Have you ever been in a situation in life that would be best described as surreal? You know the facts but the facts don't line up with your heart.
That's how I've felt all day. I got the message this morning on the way to the hospital that George Younce, the worlds greatest bass singer and who with Glen Payne gave me my start way back in 1979, had passed away. "It can't be true", I thought. George has pulled through so many critical times in his life that I was sure he'd pull through this one. It was not to be. At 3:30 am George stood in the very presence of His Lord Jesus. I can just see the event with my spirit eyes. Here was a man who'd sung about heaven for years and now he can sing about it from a first hand perspective! I like to think that his buddy and partner of so many years, Glen Payne was waiting in line to meet George to tell him where to meet him for the "all eternity" singing.
About 2 months ago I was feeling a little sad one night. It was late and I couldn't sleep. So I fired up my ipod and started listening to some old Cathedral tapes. Many were recording in the 1970's before my time with them. I got very emotional. Not just one emotion, but many. I laughed for a long time. Then (as George would say) my eyes started leaking. Just a trickle at first but as I listened the tears flowed like a river. Glen Payne has been gone since 1999 and my thoughts were obviously on George and the struggles he was having. Suddenly I got the idea to make him a CD of what I was listening too and send it to him. I put about 20 songs of the very best of George and enclosed a note that basically said, "If you every wonder why so many people say that you are the best bass to ever sing, put this cd in and all will be made clear!" The next day on the way to the hospital I had a voice mail of George laughing and thanking me for the cd. He said, "you know, I wasn't half bad was I?" That was followed by his trade mark belly laugh. When I returned the call we talked for a while. I didn't know that it would be the last conversation that I would have with him, But if I had to pick one that would be it.
Words can't say how much Debbie and I love the entire Younce family. I can't imagine the pain and loss they are feeling right now. So again I come before you faithful "rope-holders" and ask you to bombard heaven in their behalf. Pray that God will send His sweet spirit in a special way to comfort George's incredible wife of nearly 50 years, Clara along with Gina, Dana, Lisa, Tara, and George Lane. These will be tough days, but I know the Younce's well enough to know that there will be laughter with the tears. George was a unique individual and one of the truly greats in any form of music. Everyone who knew him knew that just under his massive talent for singing was a massive talent for joy, jokes and laughter. Those are my favorite memories of George. The first time I heard him sing up close was at my first rehearsal at Glen and Van Payne's house in Stow, OH just before my first road trip with the Cathedrals. My jaw dropped when Younce went down to a low Ab and just sat there on it. Perfect tone, pitch, everything! I had a hard time not being a fan just then. I had to act like that was something I saw everyday! When we left that night on our way to Winston-Salem, NC. George started telling stories on the bus. My jaw was still aching from rehearsal and now my sides were hurting from the laughter. He had us rolling in the floor.
So George, my small tribute to you tonight is this. Thanks for being the best. Thanks for showing the young singers a work ethic that we could strive for, and thanks for giving me my career nearly 26 years ago. If it weren't for a George and Glen, there might not have been a Roger Bennett.
Tonight George is truly In His Grip!
To read a full Biography of George go to to the Singing News web-site's news section