Gospel Great Jerry Goff Passes

Jerry Goff and Jan Buckner Goff. Photo: BSA

Jerry Goff, the 84-year old founder and leader of the Southern-gospel act The Singing Goffs will be buried in Nashville tomorrow (Tuesday, July 23).

Known as “Mr. Gospel Trumpet,” Goff was a preacher, an author, a TV personality, a singer, an emcee and a songwriter, as well as an instrumentalist.

The Singing Goffs had several hits in their genre, including “I’ll See You in the Rapture,” “Please Search the Book Again,” “Tear Stains in the Sand,” “Who Do I Know In Heaven?” and “I Am Blessed.”

Jerry Goff was a co-founder and lifetime board member of the Gospel Music Association. In 2002, he was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, TN.

The Singing Goffs won a GMA Dove Award in 1970, and were chosen to represent the USA at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1984.

With Jerry Goff at its helm, the group released more than 25 albums between 1970 and 1990. In its various lineups, the Goffs recorded for Majestic Music, Lighthouse, CAM, Songs of Faith and Skylite Records.

Goff was the son of a Church of God preacher who was born in South Carolina. After attending Lee College in Cleveland, TN, he sang several gospel groups, including The LeFevres.

He rose to prominence in 1967-71, when he was a member of The Thrasher Brothers troupe. He formed The Singing Goffs in 1971, and the act began recording immediately.

The group’s live albums of 1973 and 1984 are particularly well regarded. So is its late-career collection, Don’t Give Up of 1986.

By the 1980s, the group was one of the most sought after on the Southern-gospel circuit. Goff was named Male Vocalist of the Year in 1984 by Gospel Music News.

During his career, Goff earned a B.A. from the University of Tennessee, a masters degree from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate certificate from Emmanuel Baptist University.

He wrote most of the songs that the Goffs popularized. A number of notable vocalists passed through the group’s ranks, including Bill Dykes, Dave Rowland, Barry Hess, Wally Goff, Dave Thomas, Tank Tackett and Gary Valentine.

In addition to the tunes listed above, the group was associated with “God’s Gonna Getcha For That,” “Guilty,” “His Name Lives On,” “When My Name Is Called in Glory,” “Jesus Will Never Say No,” “Tears Will Stop,” “The Tree God Grew” and “Tucked in With Jesus.” His trumpet playing was always a highlight of the group’s performances.

Jerry Goff married “Little” Jan Buckner of the Southern-gospel group Wendy Bagwell & The Sunlighters, and in later years, Jerry and Jan performed together. She survives her husband.

Following the group’s dissolution, Goff became an in-demand evangelist, show emcee, revival leader and entertainer on the “Singing at Sea” cruises. He and Jan co-hosted the Creekside Gospel Music Conventions in East Tennessee for several years. He was also a familiar figure at the annual National Quartet Convention.

A songwriter since childhood, Goff also published several inspirational books and poems.

A resident of Hiram, GA, Jerry Goff died in Atlanta on July 12. His initial funeral service was held in Powder Springs, GA on July 20. The Goff family will hold a graveside service on Tuesday (7/23) at 2 P.M. at Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville.

In addition to Jan Buckner Goff, he is survived by brothers Wally and Don Goff, by children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces.

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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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