He's known as the "Mountain Man" of the legendary Oak Ridge Boys. But, underneath that long beard and rugged exterior beats a heart of gold -- and as his friends know, quite the artist. On Monday (Nov. 14), a group of industry professionals and friends gathered in Music City to celebrate the art of William Lee Golden, which is currently on display at Nashville's Hotel Indigo.
In an interview with Billboard.com, Golden stated that while he has always had a deep love of art, he only began to experiment with painting about a decade ago, following a nudge from his wife, Brenda.
"I kept stopping and jumping out of the car taking pictures of landscapes, and I'd get back in the car and say 'That would be a great painting'. One day, I would like to try that," he recalled. "But I never went out and bought the supplies to paint with. [His son] Solomon's first Christmas ten years ago, there was a big box under the tree Christmas morning, and I opened it. There were some canvasses, some easels, paints, brushes, and some books on painting. There were also some of those pictures I had taken in an envelope with a card that said 'Merry Christmas from Brenda and Solomon. Please paint us a painting now."
With that, Golden was on his way. "That was my inspiration that kick started me into it," he says, though he admits that it took him a while. "I started reading about it and started trying to read what I could about it. The first time I tried to apply paint, I felt real awkward. So, I kept trying to read more and figure out what I was doing wrong."
He adds, "I just try to paint from the heart what I feel. I read a lot of books about art while we're traveling down the road. I take all of my supplies on the road while touring with the Oaks 160 days a year. All of these paintings were done in a hotel room."
The bearded one admitted that, while different than music, art allows that same emotional release -- although sometimes he doesn't know how it is going to turn out.
"Sometimes, when you get to painting, every stroke represents a thought," he mused. "When you look at what you're painting, it sometimes takes on a different course than what you originally planned. I don't draw it all out before I do it. I may sketch spots on a canvas and work from that perspective. It opens up another new world of thinking to me."
And, just like a fine wine, his day job continues to roll full steam ahead. The Oak Ridge Boys have just kicked off their annual Christmas tour, which will keep the 'Mighty Oaks' on the road until just before Christmas. That's absolutely fine with Golden, who started with the group back in 1964.
"I feel like we're fortunate and blessed to be able to do what we want to do. This time of year is usually our busiest time of the whole year. We also have a brand new project with Cracker Barrel that we are very excited about," referring to It's Only Natural, which debuted in the Top 20 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The disc contains re-recordings of several of their biggest hits, including 1981's "Elvira."
The Oaks are also becoming a YouTube craze as of late, thanks to their collaboration with lip-synching sensation Keenan Cahill on their current single, "What'cha Gonna Do," which you can see below: