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1973 Inductees

Denver Crumpler

By January 1, 2018May 5th, 2021No Comments

Inducted 1973

DENVER CRUMPLER

(1914 – 1957)

Denver Dale Crumpler was a quartet performer whose career stretched from the late 1930s until his premature death in 1957. He is most renowned as the tenor for The Statesmen Quartet (1953-1957).

Arkansas native Denver Crumpler was one of the highest lyric tenor voices ever known to Southern Gospel music. He began his singing career in the early nineteen-thirties with The Stamps Melody Boys, one of the many music-selling, traveling groups sponsored by the Stamps-Baxter Music Company of Dallas. In 1938 the guitar-playing, Irish tenor began a long stint with The Rangers Quartet, enduring until 1953. By the late 1940s, the Rangers had become the most widely known quartet in the gospel music field, although their concerts and radio shows often featured western tunes as well as gospel numbers.

In the early 1950’s The Statesman Quartet was one of the most popular quartets in America. Pianist Hovie Lister was the group’s managing force and when a rare spot in the tenor slot opened, knowing Denver’s voice would be a perfect complement to the other members, Lister aggressively lobbied Denver to join the group. Once Crumpler was on board their popularity gathered speed to the point of them performing 250-300 concerts a year and having a syndicated television show sponsored by Nabisco, eventually seen on about 150 television stations around the nation.

Crumpler possessed an unusually great voice. He was high and clear, with no hint of a false tone. He sang with great ease, was a stylist and anyone could see he had a sense of class and dignity. “He was a great singer,” Lister said, “and a great man. He had a marvelous personality and was a gentleman of the first rank.” Crumpler was such a key member of  The Statesmen that he joined the other legendary four members; Hovie, Doy Ott, Jake Hess and “Big Chief” Wetherington as a joint owner.

Throughout his glorious days traveling with The Statesmen, Crumpler often struggled with health problems brought on by his diabetes. In March of 1957 the group had just returned back to their home base in Atlanta from a revival in Detroit when Denver’s heath took a dark turn and he passed away from what was initially thought to be a heart attack. Later it was revealed that his death was a result of diabetic shock. Crumpler had taken insulin for thirty-five of his forty-four years. 

Denver Crumpler gave gospel music dignity and was a true professional. His style influenced many of the great Southern Gospel tenors of the next generation. He was part of the inaugural class that was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1997 and the writer of the song Won’t We be Happy.   

Additional note of interest:

Eldridge Fox, a highly respected quartet man in the 1960s era who owned and sang baritone for The Kingsmen Quartet, classified Denver Crumpler as “the greatest tenor who ever lived.”  

See additional GMA Hall of Fame entries for: The Statesmen.

Content written by GMA Hall of Fame staff member Jon Robberson Sr. – source contributions from the Encyclopedia of Gospel Music (1979), SGHistory.com, Close Harmony/James R. Goff Jr. (2002), and excerpts from The Music Men by Bob Terrell (1990). (March 2021).  

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