with other top gospel groups of that era including the Bill Gaither Trio and, later, the Gaither Vocal Band. He also recorded a long string of well-respected solo projects as a gospel singer, and he had an active career as a songwriter whose songs included "Jesus Lord to Me,” “Hallelujah Praise the Lamb” and “No Other Name but Jesus.”