Book Review: Behind The Beard, The Autobiography of William Lee Golden

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I could try to describe what this book meant to me but I really don’t think I could put it into words. I’ve loved The Oak Ridge Boys for as long as I can remember.

It was me who was the kid in elementary school bringing ORB records to school on the days that we were allowed, and made everyone in my class listen. And I was the teenager who almost knocked her aunt over with the car door because I was so excited to get to their concert in Dollywood. I didn’t realize that she wasn’t all the way out of the car yet. It was also me as a teenager who waited outside their hotel room in Johnson City to see them get off the bus. Then ran like a crazy person to get to Joe. I did get a kiss on the cheek. 😘 But I still remember his “deer in the headlight” look when he first saw me. Sorry Joe.

Later, I was the mom who raised her kids right by playing their music more than any other musician (Jimmy Buffett and Bob Seger came in second and third, respectively). When I have grandkids you can bet that they will help me sing along, too. I’ve gone through 8-tracks, records, cassettes, cds, Ipods, satellite radio, and now I have a lot on Spotify. It just NEVER gets old.

I’m glad that I got to take my mom to see them at the Paramount Theater in Bristol in January of 2020. It was just before the world shut down due to COVID and before our world got thrown for a loop when my Daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer. He’s holding his own right now but it was rough for a while.

But back to this amazing book. I was excited to see that it was being written and I got on the waiting list for it. As soon as it was available I placed my order and watched the mailbox. It wasn’t long until the autographed copy was in my hands.

I appreciate the honesty with which he wrote it. And I love all the pictures that he shared of himself, his family & friends, and of course the other “boys”. Spoilers aren’t good so I’ll try to be brief.

I learned about William Lee’s early life, his family, and his start in music. Who knew just how instrumental (no pun intended) he was in the success of the Oak Ridge Boys? behind the scenes. He worked tirelessly, especially in the early days. The chapter that was the hardest for me was, of course, the one titled “You’re fired”. I actually came to a stopping point when I reached this chapter because I knew it would be emotional and I wanted to be mentally prepared for it. It may sound silly but I remember when The Oaks parted with William Lee back in the day and, like other fans, it hit me pretty hard. But he handled this chapter, like the rest of the book, with honesty and kindness.

So if you want to find out more you need to get the book. As a looooong time fan I highly recommend it! Let me know what you think when you read it.

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