In 1980, five men in Dahlonega, Georgia came together to form what is now one of the most celebrated and most beloved Southern Gospel groups, Gold City. The original lineup consisted of Bob Oliver (Tenor), Jerry Ritchie (Lead), Ken Trussell (Baritone), Dallas Gilliland (Bass) and Larry Goddard (Piano). Gilliland would be replaced shortly after formation with a man who has since become synonymous with the group, Tim Riley.
A multiple Singing News Fan Award winner and Gospel Music Hall of Fame member, Tim Riley is well known for his incredibly rich and clear bass voice. Riley became a stalwart member (until 2004, and later 2014) of the group whose lineup has experienced many changes over the years.
Many great vocalists have lent their talents to this popular group including: tenors Brian Free, Jay Parrack and Steve Ladd, leads Ivan Parker and Jonathan Wilburn, as well as baritones Mike LeFevre and Mark Trammell and bass singers Bill Lawrence and Aaron McCune. Each of these men has carried on the legacy of Gold City with their own groups, which include Brian Free and Assurance, Jay Parrack and Vocal Event, Mark Trammell Quartet, and Wilburn and Wilburn. Despite all of the changes, one thing remains the same: their desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their love of Southern Gospel Music. Each lineup maintains that distinctive Gold City sound and today’s group does not stray from this at all.
Daniel Riley, one of Tim Riley’s talented sons, has sung baritone for the group since the departure of Mark Trammell in 2002. He also serves as the owner and manager of the now legendary quartet. Riley’s excitement for this group clearly shows, as evidenced by the following statement: “One of the all-time highlights has been traveling with my dad. This has been something I never thought I’d be doing.” His father Tim Riley rejoined the group as the bass singer in 2009 after a brief retirement. Tim remained with the group full time until last year when he suffered a stroke.
Tim Riley is currently on the mend and is doing well. In his place, audiences are treated to the booming bass voice of former Mercy’s Mark vocalist Chris West, who according to Daniel Riley, “came on as a long-term interim fill-in,” but now has assumed the role full-time. Riley has high praise for West saying, “Since Dad is only doing select touring dates at this time, Chris has been a blessing and great addition to our group.”
Following the departure of tenor Dan Keeton in 2013, former Palmetto State Quartet member Robert Fulton joined the quartet. Fulton’s clear, resonant tenor voice stays true to the classic Gold City sound and delights audiences all over the world.
Bryan Elliott, formerly of the Perrys, has served as the pianist for the group since 2010. Elliott’s skill on the keys is comparable to Anthony Burger and Gordon Mote.
Rounding out the group is lead singer Chip Pullen, whose powerhouse vocals and great personality have endeared him to the fans. Pullen joined Gold City in 2013 after performing with the Anchormen for a number of years. In addition to the vocalists, another vital part of the group is road manager and sound man Chuck Howe.
Now in their 35th year, Gold City is still going strong. Dedicated to spreading the Gospel to all people, the quartet continues to delight audiences around the world. The country of Brazil recently played host to the group as they performed in several cities. Riley had this to say concerning memorable trips, “We just got back from a very memorable trip to Brazil. We were also privileged to tour in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was a great experience too.” The quartet is also dedicated to producing quality recordings that feature great vocals and showcase the powerful message of the Gospel.
Speaking of quality recordings, Gold City’s latest mainline effort Hymn Revival, released in 2014, is a powerful collection of treasured songs of the Church as only Gold City can sing them. Listeners will surely be blessed by songs such as the tender “He Hideth My Soul,” the anthem feel of “Power of The Cross,” and the fresh twist to “Farther Along,” featuring Tim Riley’s classic bass voice. The younger Riley states, “Gordon Mote and I co-produced it and we have been thrilled at the response it has been given. We released two singles from this project so far and both have reached the Top 20 at radio. ‘Part The Waters’ and ‘Power Of The Cross’ have both been met with much excitement by our fans.”
This recording joins a long list of incredible CDs recorded by the group over their long history. The current lineup is clearly inspired by the quartets of old. Riley exclaims, “[The] Blackwood Brothers, Statesmen, and everyone dad has been with, Dixie Echoes, Southmen, and Gold City have all shaped me musically.”
This beloved quartet has experienced great success over their long career as evidenced by their many awards and accolades. Among these are Singing News Fan Awards for Favorite Group (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993), Favorite Traditional Male Quartet (2000, 2001, 2003), Album of the Year (1989 – Movin’ Up; 1991 – Windows Of Home; 1993 & 1994 – Pillars Of Faith; 2001 – Are You Ready), Song of the Year (1987 – When I Get Carried Away; 1988 – Midnight Cry; 1993 – There Rose A Lamb), Favorite Band (1998, 2000),and Favorite Video (1988 – Moving Up To Gloryland; 1989 – Movin’ Up; 1992 – KingsGold with the Kingsmen Quartet). They have also had several number one songs including: “Midnight Cry,” “When I Get Carried Away,” “I’m Not Giving Up,” “In Time, On Time, Every Time,” and most recently “Peter, James, And John.”
Now in 2015, Gold City plans to continue to use their talents for the Lord. This year will be a monumental one for the quartet. “We are preparing for a new recording this summer, listening to songs and making plans to go into the studio soon. We are slated to do several tour dates with some former Gold City alumni as part of the Heritage of Gold Tour. We join Wilburn and Wilburn, The LeFevre Quartet, and Jay Parrack and Steve Ladd for those dates. We hope folks will keep an eye on our tour schedule for those,” exclaims Daniel Riley. Tim Riley fans should not despair, as his son explains: “We also have several dates that will include my father. Tim Riley is still very much in demand and can forevermore still sing, even if I do say so as a biased son. He will be with us at Gadsden, AL on July 11th; at Silver Dollar City in August, and Springfield, MO in November, just to name a few of the dates he’s confirmed to be at.”
Even with this great success, Riley and the rest of the quartet are humble and stay true to the call. He states, “Gold City just wants to continue to bring to our audiences great Gospel music and the life-changing message of the Gospel. If we can help our audiences to escape the cares of the world for a couple of hours and encourage them that Jesus loves them and is for them, and wants to save their souls and be Lord of their life, then our day is complete.” These men truly love the Lord, believe the message of their songs, and delight fans with their incredible talent. This is what truly makes Gold City: 24-karat gold!
by Justin Gilmore
First published by SGN Scoops in July 2015.
In August, it was announced that Thomas Pullen was replacing Robert Fulton as tenor for Gold City Quartet.