The Most Underrated, Unappreciated Tenor of All Time

Every so often (about every 1-2 months) the debates rage on SG message board sites about “Who is the greatest (fill in the voice part here) of all time.”  Tenors seem to be the most common asked about, since it is the flashiest part (sorry lead and bass singers). A screaming high tenor is one of the hallmarks of SG music. When this makes the rounds, the usual suspects are named. Current guys like Phelps, Free, Parrack, Haase, and then legends like Crumpler, Rozell, Shaw, Wynn, and the ilk. There is one name that is consistently left out, even though he had the rare ability to sing in the stratosphere without the thin, nasally sound, yet could also sing a smooth lower tenor lead just as well. He was a stand in for a legendary female performer when he broke on the SG scene, then in later years really defined the sound of the Statesmen Quartet. If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m speaking of the late Johnny Cook. Cook had a unique timbre to his voice, and he could sing through the roof with power and quality (“Looking for a City”, anyone?), yet in his later years with the Statesmen he really defined the sound of the group, and his performances of “Sinners Plea” and “Every Eye Shall See” on the first CD of the reformed Statesmen are impeccable.

However, I’m not really posting this to prove that Cook is the greatest of all time, that is strictly a matter of opinion. However, I do wonder why he is not regarded as one of the best tenors ever. He had the voice, the range, and the ability to truly sell a song with strong, emotive vocals. So why is Johnny Cook so forgotten? Is he a legend? I don’t think so, as he didn’t have the longevity in the forefront of SG like the true legends (Shaw, Rozell, etc.) , but he definitely was one of the top tenors in terms of vocal quality. Why isn’t he more highly regarded?

About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

141 Responses to The Most Underrated, Unappreciated Tenor of All Time

  1. pastoralmusings says:

    That is a very appropriate question.
    There is no doubt that Cook was an excellent tenor.

    • Rose Pappas says:

      The Lord just decided that He wanted that voice in His heavenly choir, and gave Johnny his promotion early. Now that Happy and Vestal have joined him, can’t you just hear Heaven shake with the glorious sound? I just love the video of his competition with Vestal where the other guys help him reach the high notes by unbuttoning his jacket and loosening his tie. Priceless!

    • Gail Lilley says:

      I believe Johnny Cook was the best tenor that ever sang southern gospel (my opinion). You can purchase the cd his son(Kevin) had made of Johnny best songs called “Full Circle” and also “A Christmas with Johnny Cook” at Just type in the cd name and then Johnny Cook. Full Circle is a wonderful cd and I love the Christmas one also. Christmas is coming up soon and you will enjoy the cd.

      • JasonS says:

        I’ll have to check that out.

      • Elowese Adkisson says:

        And many, many others feel the same. Johnny Cook was the greatest tenor ever. If you listen to all the “Looking for A City” tenor duals that you can find on You Tube you will hear the difference immediately. Johnny and Vestel are absolutely perfect. Were this a common thing before Johnny and Vestel did it? Never heard any other bunch do it as well and on the ones I found on YouTube the other groups sound like amatuers! Try it for yourself. Pull up a few of the videos and listen for yourself. Some to try are: Looking for a City Duel between Vestal Goodman and Johnny Cook Looking for a City Duel between tenor from Kings Gold II and the Statesmen Looking for a City Duel between tenors

  2. He’s a superb tenor, no question. I think the main reasons he isn’t as well appreciated today as he should be is that (a) he didn’t stay for long enough with one group and (b) too little of his catalog of recordings is available (new).

  3. Ed Butler says:

    His career was too short compared to so many others. He was a joy to listen to – but there are many “great tenors” who do not last a decade.


    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      I have never heard a tenor who even came close to Johnny Cook.

      • Lori Gordon says:

        Johnny Cook mezmerized me with his voice, taken too soon!

      • Theresia says:

        I so agree with you Joan!!! He was and will always be the best!!!

      • Elowese Adkisson says:

        There are several of us mounting an effort to flood the SGMA with nominations for Johnny Cook to the Hall of fame. You have to join the SGMA ($20) and then you are eligable to submit a nomination. Let’s make 2014 Johnny’s year.

      • Robin Alexander says:

        I’m on board! Check out his fan page on Facebook!

  4. Paul Jackson says:

    Burkes’ brain works again.

    PJ / The Prophets

    • Rev. TM Felts says:

      By far the best tenor of yester years …… I agree often over looked !

      • Elowese Adkisson says:

        There are several of us mounting an effort to flood the SGMA with nominations for Johnny Cook to the Hall of fame. You have to join the SGMA ($20) and then you are eligable to submit a nomination. Let’s make 2014 Johnny’s year.

  5. Quaid says:

    Everyone should take a good listen to “Child Of The King”, on the Goodmas DVD “Live In Texas”. This is a stellar example of pure,great tenor singing.

  6. Jason says:

    Nothing beats Johnny Cook’s “Looking for a City,” especially the competitions with Vestal Goodman to see which one could sing the highest, which Johnny always won.

  7. zelda says:

    I have researched but unable to anything about the cause of Johnny Cook’s death. I would like to know the cause of death.

    • Diane says:

      Hi Zelda,

      In the event you didn’t ever find anything about the cause of Johnny’s death, he died from liver and kidney failure, associated with cancer, I believe. He died on May 14, 2000 in Huntsville, Alabama. He is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Milan, Gibson County, Tennessee.


      • Anthony Bishop says:

        Thanks for this information, Diane. I was Johnny’s roommate at UTM back in the 1960’s. (I think it was 1969. He never told me he could sing. I forgot about him until I read in the Baptist Reflector that he had been ordained as a minister. Later on I read he died. If you have any information on him, I would appreciate it. Thanks.

      • Robin Alexander says:

        What would you like to know? I’m the administrator of Johnny’s fan page.

  8. coomercove says:

    Wes, I somehow stumbled across this post today, and it reminded me of something. A few years ago, my dad was insulted by a former full-time SGM bass singer (and legend in his own mind) by saying he sounded too much like Johnny Cook.

    • Elowese Adkisson says:

      Oh my goodness. If your Dad sounded anything like Johnny Cook get that man in a studio and record all of Johnny’s best as a tribute album. I’d buy it for sure.

  9. burkesbrainwork says:

    I’d have said, “Thank you!” LOL

    Zelda, Johnny Cook passed away due to kidney failure.

  10. There is no doubt that Johnny was THE BEST Tenor from the time he started in 1970. He could hold a note longer than any other singer, and never lost the pitch. HE is singing with Angels in Heaven today. A high E flat was fun for him, then make it higher He was simply the best….. Any wonder why no one wants to tell of his VOICE, He was the best

    • Marshall Martin says:

      Wow! I never knew Johnny Cook sang with such groups as the Statesmen or Florida Boys but I listened to him many times, with my dad, on his album “The Voice” and many Happy Goodmans albums when he was young and later when Tanya Goodman Sykes & Michael English joined the group. I say without a doubt he is the best tenor I’ve ever heard sing & most definitely underrated! Phelps, Talley, Funderburke, & Franklin and every other tenor take a second seat! They are great; he was & is the best!

    • Mary Crupper says:

      Amen to your comment.

  11. dave E says:

    Not only was a fantastic tenor with unbelievable range, He sang with charisma!

    I looked up his biography, but its not very detailed. Is there a complete biography?

    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      There will be a complete biography of Johnny’s life on the website of Johnny Cook in the near future.

      • Aaron Easton says:

        Dear Joan Hopson– friend of Johnny Cook,

        My Lord, I am now listening to a Johnny Cook album and everything good siad about this blessed saint of God is true! The Spirit of the Lord is upon that voice and how it still blesses and moves me to worship!

