|Birth: ||Jul. 25, 1935|
|Death: ||Mar. 20, 1972|
Born and reared in Pulaski, Tennessee, Smitty Gatlin became one of the smoothest and best-loved lead singers in Southern Gospel by the mid-1960s.
He broke into the business in 1956 when promoter Wally Fowler initially chose him to form and manage a new backup group called the Country Boys. Impressed with the young singer’s remarkable voice and his sincerity, Fowler then convinced Smitty and his recruits to form a new version of the recently-disbanded Oak Ridge Quartet. The new group debuted at one of Fowler’s all-night singings in Birmingham, Alabama, on New Year’s Eve, 1956.
By 1958, Smitty Gatlin had purchased the group outright and had set out to turn it into one of the best groups in the gospel music industry. Suffering several lean years in the late-1950s, Gatlin and the Oaks persevered and, by the early years of the 1960s, began to emerge as one of the most popular and dynamic young groups in Southern Gospel. With Smitty’s direction, the Oaks experimented with the “Nashville Sound”, adding new instrumentation to create a fuller sound on their recordings.
A committed Christian, Gatlin’s struggle to serve his Lord ultimately led him to leave the Oaks in 1966 in order to accept a position as minister of music at the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas. A few years later, he formed the Smitty Gatlin Trio and resumed some professional work though he continued to concentrate more on church revivals and his own music ministry.
One of the genuine combinations of outstanding talent and Christian dedication, Smitty Gatlin left the gospel music world prematurely. Gatlin died on March 20, 1972, after a bout with cancer. He was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association in 1999.
Biography courtesy of G Man (#48462202)
Nell E. Gatlin (1937 - ____)*
Tri-Cities Memorial Gardens
Created by: Hank Gillette
Record added: May 18, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 52554997