Jordanaires Member Gordon Stoker Dead at 88
Gordon Stoker, a longtime member of the Country Music Hall of Fame group the Jordanaires, died on Wednesday (March 27) after long illness. The tenor’s influence on country music cannot be measured by chart hits and album sales, but his group’s contribution to what became known as the Nashville Sound is as important as any famed producer, songwriter or executive.
The list of songs the gospel-trained group appear on could make a short list of the best songs in country music history. ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline, ‘Stand By Your Man’ by Tammy Wynette, ‘Hello Darlin” by Conway Twitty and ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ by George Jones are just a few. They also worked with Kenny Rogers (‘Lucille’), Johnny Horton and Elvis Presley, recording ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ amongst others with the King.
Stoker was not an original member of the Jordanaires, but in 1949 was brought on to replace pianist Bob Money. During his long career he would anchor the group as tenor and lead vocalist as well as pianist. The group’s gospel catalog earned them election to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. The next year they were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. As a group, they traveled worldwide and frequently played Las Vegas.
Gleason, Tenn.-born Stoker was playing piano by age eight, having grown up in a musical family. According to an obituary at the Country Music Hall of Fame website, he joined the John Daniel Quartet after high school, but left for the Air Force in 1943. Afterward he returned to the quartet, before signing with the Jordanaires later in the decade.
The Associated Press reports that Stoker died in his home in Brentwood, Tenn. He was 88.