        I am always searching for music that we may [by permission] use on our own CD’s as a front or end to teaching series that we mail free to our former parishoners. If you know how I might receive that permission I would appreciate a reply.

        Aaron Easton
        Cross Cov. Min.
        Cuba, MO

  12. There is so much that could be told of this great man and his Voice. He was only twenty when he came on the gospel music scene. And he had a great impact on the music.
    I don’t wonder what caused Johnny to die. Death is Natural, caused from natural illness. What really hurts me is that Johnny is Gone. We can’t wait and get his next album. All we have of him is all there will ever be.
    I watch or listen to CD’s of him and my heart aches. He was the best. And there will never be another Johnny Cook.
    I hurt because I know he would have still been out there singing, but God called him Home.
    Johnny we know we will see you again one day.
    Berni- Bernising You tube
    Bless the Cook Family

  13. David says:

    Could someone please tell me what happened to Johnny Cook? Was he married? Did he have any kids? How did he die? I can’t seem to find any of this information anywhere on the web.

    • Daryl says:

      Johnny was married and had children. I don’t know all the details, but I was priviledged to read a post a few years ago which was written by one of his children. It explained the cause of his death as well, but let’s just say “kidney failure”. Like everyone else on this earth, Johnny Cook had his struggles, but I don’t believe he ever quit fighting for what was right, and I’ll always believe he overcame every struggle to live in the heaven he sang about with such excitement.

  14. Pingback: YouTube Clip #3 « Burke’s Brainwork

  15. Stephen says:

    Yes, I do agree with others on here that Mr. Cook def was one of the great tenors or the best in SG. How many (men) could stand in for the Queen of Gospel Music, Vestal Goodman? Just the videos of him ‘competing’ with Vestal on “Looking For A City” was so impressive to me!

    Also wanted to mention the huge contribution, that The Happy Goodman’s had towards SG music. Remember seeing them many times as a younger person with my folks and they sure could perform and seemed to love what they did. Rusty was a great songwriter and singer on his own and I will always have great memories of this family!

  16. JOAN HOPSON says:

    JOHNNY COOK was without a doubt the greatest tenor the Gospel world has ever been privileged to hear. As of this date, I have not heard another tenor who can replace him.

    So many people loved Johnny’s voice and Johnny himself if you ever met him. I was privileged to do so back in the
    1980’s when he was travelling solo. I had previously heard him in the 1970’s when he came to our town 2 different times with the Happy Goodman Family.

    I lost track of Johnny Cook and inquired numerous times of his whereabouts. About a year ago I decided to once again enter his name in an online search – and there it was – The Johnny Cook Guest Book – it is available now and you will love reading the hundreds of messages posted there. I obviously was not the only person still trying to find Johnny.

    Yes, Johnny was married and had three sons. His son Kevin is compiling a CD of Johnny, hopefully to be released in the near future. You will learn more about this on the website referenced above.

    Johnny sang with the Happy Goodman Family and the Statesmen Quartet and traveled solo for a number of years.
    There are many records, cassettes and CD’s published that include Johnny and many solo albums featuring his beautiful tenor voice. I have many of them but am still searching for a few I do not have. References to many of these recordings are listed on the website mentioned above.

    It has been stated that Johnny did not stay with any one group very long. Perhaps I can explain the reason for that –
    Johnny received his call to preach the gospel, was ordained and Pastored a church in Alabama. He was called home at an early age in the year 2000, dying of kidney failure. Thank God we have his music to inspire us even today and I can hardly wait to enter the Gates and hear that beautiful voice echoing through the Halls of Heaven.

    It is sad, but true, that Johnny Cook has not received the recognition he deserved. He was an humble young man and would not expect any glory on this earth but I believe he should be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame.

    We should not be sad that he is gone but rather we should be thankful we had the privilege to know him and hear
    The Voice.

    • Ms. Barr says:

      Johnny Cook, was the “Elvis” of SGM tenors! He was the all time greatest male tenor, who had an amazing gift of talent! He surpasses Shaw, Rozell, Wynn, etc. As far as Haase??? doesn’t come close to being a true great. I was raised around SGM and have heard them all….Phelps is second to Cook, both wonderful Christian men who enriched SGM. It was a gift to witness them singing and praising our Heavenly Father with true sincerity. I miss the greats who have gone before who never seem to loose their shining stars.

      • Ma’am, I don’t want to become involved in an argument with you, but it seems to me that you could say something enthusiastic about Johnny Cook without going out of your way to down somebody like Haase. Just sayin’…

    • I could not find a Johnny Cook Guestbook (at least not for this Johnny Cook). Do you by any chance have the exact website address, or a link to it? I also agree that he should be inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. I also can’t wait to hear his voice again, singing in Heaven’s choir! 🙂

      • Bernice Sheppard Ensminger.....Bernising says:

        Liz there used to be a guestbook. But I think it was taken off, People would get on there and argue about Johnny and it was not fans of his. but critics.,, If I am right his son closed it… It was a shame that people have no respect and needed that to air their jealousy and what ever else drove them, It was a nice book for many years.. God Bless and hope you can find some of Johnny’s music. It was on e-bay and may still be there,,,Bernising

      • Bernice Ensminger says:

        thank You for all the time and years you have devoted to Burke’s  Brainwork,, I was on you tube for several years and till I was hacked and taken over by people that used my channel to post thing I did not approve of. I had a great following of fans on there and requests.. Now I just listen to SGM, but I always fely like U had let a lot of my subscribers down,,, Keep up the good work.. Bernising– Bernice Sheppard Ensminger ber

      • Kevin Cook says:

        Dad’s music is available on iTunes and for download. Full Circle is on there and now the never released Christmas is on there. There is also a lady on Facebook who keeps a Johnny Cook Fan Page going.

        I appreciate everyone’s support and I know dad would have as well. He loved his fans and I remember MANY a concert, where he’d spend time visiting & talking to folks.

      • Robin Alexander says:

        Kevin took down the guest book & the website. I started a Johnny Cook fan page & we all share information about Johnny & his music on there. That is probably the only active thing out there still focused on Johnny. His music is starting to make a comeback on radio & a coue of Johnny’s cd’s have been put on ITunes. The info is on fan page.

      • Elowese Adkisson says:

        Liz, There are several of us mounting an effort to flood the SGMA with nominations for Johnny Cook to the Hall of fame. You have to join the SGMA ($20) and then you are eligable to submit a nomination. You can do this online. Let’s make 2014 Johnny’s year.

  17. stevencsmith says:

    In the early 1980’s, soon after I was born again (to my utter astonishment! and in spite of everything I could do to avoid it!), I began attending a small charismatic church where both the Pastor and his wife loved to sing, with such a marvelous and joyous abandon that even I joined in. One day a guest singer came in, named Johnny Cook. As he took the mike he warned the little congregation, with a twinkle in his eye, “I sing high, and I sing loud, and I love the Lord Jesus, so get ready.” Well…bless my soul! I’m glad he warned us! I still vividly recall experiencing “Long Winding Road”, “Through the Blood”, “Singing to a New Song”, and “The Lord’s Prayer”, among others. Such volume! Such purity of voice! Such a presence of the Holy Spirit! I hardly remember what he looked like, because my eyes were full of tears of joy most of the time he was singing. I bought a “Life Stream” cassette tape, and for many mornings afterward I woke to Johnny singing. I recently found that tape again, and tho it squeaks and stops in places, I still love to listen. A couple of weeks ago, when I surfed to see how to get his music on cd or something, I learned that Johnny has been called home, and now that his son Kevin is producing a set of his music. Lord, I pray that you bless that effort! Amen!

