The Southern Gospel world and the Gaither Homecoming Family have lost an icon and dear friend. Ben Speer passed away on April 7 after a courageous battle with Alzheimers. He was 86 years old.
An original member of the renowned Speer Family, Ben Speer was among gospel music’s most treasured living legends. Ben’s father, “Dad” Speer, a singing school teacher and a true perfectionist when it came to proper singing technique, instilled musical excellence and “shaped note” theory into Ben as early as he can remember. He sang with the legendary Speer Family for four decades and participated in more than 75 Speer Family albums until the Speer Family retired in 1998.
In 1950, Ben launched the Ben Speer Music Company, which published such great hits as “WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE,” “I’M STANDING ON THE SOLID ROCK,” “TOURING THAT CITY” and “I’LL WALK THEM GOLDEN STAIRS” which was recorded by Elvis.
As a record producer, he has produced albums by such artists as The Florida Boys, The Speers, Ivan Parker, Anthony Burger, The Weatherfords, and a variety of others, including The Homeland Quartet, of which he was a member.
In 1989, Ben organized the first Ben Speer Stamps-Baxter School of Music, an annual training week for young artists, where he continues to spearhead programs that train new generations of artists in music theory, proper singing technique and other valuable skills that help preserve excellence in gospel music’s rich heritage.
Musical director for countless Homecoming videos and a favorite on the Homecoming stage, this GMA Hall of Fame and Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame inductee blessed the world with his timeless gift.
Bill Gaither had this to say about his dear friend:
“Ben has been a friend and colleague to me since 1962 when he published the first song I wrote, ‘I’ve Been To Calvary.’ Not only did Ben publish the song, but The Speer Family recorded it. Since that time we have worked together on many Homecoming videos. His musicianship and dedication to our music is unparalleled. He is a dear friend whom I will miss greatly.”
Our prayers are with his sister Rosa Nell Speer Powell, his wife Rebekah and the entire Speer family during this difficult time.
We will see you at the house, old friend!
Funeral Arrangements are:
Visitation will be on Monday, April 10th, from 4-7 p.m. at Woodlawn
Funeral Home on Thompson Lane in Nashville, TN.
Visitation prior to service at First Church of the Nazarene located on Woodland & Fifth starting at Tuesday, April 11th, 11 a.m.
Service will begin at 1:00 p.m. with burial at 3:30 p.m. at the Woodlawn Cemetery also on Thompson Lane.