Country Music Hall Of Famer William Lee Golden Mourns The Loss Of His Son, Rusty Golden

“This is the hardest thing ever for a father to have to face…”


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

July 2, 2024


3:27 pm

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William Lee Golden, Rusty Golden; Photos Provided

William Lee Golden, a Country Music Hall of Famer and member of The Oak Ridge Boys, is mourning the loss of his son, William “Rusty” Golden. 

Rusty passed away at the age of 65 on July 1, 2024, at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. 

“This is the hardest thing ever for a father to have to face. I love my family more than anything,” William Lee Golden shared in a statement following his son’s passing. “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 photographed by Kris Rae Orlowski
Rusty Golden photographed by Kris Rae Orlowski

According to a statement shared via the group’s official social media accounts, the family is asking for privacy amid the “difficult time.”  

Born on January 3, 1959, in Brewton, Alabama, William “Rusty” Golden was the eldest son of William and Frogene Golden. He was born William Lee Golden, Jr. after his father, but his family started calling him “Rusty” shortly after his birth.

Always surrounded by music, Rusty began to show an interest in making music at a young age. In 6th grade, around the age of 12, he was already proficient in playing drums. At 13, he began playing drums professionally for The Rambos, featuring the legendary songwriter, Dottie Rambo.

Rusty’s songwriting career was influenced by his grandmother and great-grandfather’s love of poetry. His paternal grandmother, a prolific poet, often had her work published in the town’s newspaper. Growing up, Rusty understood the connection between words and music and composed his first song by setting his grandmother’s poetry to music.

In 1972, everything changed for Rusty when he attended an Elton John concert. He was truly inspired and decided to tackle the art of playing piano. He began touring with Larry Gatlin when he was just 17 years old and eventually played on several studio recordings, including Larry Gatlin’s “Love Is Just A Game” and Marty Stuart’s “Pilgrim.”

By age 20, Rusty was recording at Quadraphonic Studios in Nashville for ABC Records. Shortly after, he helped form The Boys Band. Within two years, the group was recording their debut album for Elektra/Asylum Records at CARIBOU RANCH in Nederland, Colorado. The album produced the single “Runner,” which became the first music video produced in Nashville for MTV in 1982, and “Please Don’t Stop Me Baby,” which landed on Billboard’s Hot 100. The group disbanded in 1984.

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That same year, Rusty received an RIAA Gold Record for his songwriting contributions to The Oak Ridge Boys’ ‘Bobbie Sue’ album and the legendary Barry White. This recognition encouraged Rusty to begin writing songs with Marc Speer.

In 1985, Rusty and Marc Speer founded the group Golden Speer, featuring Rusty’s brother Chris Golden on lead vocals. Although their album was never released, the label changed directions in 1986, leading Rusty and Chris to record under the name The Goldens, releasing two singles as a newly formed duo. They moved to Capitol/SBK Records and released the album Rush for Gold in 1990. This critically acclaimed album produced three charting singles and videos: “Take Me Back to The Country,” “Keep The Faith,” and “Long Gone.”

After undergoing a quadruple bypass, Rusty experienced a “change of heart” and returned to his gospel roots, garnering several #1 Southern Gospel songs and two Song of the Year awards for “What Salvation’s Done for Me” by The Booth Brothers and “I Want to Thank You” by Karen Peck & New River.

William Lee Golden and The Goldens; Photo by Michael Jenkins
William Lee Golden and The Goldens; Photo by Michael Jenkins

In March 2020, Rusty, Chris, and William Lee began working on a vision for a family band called William Lee Golden and The Goldens. They recorded and released 34 songs from 2020 to 2021, with brother Craig, nieces Elizabeth and Rebekah, and nephew Elijah joining the group, making it a true three-generation family band. They traveled the country performing songs from their three most recent albums—Country Roads: Vintage Country Classics, Old Country Church Gospel, and Southern Accents: Pop & Country Rock. The family performed several times on the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. In 2023, Rusty was honored on the Opry stage as the Keyboard Player of The Year by the Josie Music Awards.

In addition to his extensive accolades as a songwriter and musician, Rusty Golden will be remembered as a charismatic entertainer who captivated audiences with his energetic live performances. Whether on the Opry stage or performing in Bahrain, Rusty was known for his riveting talent that transcended borders. Above all, Rusty will be remembered as one of those Nashville cats everyone wanted to play music with, co-write a song, or just hang out with. He had a unique ability to elevate any experience with his talent, wit, and charm.

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), brothers Craig Golden, Chris Golden (Marie), and Solomon Golden, along with many nieces, nephews, other extended family members, close friends, and fans.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.