'Behind The Beard': William Lee Golden tells all in new autobiography – Branson Tri-Lakes news

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This year William Lee Golden, member of The Oak Ridge Boys, alongside Scot England released his autobiography.

This year William Lee Golden, member of The Oak Ridge Boys, alongside Scot England released his autobiography.
After nearly five decades with The Oak Ridge Boys, William Lee Golden is opening up about his life in a new autobiography and inviting folks to meet the man “Behind The Beard.”
The recently released autobiography takes readers on a journey from Golden’s childhood and teenage years to how he found his way out of the cotton fields and onto the stage with Grammy Award winning group The Oak Ridge Boys.  
“I grew up on a farm. My daddy was a pig farmer right on the Alabama/Florida state line. His brothers were also pig farmers. I grew up on a peanut and cotton farm, with soybeans and wheat,” Golden said. “I grew up playing music at night, plowing the fields in the daytime and singing to the top of my voice on the tractors. That’s where it started with me. It’s something I still love to do.” 
Though his autobiography is in his own words, Golden said it was written by Scot England, the award winning TV anchor, reporter, radio host, public speaker and now a country music book author. 
“We got to know him through him being a TV personality up there in Illinois. He moved to Nashville and had an offer to go work for RFD-TV here,” Golden said. “He worked with them for a long time and got to writing autobiographies for different country music people. Scot has asked me maybe seven times about wanting to write a book. I said, ‘Well Scot, who in the hell would want to buy a book about me? I’m not sure anybody would want to buy a book that I put out.’  (Scot) said, ‘Well, I think you’ve got a story to tell and I’d like to be the guy to help you tell it.’”
During the early part of the pandemic, England was at the post office mailing out copies of the autobiography he had just completed for RFD-TV and Grand Ole Opry Legend Jimmy Capps when ran into Golden’s son, Chris. While they were standing together, England asked Chris to call Golden on the phone to see if he was ready to share his story yet.
Golden said after he thought about it for a while he decided to invite England to join him and his wife, Simone, at the family farm where he grew up. 
“Scot came down and we sat and talked. He saw exactly where I was born and raised. My sister lives across the street there and he talked to her, because she was my first singing partner when I was 7 years old,” Golden said. “She taught me how to play acoustic guitar and she played mandolin and we’d sing and play these old country and country gospel songs. That’s where it started for me. Then in high school, I sang in the FFA Quartet and that kind of got me enjoying quartet singing. Then I had a group after high school and then met The Oak Ridge Boys.”
Inside the book, Golden, 82, included more than 200 rare, never-before-seen photos from his personal collection. Along with the photos, the book also contains stories and notes from folks other than Golden.
“I told Scot to talk to not only me, but my partners. ‘Anybody I talk about in here, you’re welcome to talk to them and get their side of the story.’ He talked to my first wife, because she was suffering from pancreatic cancer at that time. He talked to Frogene and got her side of the story on some of our situation and my unfaithfulness. She shared the story I probably wouldn’t have gotten into if she hadn’t told it all. But what she did talk about is actually true,” Golden said. “I’ve been married four times now. The first two go arounds I guess most of my problems were my fault. I was unfaithful and trying to love two women, it didn’t work out for me. Other people might have a different take on it, but I know what happened to me and what didn’t work out. All of that is in this book.”
Golden said after England would visit with different people, the author would always come back and then ask him questions about what he had just learned from others. 
“He was real thorough when writing this book. He didn’t leave many leaves unturned…It’s my story and what happened in my life and how I got to where I’m at,” Golden said. “He talked to all four of my sons and got their side of who I am and what I am. I guess I’m too old to worry about being honest, you know what I mean. The truth is the truth and it doesn’t matter what anybody else says. I just know what happened in my life.”
The book also chronicles Golden’s career with The Oak Ridge Boys, as well as the years he wasn’t a member of the band.  
“My journey and being with the Oak Ridge Boys. Then getting voted out of the Oak Ridge Boys in 1987 and then them coming to me and wanting to vote me back into the group in ’95,” Golden said. “I’ve been back with them for over 25 years now and I was with them in the beginning for 22 years when they voted me out. It’s the whole story of me, the Oak Ridge Boys and my life and the different people that’s involved in my life.”
During the process of putting the book together, Golden said he actually learned things he didn’t know about himself and the people in his life.
“My first wife’s experience of what went down when I was unfaithful and she caught me. Her and my girlfriend at the time, they set me up to talk about that…my wife shared that whole story. I actually learned things from her side of the story of what went down that I never did know until now,” Golden said. “It’s not a fluff book or trying to make me look good. It’s a book to show just how one person can make a whole lot of mistakes just by…having a good time and wanting to have fun so to speak. Sometimes you don’t realize our accidents can harm a lot of other people, so it’s things I’ve had to deal with. All that’s in my book.”
Golden added since the book was released earlier this year the feedback has been very positive.
“I hear nothing but rave reviews on the book, because people say it’s good to see someone that doesn’t shy away from being honest about things,” Golden said. “You know, that’s kind of the way I’ve always been. It’s who I am and what I am.”
On top of autobiography, Golden actually dove into several other projects during the pandemic including putting together an album, “Front Porch Singin’,” with The Oak Ridge Boys, as well as recording three albums with his sons. Golden said around a month into the shutdown, he found himself staring at the TV every day until he couldn’t handle watching anymore. 
“What I found was so much hate and negativity and violence coming out of television that I honestly had to get away from. I had to turn the TV off and I just got out of the house. I just felt like sitting outside here under a tree or on the patio. I had to let my mind relax and not be invaded by so much negative and hate that was coming through television,” Golden said. “(Suddenly) all these old songs started flooding my mind and my soul, back to my earliest days as a young kid. Songs of my earliest childhood that I was affected by or either ended up singing with my sister. Songs that touched my life in a different way. I called my sons, Chris and Rusty—they’re incredible singers and musicians and they both have solo careers going on—and I said, ‘Boys, come on over to the house. I need to sing some songs and I want you all to help me do this.’ So we started sitting around the piano and playing and singing old songs.”
After a few days around the piano, Golden booked some studio time with Ben Isaacs, so they could go in and record some of the music they had been playing. Joined in the studio by folks like Aaron McCoon, David Hood, Aaron McKinnon and few others for some of the recordings, Golden and his sons formed the group, William Lee Golden and The Goldens.
“I ended up recording 32 songs with my sons. We cut an old gospel album from my childhood. I took them back to where I came from and songs I sang as a little kid. I went back and visited those old songs that my sister had taught me and my mother had taught me when I was real little,” Golden said. “We’d play and sing these songs on Grandaddy Golden’s radio show. He was a fiddle player and had a radio show. Once a week we’d get to sing these old songs as little kids. From there we’d sing at churches, picnics, high school assemblies, political rallies and different things. It took me back.”
The 32 songs are being split into three albums, a gospel album, a classic country album and a pop/country rock album. In recent weeks, Golden and his family have begun releasing a few of the singles from each of the albums, as well as a music video for each release. 
While folks are getting a taste right now of William Lee Golden and The Goldens music, Golden said they won’t be releasing the full albums until probably late January 2022. The singles that have been released thus far can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes, and the music videos can be found on the ‘William Lee Golden’ YouTube channel. 
Golden and the rest of The Oak Ridge Boys; Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban; will be back in town performing their final Branson shows of 2021 at The Mansion Theatre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 20 and 21, and Nov. 3, 4, 10 and 11. Visit themansiontheatre.com for tickets and additional details. 
Golden’s autobiography, “Behind The Beard” can be found at williamleegoldenbook.com or on amazon.com. 
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