  18. Thanks to Steven,
    You just gave me another album or Cd to look for in my search for Johnny’s music.
    I grew up listening to gospel music and in a family that sang Gospel music all over the south west. However, with all the talent I have met through my many years in that field, I have yet to hear anyone that could sing like Johnny Cook. Not only could he sing the words, he could melt your heart with that voice and the tone. So much emotion and spirit in songs he sing. He touched so many people’s heartsand souls. He used music the way a minister preaches from the pulpit to touch the heart. Come visit ” You Tube ” and “The Johnny Cook Tribute ” Site. Read the letters and heart rending stories of people whose lives were changed after hearing Johnny sing. Johnny had a gift, he had class, and he was filled with love for singing of God. In other words he was annointed to sing. We lost him much too soon, but God saw a need to call him home. But his music is still calling out to the masses to come to God today. His life is still a testimony. Thanks and God bless all of you on here. Berni-sing, You Tube. Berni

  19. Lisa says:

    I love his music. I too was trying to research information on Johnny Cook. I had heard it was liver failure but it must have been wrong.

  20. Annie S. says:

    Like some of you …I was trying to find out some updated info on the ”GREAT JOHNNY COOK” . I think he was the greatest tenor of all time.THE BEST ” I have never heard anyone with a magnificient voice such as his. I saw him many years ago when he was performing with the Happy Goodman Family. The first time I saw him was when Sister Vestal was sick and he was taking her place in the group. ”What A Beautiful Day” a song on their newest album had just been released. When they sang that . I was a Johnny fan for life. I saw him perform several times after that..when Sister Vestal was back with the group and they sang ”Looking For A City” oh my ! I will never forget that night.
    I didn’t know what happend to him until I found this site. I am still so sad to know he is no longer here with us . He is now singing for our Blessed Lord. God Bless he precious soul and his family.
    I found a cd just the other day at a thrift shop. Titled ”Johnny Cook He Is The Real Thing”. It has a song on there that I dearly love …I’ve been listening to it all day ”No Never Alone” and ”On Silver Wings”. The cd didn’t have the insert that tells who wrote the songs and I cant find any info on this cd. I have several of his albums and the one where he is performomg with the Goodman’s. This was the first cd I have ever seen of his. I am so happy to know his son is working on producing a set of his music. Cant wait to buy this one.
    I heard that Johnny went into Ministry and was not singing anymore. I am still so shocked to know he is gone.
    I cant believe the other groups never mention his name when they are talking about all the great ones that are no longer with us. In my opinion ”Johnny Cook” is the greatest tenor and deserves the best recognition of anyone ever.
    Rest In Peace ”The VOICE” precious Johnny Cook” you are missed by your fans.

    • I am so grateful to Kevin for putting together some of Johnny Cooks music. I bought Full Circle, and a couple of old LPs on Ebay. I listen to him night and day. I fell so cheated that he was so looked over and I never knew about him until recently on You Tube. His music has sure touched me. Imagine how many people could have been touched by his beautiful voice and sincerity in a song if they would have given him the credit he deserved

  21. Annie, S.
    To answer some of your questions about Johnny. Johnny passed on May 14th of 2000. He died from Kidney failure in the hospital in Huntsville ,Alabama, His family by his side. He was buried in Tenn. near his home.
    Johnny did go into the ministry. He pastored a Baptist church in Courtland ,Ala. for sometime. Then went back into music as a solo traveling with his own group, in his own bus. His family traveled with him to different concerts at times.
    He was in poor health in the late ’90,s.
    He sang with The Statesmen in the early and mid ’90,s untill Hovie Lister became ill with cancer and the group quit singing .Bill Gaither help get the Statesman together one last time, then Hovie became ill.–thanks Bill.
    On the album you mention, Johnny did the arrangement on the song.” No Never Alone” I think it is the best arrangement of that old song I have ever heard. Just another of his talents. You know he played the piano and guitar and another instrument or two. God surely blessed Johnny with talent .and a voice that can’t matched anywhere.
    There are several places on You Tube that you can hear Johnny’s songs…on Channels—- LLgas, Moondoggy22, bernising, Donsportal, Hoover,
    If I have forgotten anyone I am sorry, but those users have Johnny’s music and all they can find.
    We all support his music and ” LLgas “and myself “bernising” feature him.
    Johnny sang with the Florida Boys for a time. The Voices Triumphant, The Johnny Cook Trio, The Melody Masters , The Goodmans family, The Song Masters, The Statesman. Then for a while Johnny, Rusty, Sam and Tanya, Goodman sing together as a group. There was another group or two, but you will have to look on my playlist to see who they are, because I can’t remember all of them.
    Vestel kept in touch with Johnny and they were friends until both had gone on home to Heaven.
    Johnny is revered by many many people and all loved him and still do. . Many ask for his music and still are being brought to the lord by his songs. There is a Guest book.” Johnny Cooks Guest Book,” put on the web by his son.
    God bless you and I hope some of your questions are answered. and you can find more about Johnny on the PC., Bernising

  22. Linda Martin says:

    Do you or anyone else know what has happened to “A Tribute to Johnny Cook” site by Kevin Cook? I have had it bookmarked for a long time but everytime in the past few weeks I have tried to go to it, an error message comes up. I did a search tonight to see if I could find it and found this site. I know you wrote in to the other site alot so thought maybe you know what is going on. I enjoy reading what people say about Johnny’s singing and check it often(I grew up with Johnny). I thought maybe Kevin is working on it causing the site to be down. Any idea?

    Glad I found this site in my search. Everyone here seems to appreciate Johnny’s talent and loves to hear good Southern Gospel singing.

    • The site was closed by the family. There may be one page still on here as a memorial. Just know there has never been anyone else with a voice like Johnny’s. Johnny has children that live in the south . and one is a very dear friend. See Johnny on my You tube “Bernising’…I have a playlist of him with all his songs that I could find.. Most of them were from his son , a dear friend.
      Sorry I have been so long getting back on here– hope you see this. berni

  23. Annie S. says:

    Thank you so much for all the information. I looked through a lot of my old albums and have already found 4 that Johnny is on with The Goodman’s and he is featured on almost all of the songs on two of them. There may be more. I also have one of Johnny’s that he autographed for me at one of their concerts.
    We have a ”Lifeway” store in my town that has much Gospel music. I am going one day to see if they have any of Johnny’s music and if they don’t, I will ask if they can get it.
    I am still so sad about his passing . All week I have been playing his music. His precious voice and words of ”No Never Alone ” has put such joy into my heart. I have two sister’s that dearly love his music as much as I do …well almost.
    Thank you again and God Bless.
    Love and miss you ”The Great Johnny Cook”.


  24. STEVE says:

    I was watching some old goodmans videos on youtube and saw johnny singing with vestal , and truly he is one of or the greatest tenors I have ever heard. he is so smooth and pure and just had a God given talent I was saddened to hear that he had passed away,God Bless the Cook family.

  25. Annie S. says:

    Good Morning All.

    My sister has a dvd of The Goodman’s ” LIVE IN TEXAS”. Sam introduces Johnny as being the newest member of the group.
    He looks like a teenager. He sings ”Looking For A City” with the great Sister Vestal…of course he wins .
    She let me bring the dvd home with me to watch this week .
    I have enjoyed it so much . They also sing one of my favorites
    ”Want It Be Wonderful There”. I’m not sure of the date of the concert …probably in the 70’s.
    Many years ago …in the 70’s in Nashville TN. They had the ”Baptist Southern Gospel Music Singing Convention” each year in Sept. It was two weeks …as I recall … of the greatest singing around with all the best groups performing each night. ”Johnny Cook ” The Happy Goodman’s” The Hinson’s”, The Florida Boy’s, The Stamp’s, The Oak Ridge Boy’s The Rambo’s, The Inspirations …just to name a few.
    Me, my Sister, and some friends always went as many nights as possible. I will never forget this wonderful time in my life.
    There is nothing better to Bless your soul than to hear this great southern Gospel music. It was a time that was so relaxed . You would meet many of them walking through the halls . They would stop and talk with you …such a special time.
    We all have stacks of albums that we bought each night at the concert.
    We also saw ” The Happy Goodman’s and Johnny perform at Church’s around our town on Sunday afternoons. What a great time this was.
    The Great Johnny Cook had the most unique voice…so clear was each word he sang…with such purity as no one else I have heard to this day.
    There will never be anyone ever again with a voice such as his. mo
    Blessing’s to all his family . Annie

  26. Frank J. says:

    I am somewhat confused about Johnny’s death. I offer this explanation simply as a possible reason for his constant omission from that list of the greatest ever. I spoke with someone VERY close to him a couple of years before HER death and understood her to say that Johnny, in his last years, had turned his back on SGM, Christianity and the industry,and inisted that no SGM be played at his funeral. I also was given a very disparaging reason for his liver failure. I was told a reason for his inability to last very long with a group was an ego problem. Has no one else ever heard this? If true, that is possibly why industry “gurus” don’t include him. But I have, since hearing this side of the story, prayed that it was not true. For as a SGM singer, minister of music, and Johnny Cook fan, I can’t bring myself to believe it. Truly, his was a gift from God, and he is probably rehearsing that song written by the Father himself, that angels cannot sing. No doubt, Johnny is THE lead tenor in heavens choir! I look forward to singing with him one day!

    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      Was just reading your comments about Johnny Cook, especially where you were told that Johnny had turned his back on SGM and wanted none of it at his funeral. Please let me assure you that this was absolutely NOT THE TRUTH.
      The fact is, Johnny’s funeral was filled with southern gospel music and he NEVER turned his back on it. It is amazing the rumors that are spread about people. People should just be silent about things they don’t know. Many people have tried to destroy Johnny’s reputation and I cannot understand why. Johnny suffered a great deal of illness towards the end of his life and died at an early age. Also
      there was absolutely no EGO PROBLEM with Johnny – he was an extremely humble person. I know you were only commenting about what you had heard but I did want to set this straight so you would know the true story.

      • GLS says:

        The SGM may not recognize him – but he’s being recognized in heaven and I’ve never met him, but from his singing I’d say he didn’t turn his back on God.

  27. JOAN HOPSON says:

    For those of you looking for some of Johnny’s music –
    check on EBay frequently, under both Johnny Cook and also The Statesmen Quartet (there have been several CD’s on EBay recently – entitled “O My Lord, What A Time”. Johnny is featured in every song and you will love this recording.

    You can find the DVD “Live In Arlington, Texas, 1974” by clicking on the Happy Goodman website.

    Frank, I am not sure what happened to Johnny towards the end of his life or exactly what caused his death. I am a friend to his son Kevin and have never asked questions about this because the family wishes to have privacy in this matter and I respect their wishes. I do not for one moment believe that Johnny was egotistical. He was, in fact, a very sincere and humble person. I do know he had a great love for his Savior and I truly believe he is in Heaven today, singing with the Angels.

  28. Hello All.,
    Johnny was a fine person, Joan and Lora and myself know Kevin, Johnny’s son. We think a lot of that young man and Johnny too, also the rest of the family.
    Johnny was proud of his voice and talent, but I don’t believe he was egotistical about it. In Fact he was humble and very annointed.And no one could have been a better trooper with the groups he traveled with.He had a great sense of humor.

    The DVD of “Alive in Texas” was made in 1974 in Arlington ,Texas. Johnny by that time was married and had a child or two with Kaylin. John was born in 1949 and started singing early. Vestal first heard him when he was nineteen, and she said he was the best Tenor she had heard in 25 years.

    I don’t think Johnny had trouble with any group, it was like with the Statesmen ,someone got sick, or the groups formed other groups as did Johnny, Rusty, Sam and Tanya Goodman when Vestal and Howard slowed down.

    Johnny ‘s father Paul Cook passed on in 1970 right when Johnny was getting into Big time Gospel. They were a private and close family, by nature.

    Somethings you may have heard are possibly just gossip. I would tell you to just listen to all of the music and Thank God we had Johnny. Listen to the voice with all the annointing and feeling and thats what God would want you to do. Thank God he let us have Johnny for thirty years. Johnny was 51 when he passed on. May he rest in Peace in Heaven and sing forever up there. God Bless all of you, Berni-bernising

  29. Here is some info for those of you who worry that the industry does not recognize Johnny Cook.
    Please go to The Gaithers site with the article of all the greats that have gone on. I think Johnny is on page 7. or 13. If that post has been deleted i will send you a copy , get in touch with me in a comment on here. Berni -Bernising

    Here is a link for you to the Gaithers site. Johnny is on that. It has been there since eraly spring , So go read it soon or they may replace it with another article. Re: Johnny Cook,,,, Berni–Bernising You Tube

  31. Annie S. says:

    Good Morning Everyone,

    Bernice, thank you for the info . I just read it and it made my heart feel good to read those wonderful word’s about Johnny.
    I listen to his beautiful voice everyday . He will never be forgotton here on earth . God Bless his family and God Bless all of you.

    Joan or Bernice , do you have any info about the music compilation of Johnny’s music that his son Kevin is working on?

    I pray all have a Blessed Day .

  32. Hi all, > First The Tribute site is back on. There was a problem with it. It was down for a time, but you can go back I think on your same book mark

    Also , don’t forget to go to the guest page’s and read all of the letters about Johnny.–over 500. You can click on it from the Tribute site up in the right corner. I think some should be censored, but it isn’t my site and God is our only judge.

    Johnny’s ministry speaks for his dedication to God.
    Johnny was a great man and a wonderful singer.He was still singing with the Statesmen when Hovie got sick from Cancer and had to stop. That was in the mid 90’s.

    I haven’t talked to Kevin , but Joan may have. But I think the Christmas album may be the one that comes out first. I know Kevin is a very busy guy –all the time.
    Joan’s place was hit by the Hurricane, no damage to the house , but a lot of old oak trees were taken out. and half of Houston landed in her yard.–so she has been busy. I haven’t had a great time in the last few months with my health. But I listen to Johnny and promote him all I can. Lora works on videos practically around the clock.And trieds to help those needing answers about his music. Bless both of those ladies. We all love Johnny’s music and Wish we could do more.
    Come see me and Lora on You tube. At— Bernising and– llgas, We have Johnny. Most of them Lora made. Look at my playlist for Johnny. .
    I don’t comeon hee to talk about us, I come on to help you all know more about John and help you find places to get his music. Any questions?? I will be back next week, Love you all,May God Bless all of you– Berni- Bernising

  33. God Bless all of you, Please write a letter to “The Tribute To Johnny Cook” site. ” Tenor of Tenors. Still singing in Glory.”
    The letters are in the guestbook, and you can click on the guestbook in the upper right hand corner of the Tribute page. Also, look at the photos of Johnny and the many people he sang with in the photos.

    You will be inspired by the many people that write in and tell that they have just given their life to God , because they have listened to records friends have played for them..Johnny would be blessed to know that–but then I guess he does know it as he watches from heaven.

    Would Rhonda or Dreama that sang with Johnny contact me please. –Bernising, You Tube

  34. Hi Everyone. God bless you all. Just found out that Eddie Crook ,the great pianist and song writer has gone to work with The Prophets Quartet. I would like to see them in concert.

    You know as I heard it, Eddie and Rusty found Johnny Cook in Tenn, ne night at a concert and they liked that voice–Who didn’t like Johnny’s voice????

    You might watch for them . I liked watching Eddie’s hands on the piano. He got more music out of that piano. Someone commented on that on You Tube.

    I will try to see if Kevin will give me some news on the Cd’s, if I can catch him In his office or home. But won’t promise he will tell me. He wants it to surprize everyone.. Maybe Joan can get it out of him. Well what ever if it is Johnny,It will be good.

    Another thing. I was listening to Johnny’s songs last night, and if you have listened to the Goodman’s long enough then even on Johnny’s solos, you can hear Eddie at the piano. I mean when Johnny was making his own records. Great sound. Eddie has his own style and sound.
    Well they are going to charge me rent on here, But I love helping all of you that come on here for help. The guys all have their own site I think. Alli have is Bernising at You tube. , God Bless the Prophets, Come to Okla or North Texas, Berni

  35. JOAN HOPSON says:

    I note that several of you have asked when the new CD of Johnny will be released. I don’t think any of us have an answer to that, not even Kevin who is compiling this in memory and in honor of his Dad whom we loved very dearly.

    Kevin is very busy in his job and is doing this project on the side. I know he has every intention of finishing this so do not give up hope. I am sure it will be released just as soon as everything has been completed to his satisfaction.
    He wants to make it the very best it can be. We will all enjoy it whenever it is released.

    Let’s all just pray for Kevin, that God will supply the extra time and strength he needs to complete the project.

    God’s Blessings To All,

    Joan Hopson

  36. Kim Schild says:

    I just stumbled across your website because I was eagerly searching for some information about this phenominal tenor that I just heard-Johnny Cook

    I was on youtube and came across him singing “Looking for a city” with Vestal Goodman and about fell out of my chair he was so unbelievable.

    I had never heard of him and just had to find out the who what where and when’s of him and that is how I found this article on “one of the BEST tenors”

    Funny isn’t it- that a young woman who didn’t even really care for the song “Looking for a city” came across it and heard a voice so clear and powerful that she can’t get it out of my mind.

    Goodness-His voice was phenominal and I hope I can get him singing that song out of my mind so that I can sleep tonight

    Anyhoo-the bottom line is- You must be right about his talent or what happened tonight could not have happened!!

    • Will Gremm says:

      Exactly my sentiments too. I am a fan of Brian free and had only seen the older Johnny Cook on the Gaither series when he had lost his high range. I started reading comments about Johnny Cook fans posted on Brian Free’s video’s on youtube so I became interested and found the “Looking for a city” video as well.
      Johnny Cook could SOAR. Enough said.

      • Hi Will. You may not see this since your post is from May of 2010, but even if you don’t, there are others here who may enjoy it. I noticed you said that you had only seen Johnny on Gaither when he had lost his higher range… Here is a link to a video where he is on Gaither, with Bill Gaither narrating. Johnny is doing the high tenor descant on this song, & has not lost his high range, or his breath control. I hope you see this, & I hope you enjoy. God bless. 🙂

        [Descant: the word means a voice (cantus) above or removed from others. A form of music in which one singer sings a fixed melody, and any soprano or tenor, would sing the higher pitched line in a song.]

  37. Kim,. I am glad all of you have found Johnny on the You Tube and the Tribute site.
    Kevin is working and trying to get all of the legalese worked out on recording Johnny’s music. It takes time, and we know all has to be right to get the CD’s out and legal.
    Someone asked if Johnny was married. Yes he was married to Kaylin, and they had three sons, One which is Kevin of the Tribute site. Kevin remembers traveling on Johnny’s bus ,when he was a little child ,to his dad’s concerts. What a wonderful memory.
    I am sorry but today I can’t think of Kaylin’s maiden name. I think Mayo or Jackson. Sorry. Many people remember her and knew her.
    We were so blessed to have Johnny for the time we did, And he blessed us with a legacy of music. I am still trying to find a lot of his work. Joan, Rita , Lora and Kevin have sent me a lot. I love them for doing it Kevin is a good friend and like a son. God Bless you all. It has been a while since I have been on here. Sorry but haven’t deserted you all. Come see us on You tube, Bernising— berni

  38. Kim , that is why Johnny’s music is needed today. So many people have come to the Lord through his singing, many since he passed on in May of 2000. He is still being sought out by all who hear him for the first time on You tube. Then we have to tell them he is already in Heaven. But honey what happened to you is happening all over, so many have never heard of him. That is why Kevin is working to get his dad’s music out. God bless you and tell your family and friends about Johnny Cook, the late Great Tenor. Bless you ,Berni —- bernising You tube

  39. Hi everyone,
    Back again. We are getting many letters on the Tribute site wanting to petition or contact the Music ssociations for Johnny to be induted to one of the Halls of Fame.
    I think this would be the greatest honor he could get.
    Just keep looking on these sites and maybe write your own letter to the Tribute site aabout Johnny indeucted in the Hall of Fame
    Not anything new i caould tell you. We are just promoting Johnny on You Tube, “Bernising ,” ” Don’s portal” . ” llgass” and others. . Have a great easter. Berni–bernising

  40. I need to edit my own letters. That is terrible. And i write for the news. LOL

  41. Georgia S says:

    I, too, was not aware that Johnny Cook passed away. Although I didn’t know him personally, I’ve been a fan for as long as he was singing and I don’t think that his ego got in his way. Most of the times that I’ve seen no recognition of a person is because of jealously. I am glad that I was able to hear his singing and one day be able to meet him.

  42. Judi Cooley says:

    Only this describes him ” HE WAS AND IS THE GREATEST ” but there are always nuts that try to tear wonderful people down. He is the bestto this day !

  43. Bernising says:

    Thank Judi , you said it all. He was the greatest. We miss him. And we play his music everyday, or I do. I play it as I work on the PC and around the house. He fills my heart to overflowing on some of his songs. Others just carry me away in the spirit.
    I get the greatest blessing featuring him on You Tube at Bernising. I get comments from people on there, some I get to minister to. So many have come to God through Johnny’s music since he passed on and that was nine years ago. What a blessing To stand in Heaven abd know you are still calling out to sinners on this earth through the records one made. I think Johnny knows that. Today he is singing in heaven while angels stand with their wings folded for they can not sing the song of the redeemed, but Johnny can. They must be in awe of this wonderful man. Jesus loved him for he gave Johnny many talents > I often sigh and think , Johnny we miss you , but soon we will be with you in Heaven.
    All of you have asked about things you have heard. I will only say this because in every company or industry, there is a certain amount of jealousy, and in music also. Some do have more talent than others and get more recognition, Well this is ok, because they have more talent. This is ok, because they work harder to gain their status. This was Johnny. God just blessed him from the first time he opened his mouth to sing with annointing and talent.
    Therefore I would suggest that you listen to his music and not inuendos from at large, because it hurts others and we don’t need that. Lift Johnny’s sites up in prayer and know we were fortunate to have him then and his music now. Pray for Kevin, he has a load to carry with his work and he is getting Those CD’s out as quickly as he can. and that is days work–everyday, in itself and many days.
    I know there will be a big ad in Music News when he gets everything ready. Kevin told me that. So watch that maginzine . You can find it at Gospel & Bible book stores and some big book stores, like Barnes and Noble or Hastings. god Bless all of you, Stay faithful and God will bless you. Berni—bernising You

  44. David says:

    I am an Episcopalian….of the high church variety….that has never in my 54 years ever listened to Southern Gospel music…and then I saw the youtube video of Johnny Cook singing “Looking for a City” with Vestal Goodman. I was completely knocked off my seat!….all I can say is WOW!!!!

  45. Alane Lassiter says:

    I have just found your website. Thanks you so much for your efforts to call attention to “The Voice.” I very much agree with your comments. I try to keep in touch with Kevin, without being a pest, as he is so busy. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the project he is working on. Do you still have the article that was on the Gaither’s website? I cannot find it today and would love to add it to my collection. Thanks, again for your work. Hope you keep it up!
    A. Lassiter

  46. Alane. I still have it in print, but I don’t have it on here to scan. If i knew your mail Box I could send you a paper copy of it. It is a little long and I don’t have the time to put it back on here to scan. If I find a copy on the web I will copy it to this site and you can copy it. I may still have one in my bookmarks.
    A lot is going on now around Johnny’s life. His mother has been ill and in the hospital. I hope the new CD’s and Johnny’s story has not upset her , she is elderly and I know she still misses her son. Pray that she will be ok.
    I will look for a link for you or cut cnd copy it to this site, It may be a few days, thanks for qwriting , I don’t get on here much. I just came by today to check the mail. IF i have it I will put it up here. I also don’t have you E-mail address to mail it to you. Thank and God Bless, Bernising

    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      Bernie, I have not yet had a chance to speak with Betty Cook as she became ill and was admitted to the hospital numerous times. The biography and CD have not been the reason for he illnesses. She is living with an aunt at this time. I am working on the biography but am hoping to meet Betty and Kevin later this year as I travel through Tennessee then I will be able to complete it. In the meantime, I have sold my home and am moving into an apartment so I have a lot to do. I would welcome your input into the biography – contact me at

  47. Mike Rutherford says:

    I would like to know more about Johnny Cook. He was such a blessing to the world and his voice must have pleased the ear of God.


    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      Mike, a biography of Johnny’s life will be released in the near future and will be featured on the Johnny Cook website.

  48. Hugh Patton says:

    I believe Johnny Cook is now teaching the angels how to sing. He is the only one I know who has the qualifications to do so.

  49. Debbie says:

    I’m looking for accompaniment tapes or sheet music for two songs that Johnny sang: “While I’m Here” and “A Good Year for Jesus.” Is there such a thing? If so, where can I buy them?
    Like others, I am grateful to have seen & heard Johnny Cook. I was in my teens (I think) when my parents took me to a Happy Goodman concert. And of course, Johnny was part of them then. Listening to him sing, always brings tears of joy for my Lord. We were truly blessed to have him here on earth, now Heaven has him. One day we shall meet in on the Streets of Gold.

  50. Kirk Anthony says:

    Wow…after all these years, people are still asking about this amazing singer. I’m a born and raised Alabama boy from good ‘ol Florence. And every now and then, I pull up “Looking for a City” on YouTube just to get my day started off on the right foot. Thanks Johnny boy.

  51. Roger Lunsford says:

    I agree with the sentiments concerning the late great Tenor of Tenor’s the impeccable Johnny Cook! I have
    heard many tenors from various groups for many years
    and I still don’t get the ‘chill’ up my spine from anyone
    else than I do when I listen to the pure emotion that
    transcends from the vocal ability of Johnny Cook! Listen
    to him sing “Silver Wings” and you can’t get enough of
    that song! He is singing I believe with the Angel’s band
    up in Heaven praising his Lord and Master that he loved
    so much and sang about during his time on this Earth.
    Johnny Cook is and will always be the best of the BEST !

  52. JOAN HOPSON says:

    Roger, another Johnny Cook song that will “send a chill up your spine” is on You Tube, entitled “From The Cross I Will Find My Way Home”. Johnny Cook’s voice blesses me as none other can.

  53. JOAN HOPSON says:

    To all you Johnny Cook fans: The CD is near production and the biography of Johnny will be posted on the Johnny Cook website very soon. His son Kevin is renewing the music of Johnny Cook so people who have never heard him will be blessed by his music.

    • Linda Martin says:

      Oh, thank you so much, Joan. I just checked the website and saw nothing new added. Then I just happened to come here—and there was the answer. Will look forward to the CD and biography. Thanks again for keeping Johnny’s fans informed.

  54. Linda Buster says:

    I am trying to find any solo album done by Johnny Cook. I heard him sing with the Goodmans in the early 70’s in Waco, Texas. He did the most beartiful rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” I have ever heard. Could anyone tell me how to find any solo work by Johnny. I have him on the Goodmans album and also the Statesmen. I want something with just him. I, too, believe he was the greatest tenor I have ever heard!

  55. JOAN HOPSON says:


    The only solo CD I know of is “Johnny Cook – The Real Thing”. It can often be found on E-bay and also Amazon. If I see it anywhere else, I will let you know.
    There are quite a few LP’s but don’t know if you can find those or not. E-mail me at and I will be glad to give you some titles of the LP’s.
    I had an old stereo and ordered a new needle for it so I could play the LP’s.

  56. JOAN HOPSON says:

    AN ADDITIONAL NOTE: Just looked on E-Bay and found 2 CD’s by Johnny Cook.
    The first is “The Real Thing” and the other is “Spirit”. I did not know the Spirit album was on a CD. I have it on an LP and it includes The Lord’s Prayer and
    Long and Winding Road (outstanding by Johnny). I just ordered one of the CD’s of Spirit. They are very reasonable.

  57. Terrey Cornell says:

    From since the time I was small I have known Johnny Cook to be the greatest tenor as well as one of the best SG singers of alltime. For many years I hoped he would tour again. Sadly, I’ve had to make due with old albums and cassete tapes. However, the beauty of his voice, the clear strength and heavenly tone of his gift will continue to lift me up even if it does come from a decades old album.

    • JOAN HOPSON says:

      Terry, you don’t have to ?”make do” with the old recordings any longer – check out A Tribute To Johnny Cook and y ou can order his new CD “Full Circle”.

  58. JOAN HOPSON says:

    TO ALL JOHNNY COOK FANS: The new CD “Full Circle”, a compilation of songs by Johnny Cook by his son Kevin, is now available and can be purchased through the website “A Tribute To Johnny Cook”.

  59. Rob says:

    Such a powerful tribute to a wonderful and gifted singer like Johnny…I can only hope that one day people will remember me so fondly as a pianist…..I’ve played since I was 5.

    Johnny, I would love to play for you….maybe that will happen soon


  60. Joyce says:

    Good question – I just sort of discovered him – I was in a mood where my spirits desperately needed lifting – so I turned to gospel music (grew up on it) –
    He is an amazing tenor! and that is an understatement.

  61. Junie Smart says:

    I just loved Johnny Cook and I am in agreement with you that he was the most underrated, unappreciated tenor ever! I think he should always be mentioned. I just loved the way he could sing and his smile! God surely broke the mold when He made Johnny! I don’t think ANYONE could carry a note like Johnny. We need not forget the little guys! He was one of my favorites! I think everyone who has contributed to this field is important! But I do agree that Johnny Cook should be mentioned…… He has at least in my opinion “Earned that Right”. A True Southern Gospel Fan! Junie Smart

  62. Diane says:

    As a longtime fan of Southern Gospel Music, I’ve been to many “All-Nite Singings” beginning when I was 14 years old. I’m now 64. I met Johnny Cook in 1974 when he was on tour with the Happy Goodman Family. The old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt”? In this case, familiarity bred recognition. I saw Johnny at many All-Nite Singings and we recognized each other from past meetings and conversations. We had chances to visit many times. I, too, am a product of West Tennessee, which was an often topic of conversation with us. I cannot imagine anyone ever having a disparaging remark to make about Johnny Cook. He was the most sincere, humble, God loving individual I have ever met. He loved his family and the Lord above all else. There was never a question of ego with Johnny. He felt he was truly blessed to be where he was and didn’t feel that he was all that talented, more blessed. It saddens me to see postings about his “ego getting in the way”. Johnny didn’t have an ego. He was a loving, caring, humble, God loving human being who loved Jesus and his family above all else!

  63. JOAN HOPSON says:

    Johnny Cook’s death has been an area of concern for many. He suffered a number of physical problems in the last few years of his life. His death was due to kidney failure – his body simply gave out after many years of stress. He did not have cancer.

  64. Kevin Cook says:

    First, to the writer, thank you for this article. I’ve seen it for a while and just never wanted to post anything. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my dad was one of the greatest tenors to ever live and yes, he continues to be overlooked. Dad wasn’t perfect and I know that, but a lot of the mess that I hear makes me sick. And as a product of the gospel music industry, I can tell you first hand that none of the others are either. But unlike others, it’s not my place to judge or past blame. Dad’s gift speaks for itself. I grew up loving music and having the opportunity of traveling with dad a lot. The reason I released more of dad’s music was simple. My son and daughters wanted to hear their “Pepaw”. It broke my heart that all of dad’s music was out of print so I began searching for his masters. Fortunately, I was able to secure enough to release the new CD and my purpose was fulfilled. My kids would be able to enjoy hearing their Pepaw whenever they wanted. I have been overwhelmed with how many others have responded to this. I have met many new friends, many of which I keep in contact with regularly. It was a great experience to work with Bruce and James on the project, both of whom traveled with dad for years in his band. It is true, dad had a lot of health problems. Many of which were simply due to so many years on the road. Some he brought on himself and that’s true to. But he didn’t have some disease or any of the rest of the garbage being spread. And yes, dad did indeed have an ego. I haven’t met a performer yet who didn’t to some degree. But he knew the gift he was given, he worked hard and he was very driven to be the best he could be. He was human and people forget that. But as I like to say, it’s absolutely incredible what God did with my dad, in spite of my dad. God can use anyone willing. Dad touched the hearts of an aweful lot of people, many more than I ever will. I’m very Blessed that he was my dad and my memories are priceless. I love my dad, I miss him terribly and I’m very proud that Johnny Cook was my father! I look forward to seeing him one day and there is no doubt in my mind, he’s still singing in glory even today!

    Some details that have been asked. Dad was born in Bradford, TN. His father died when I was only a year old from Hodgkin’s disease. My grandmother, dad’s mom is still alive today but lives in an assisted living facility. I have two other brothers, both younger than me. I hope this helps and again, thank you for the article and kind words. I know I appreciated it when I read this and I know dad would as well.

    May God Continue to Bless,

    Kevin Cook

  65. Pingback: 2010 in review « Burke's Brainwork

  66. JV says:

    Johnny Cook was without a doubt, one of the greatest singers to ever choose the Gospel Music genre. You only have to listen to his recordings to realize that his range and timbre were what set him apart.

    What isn’t he more recognized? He was a true professional that saw the end-result as being of the highest value. He didn’t pat himself on the back or promote himself like many of the current singers do.

    I can only imagine what Heaven’s choir sounds like with his addition.

    • Lora Gass says:

      I agree with everything JV said, except that in my opinion Johnny is the BEST tenor of all time. Johnny now has the only reward that counts, HEAVEN

  67. Myra Simons says:

    I loved, LOVED, Johnny Cook’s voice! What a voice! He could sing and people were just mesmerized! I had the wonderful opportunity to sing with Johnny a couple of times at a church in Memphis, TN, that he attended for a short time – Kirby Woods Baptist. It was an honor to sing with him – it made such wonderful memories for me and I cherish having had the opportunity. We sang Ten Thousand Joys – a beautiful song with Johnny singing one verse, me the second and the choir backing us up on the choruses. It was thrilling to sing with him. May God rest his soul as he sings in heaven. I’m so sad to learn from these postings that he had passed away in 2000. Such a loss for the Gospel music.

  68. Daryl says:

    I will never forget the night in 1974, in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I first seen Johnny Cook in concert with the Happy Goodman’s. I could not believe what I witnessed that night. Not only his amazing tenor voice, but I seen the heart of a man, who just like the rest of us, struggle with everything life throws our way. During the intermission, someone made a request to hear Johnny sing a new song that had just been released, “One day at a Time”. The Happy Goodmans had heard and even sang the song, but Johnny had never heard it before. Also in concert that evening were “The Singing Ledbetters”, who just happen to be selling sheet music, and HAD the sheet music for that song. They handed it off to Johnny, and with the help of the Goodmans, they began to sing. Johnny caught on to the song really quick, and began dancing all over that stage. He sang, he wept, he worshipped God, and when it was over, he was laying in the floor weeping. After he regained his composure, he testified about that song and how those words ministered to him. It was exactly what he had been needing to hear. He didn’t go into detail and I don’t blame him, he simply testified to going through a battle and desperately needed to hear from God. That night, Johnny Cook hear from God!
    He sang that song several times that night, just soaking in the words. He also endeared me to himself, for I not only seen a singer on that stage, I seen a real person, who knew what it was like to struggle, to hurt, to be tempted, to have physical ailments, he was just like you and I. And he wasn’t ashamed to admit it either. While I have no personal details of his life, that’s alright, I don’t need to have, but I firmly believe this was a man who had truly, TRULY met the Master, and today I believe he is in heaven with our Lord.
    I was only 15 at the time, and struggling with temptations. I was excited to meet the infamous Vestal Goodman, and did, but she didn’t even BEGIN to leave the impression on me that Johnny Cook left on me. I left there that evening knowing that I was not the only one who was fighting, and needing to hear from God! I definitely think he was one of, if THE best tenor of all time.

    • Thank you for the wonderful things you have to say Johnny.. I always thought he was annointed when he sang… You felt it too.. We all have our illnesses and our problems in life. Temptation is always there when you out in the public iike he was.. but Johnny was a good person and God had his hand on Johnny. I appreciate It when people like you and others stand up for Johnny. God had a work for him and who knows how long it was to be.. We don’t !But Johnny may have had an idea how long… And he worked and struggled as some in his own profession made it hard for him. Some that were jealous of his voice.. But Johnny stayed True to his calling… And he walked the Jericho Road… and Daryl ,Johnny was a real person…..

  69. Barb Smith says:

    Listening to Johnny sing “On the Other Side of My Valley” while I’m typing this comment. I’m sorry to say I had never heard of him while he was alive. I started listening to Southern Gospel Music about 16 years ago, most often Gaither Gospel Music and just in the last few months heard Johnny sing “O What A Savior” on YouTube. I haven’t heard a voice in my life time give me “Glory Bumps,” (to quote George Younce) like this man’s voice does; its phenomonal! It was difficult at first to find out who he was then when I finally did, I also learned that he had passed. I’m sure he’s singing his heart out in Heaven these days but I sure would liked to have been able to see him sing in person. I truly believe he’s the best tenor I’ve ever heard in my life time. (I’ve been around awhile; 63 years) God truly blessed him with a beautiful voice!

  70. Jim K. says:

    What an amazing singer. I’m a musician from outside the SGM scene and I just stumbled upon “Looking For a City.” What an uplifting performance! I’ve never been so impressed with a voice. You SGM fans are sure blessed with a lot of quality singers.

  71. phyllis hopkins says:

    Johnny cook was and will always be the best tenor of all time

  72. Andy Good says:

    I may be forgotten, but I would call him underrated. He is after all one of only 10 tenors to ever win the Singing News Fan Award for Tenor Singer of the year twice. In fact, he is one of only 14 tenors to ever win it period!

  73. Andy Good says:

    I meant “He may be forgotten, but I would NOT call him underrated.”

  74. Diana says:

    Like many here, I stumbled on Johnny Cook’s inspired voice by accident, and was just thunderstruck. What a sublime gift and what a privilege to hear it. After listening to everything of Johnny’s that I could find- for hours- I just wish there were more I could do to show my respect and gratitude. I would love to buy the remastered cd but the site is down. Anyway he’s singing with the angels now with that clear, pure supernatural voice that is still changing lives here in this world, too.


  75. I was doing more research & just now stumbled on this page. I have enjoyed reading about Johnny. I too, believe he is the best singer ever & don’t want him to be forgotten. I have made a fan page for him on Facebook. I share videos, cd info, pictures & whatever his fans have to share. Come on over & “like” us. I also have some music on YouTube at robinbyrd1963.

  76. Bessie Bearden says:

    Johnny Cook ,had such a range .It seemed there wasn’t a note to high ,he couldn’t reach .When I heard him singing Looking for.A City. with Vestal Goodman .I called it the battle of voices.They sounded so simular.It was a great loss to SG music when he passed .I would put him right up there with the greatest tenor voices name your pick ‘

  77. merawynbda says:

    He didn’t go unappreciated by ME! I was totally infatuated by him when I was a teenager. I got to see him perform once and I was over the moon! Of course, he was probably in his 40’s at the time but I was just in LOVE with his voice! All these years later and I had even forgotten his name, but recently the words to “Silver Wings” (which was my fave of all his songs) kept coming to my mind. I couldn’t remember all the words, but I remembered him and how much I loved hearing him sing. Today on fb a friend of mine posted a picture of a drawing that she did, some information coming to her and she said it was about the healing of the Earth, and she said “silver wings”. so I immediately thought of my favorite song and on a whim thought I would see if I could find it on youtube. As soon as I saw his name I knew it was the right song. I’ve been sitting in bed all morning, now, listening to all his songs and just crying my eyes out. He was the best tenor that ever lived. I’m so grateful that I grew up with his voice and his music. I’m so grateful that my favorite aunt moved heaven and earth to take me to see him live. I’ll never forget that night. I wore my best dress and sat on the front row and made eyes at him all night! He was my dream man. What a powerful, beautiful voice. It’s so good to hear it again after all these years!

  78. RICHARD RYAN says:

    Richard Ryan March6, 2013 I became a Johnny Cook fan three months ago by stumbling on to Johnny vs. Vestal and was immediately taken. I am trying to find and buy everything I can. So far only three CDs are available from gospelmusicwarehouse. I am urging Johnny’s relatives and friends to do a detailed biography starting with his childhood, schooling, career and death.

  79. I am in total agreement… Johnny Cook was one of the most amazing tenors ever! I don’t know why he is not regarded as such or ever mentioned when the subject of such comes up. I loved the “duel” between him & Vestal Goodman on Looking For a City. He was just absolutely phenomenal! Perhaps the reason he isn’t remembered as well as he should be, is that there is becoming fewer & fewer of us around that remember the old time greats.

    • Bernice Sheppard Ensminger.....Bernising says:

      I agree that so much time has passed and so many do not know of Johnny and his talent.. I think he was the best and still holds that honor even though he is no longer with us…. Johnny’s voice was clear and beautifully high.. There was once a lady on here that would compare the scale of Johnny’s singing on certain high notes to other tenors on the same song.. So interesting.. Wish I could remember her name . To many of that era he will always be the best…

  80. RICHARD RYAN says:

    Richard Ryan. june 20, 2013. I have learned that other members of Johnny Cook’s family had kydney disease probably explaining Johnny’ kydney problems. Also, did the biography ever go to print? Johnny was so unique……..great voice……great range and still unique…… can always recognize his voice. He was the best ever on the Lord’s Prayer. He also did several songs that should be standards today and covered by many current artists. “Every Eye Shall See, “Only the Sound of his Trumpet” etc.

    • Jim says:

      God forgive me but I would have loved to hear him sing the secular song “Unchained Melody.”

      • Bernice Sheppard Ensminger.....Bernising says:

        There still isn’t a BIO for Johnny that I know of… I have been very ill and haven’t been able to do anything about it.. Perhaps soon… Berni

  81. Doris Nettles says:

    A voice like Johnny’s. Why should he not have an ego? God gave him the very best. How many do you hear testify that they have sung on the road for years and never knew the Lord as Savior. That they found God after retiring. Sure it would be embarrassing if the truth were known , but it is better not known. It would change nothing. Negative things does no one any glory. God bless you Johnny. You are the way the truth for many accepting Christ as their Savior.

  82. Joy says:

    I recall hearing the Statesmen and other groups that Johnny sang with. I have to admit I had no idea who he was (or Vestal Goodman for that matter!) I only knew that I loved the tenor I heard in the songs. I started doing some searching and found so many songs by Johnny Cook.
    Mr. Cook was the best tenor I’ve heard. While he sounds similar to Vestal in some songs he has unique phrasing in his songs not to mention his vocal range. He stirs my heart when he sings. I realize now that so many songs that I heard and loved were Johnny Cook.
    I regret that I did not get to see him nor Vestal Goodman perform live before they passed on.

  83. Kevin Cook says:

    Thank you all for such nice comments about dad. I just wanted you all to know, he’d really appreciate it. Also, visit the Facebook page Ms. Robin runs, she’s done a great job. There’s a lot of music & pics on that site and it’s continued to grow. I really appreciate her doing that.

    If you’re wanting Full Circle or the Christmas Album, you can download them at or they are available on iTunes.

    Kevin Cook

    • Robin Alexander says:

      Aww. Thanks Kevin.

    • Frances Alford says:

      My name is Frances Alford and I’m 64 yrs young. I only recently learned of your Dad and his tremendous voice. He is one of a kind and I’ve been very blessed by him. I fell like I need to do something to support his induction into GHF and SGHF. Please ignore any negative comments about your Dad, some people are just ignorant. God blessed Johnny Cook and Now He sings for him.

  84. Robin Alexander says:

    If anyone has google + they can look up Johnny Cook Fan Gathering as well as the Facebook Fan Page.

    • Chelsea says:

      I have Google+, and I joined the Johnny Cook Fan Gathering. I am a big fan of Johnny, and I wanted to thank first of all Kevin for allowing these pages, and another thank you to Robin Alexander for setting them up! 😀 God bless!

  85. Robin Alexander says:

    Still love Johnny. Hope over to his fan page on Facebook.

  86. Marlene Beasley says:

    I loved Johnny Cook for Johnny Cook. I knew him as a person,the most wonderful singer and loyal friend. I met Johnny in the early 70’s when we both were going thru some pretty bad stuff,we became quick friends and remained so until his death. I am an R.N. and worked for an ENTdoctor who spec. in singers. Johnny would drive from Ky. and later tenn. or North Al. to B’ham to keep those priceless cords healthy.To say I loved Him is an understatement. and do to this day. My heart hurts for the things said about him. No,he was no angel and yes he had a performers ego but he didn’t deserve those things said of him out of envy.A voice like Johnny Cook had comes along once in a lifetime and Johnny was blessed with it.I miss my friend with a palpable hurt to this day and will until God takes me home. He deserves all good things people say about him and I am so proud of Kevin keeping his Dads legacy alive. It will always live in me.

  87. Robin says:

    This article is ten years old & Johnny is still loved & missed. His eldest son died almost a year ago. Johnny’s mother is waiting to cross over soon. Pray for Johnny’s family as the anniversary of Kevin’s death & his mom’s homegoing draws closer. Thank you!

  88. JOAN HOPSON says:

    I found out tonight that Johnny’s son, Kevin Cook, died last year from a heart attack. We would speak occasionally on the phone but had not in a couple of years. I had planned to call him this week. Johnny and Kevin are in heaven together.

  89. Joan Aaron says:

    No doubt in my mind that Johnny Cook should be nominated for an all time award. He was the most ignored singer that was loved by his fans but seemed to be more or less overlooked for recognition. WHY? Best ever with his ability and range and sang with real. Feeling for major groups. Very sad and it must be so for his family. It is for me as a very old SGM lover! ! 🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻

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