Former Oak Ridge Boys Singer Calvin Newton Dies
An Oak Ridge Boys veteran died earlier this month. Gospel singer (Wesley) Calvin Newton, — the quartet's lead singer for three years in the 1950s — preceded the four current members of the group, but the band was set to pay tribute to him during a funeral in Georgia on Monday (March 13).
Newton is a Korean War veteran, member of the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Tri State Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. His obituary notes his nearly 10 years of performing experience before he was asked to join the Oak Ridge Quartet after being discharged.
"Crying in the Chapel" and "I Believe" were two songs they recorded that Newton was featured on.
In 1957 he'd transition to the Sons of Song, but shortly after a serious car accident in 1958, the group took a short break. He'd continue to lead or take part in reconfigurations of this group for the next several decades, to the point that news coverage of his death recalled him as high tenor for Sons of Song before being an early member of the Oaks.
"He was the sweetest tenor voice you'll ever hear," Joe Bonsall writes on Twitter.
Newton moved to Lookout Mountain, Ga. in 1988, and it's there he died on March 3. Wife Joyce preceded him in death.
"A blessing to see and sing with so many longtime dear friends," the Oak Ridge Boys write on Twitter. "We are singing 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken.'"
Calvin Newton leaves behind a son named Wesley, daughter named Jackie and their respective families, plus extended family. A celebration of life took place on March 13, with the graveside service happening on Tuesday (March 14).
The version of the Oak Ridge Boys fans know today began to take shape when William Lee Golden and Duane Allen joined the quartet in 1965. Richard Sterban and Bonsall would join several years later, and they'd enjoy considerable gospel success before becoming country music hitmakers.