Gold City is the name of a popular southern gospel quartet from Alabama. During the group's peak in the '80s and '90s, they were anchored by bass singer Tim Riley, who served as the mainstay through a constant turnover of tenors, leads, and baritones. Such ever-present change provided a good foundation for Gold City to survive well into the 21st century, as Riley retired and his son Daniel picked up the reigns to steer the group into the new millennium.
Gold City have their roots in the Christianairs, a gospel group based in Mississippi that featured Jerry Ritchie as a lead singer. In 1980, a Georgia-based businessman called Floyd Beck bought the rights to the group, rechristened them the Gold City Quartet, and moved them to his home state. By the end of the year, the lineup settled into a quartet featuring Ritchie, bass singer Tim Riley, baritone Ken Trussell, and tenor Bob Oliver, with pianist Garry Jones joining shortly afterward. This is the lineup that would appear on First Day in Heaven, the group's 1981 debut produced by Eldridge Fox -- the Kingsmen Quartet chief would perform a similar role for Gold City throughout the '80s -- but by 1982, the membership shifted, establishing a pattern that would run throughout their career. Brian Free joined the group as their tenor in 1982 and the next year saw Ritchie switch to baritone as Ivan Parker took lead. With a few exceptions, this was the lineup that sustained the group through the mid-'80s, after which time Mike LeFevre replaced Ritchie as baritone.
This incarnation was the one that made Gold City into stars, and they had their first major hit single with "I Think I'll Read It Again" in 1984. That year, Beck passed away and Tim Riley assumed management duties for the group, having them relocate to Alabama. In 1986, the group dropped "Quartet" from their name and became known as Gold City. During the mid-'80s, the group established themselves as a considerable concert draw and they recorded often, cutting upwards of five albums a year at their peak. Gold City became known for launching the careers of many singers, including David Hill and Jonathan Wilburn, the latter being the lead from 1996 to 2008. While Wilburn was the lead, Gold City also featured Tim Riley, baritone Mark Trammell, and tenor Jay Parrack, along with a rotating cast of pianists and Riley's son Doug on drums.
Gold City entered a period of transition in 2002, when Trammell left to form his own ministry. Two years later, Parrack departed the group and Tim Riley entered retirement shortly afterward. He turned the reins over to his sons Doug and Danny, but tragedy struck in 2006 when Doug died in an automobile accident. Gold City regrouped, with Tim Riley filling in on occasion when the group lacked a bass singer. Wilburn left the group in 2008 and the next decade found Danny Riley anchoring a shifting group of singers, who performed both on-stage and in the studio. Tim Riley had a stroke in 2014; despite a full recovery, he decided to make his retirement permanent after his illness. Danny Riley continued to lead a lineup that featured lead Scott Brand, tenor Thomas Nalley, bass singer Chris West, and pianist Bryan Elliott. In 2017, Gold City was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine