In Memory of "Big John Bledsoe"
July 13, 1954 - December 30, 2012
Lead vocalist "Big" John Bledsoe, who hails from Milton, West Virginia, brings to The Journeymen over 40 years of experience in the Southern Gospel Music genre. His ability to effectively deliver a song vocally as well as emcee the groups' concerts makes him a natural favorite on stage with fans everywhere. He gives credit to the late Jim Hamill of the mighty Kingsmen for this ability. Off stage, Johns leadership and management qualities are equally important to the group. His love for Southern Gospel music is evidenced in his tireless work to keep the tradition within the quartet. He has been labeled many times of having a quartet with a big sound. John started singing with The Journeymen at 16 years old and is the only one to have sung with the originals. John came off the road in the early 80's for nearly seven long years, after the tragic death of his daughter. He is a witness to the grace and love of our savior, and how we serve a God of a second chance. John is married to his lovely wife Debbie, and together they have two sons.
Owner, Emcee, and Long Time Lead Singer John E. Bledsoe, Sr. “Big John”, 58 of Milton, WV, passed away Sunday December 30, 2012 in Glendale, WV. Home Going Services were conducted on Thursday January 3, 2013 in Huntington, WV. John was truely a Gospel Great and a pioneer in the Southern Gospel Music Field. Loved by many of his peers he was always a prime example for what Tradition Male Southern Gospel Quartet should be.
Singing was truely not just a hobby for him, it was a lifestyle that he chose at the age of 16 when God crossed his path with Southern Gospel Music. It was 1970, and while walking the city streets of Huntington, WV he came upon a "Big Purple Bus". While talking with The group members they convinced him to lug the heavy equipment up the City Auditorium stairs in exchange for a ticket. You could often here him say, "Little did I know this would be a ticket that changed my life forever." Sitting in his seat for the evening concert the announcer came over the PA and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, from Madisonville, KY, please make welcome THE HAPPY GOODMAN FAMILY." And the rest is history!!!
Through the years he would become friends with folks who loved the industry just as much as he did.
Howard, Vestal, Sam, Rusty (The Goodmans)
Rex Nelon (The Nelons)
Eldridge Fox, Jim Hammil, Anthony Burger, Ray Dean Reese, "Little" Ernie Phillips (The Kingsmen)
George Younce, Glen Payne (The Cathedral Quartet)
Gerald Wolfe (Greater Vision)
Les Beasly, Glen Allrad, Darrell Stewert, Buddy Lyles, Gene McDonald (The Florida Boys)
Harold Gilly (The Florida Boys)
J.D. Sumner (Stamps Quartet)
But through all of his camaraderie with Singers, Being on Grand Stages like National Quartet Convention, Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, Renfro Valley, SGM Fanfair, WhiteHouse, and visiting many churches and fairs across the country his heart was still for the people.
Night after night he enjoyed getting out of the bus, walking into a performance and all that had taken their time to come and hear the group. He told congregations everywhere that even after the passing of his daughter and going into a backslidden condition, he was given a second chance by God. He would encourage folks that no matter what the were going through, God would be right by there side and no matter how many tears they may have cried at night, those people were to "Hang On" because joy would come in the morning.
Big John was not only loved by fans but by people that he gave a start and mentored into the ministry. Some fimiliar names may include.
Little John Bledsoe -The Journeymen / Dixie Melody Boys
John Jeffrey - The Journeymen / Greenes / Bowlings
Aaron McCune - The Journeymen / Anchormen/ Palmetto State Quartet / Blackwoods / Gold City / Union Street Quartet
John Darren Rowsey - The Journeymen / New Journey / Karen Peck & New River / Dove Award Song Writer
Bryan Hatton- Mark209
September 2012 until December was a hard time for The Journeymen and Bledsoe family. Big John was diagnosed with cancer, the group continued on the road as he was forced to stay back in the office away from everything he loved to do. Many nights were spent wondering by the boys what would happen if something would happen to the Big Guy. With questions being asked and doctors keeping a close eye on him John would always keep an optomistic point of view of what was going on in his life. He told people that would call on the phone concerned about him not to worry, God would take care of him, but if he saw it fit that his time was done he was ready.
December came and John went back on the road to fill the rest of the years concerts. He made his return to Christmas in the Smokies in Pigeon Forge, TN and shared what battle he was going through and upon all that told folks still not to worry, God was in control.
December 30th, 2012 will go down as a troubeling day for the Quartet. It was during the Break of a concert when Big John started to seize on the front pew. After being rushed to a nearby hospital he passed away later that afternoon. His legacy, pride, traditionalism, and love for Gospel music went with him to heaven, but he has instilled it in each of our hearts that we might press toward for a higher calling and continue to be MEN on a JOURNEY.
Forever we will hear him say "Boys, Don't lose sight of the Cross of Calvary!"
In our hearts and minds we know he finally got to hear two things that he had been waiting for most of his life.
John, Well Done Thy Good and Faithful Servent
Daddy, I've been waiting for you
WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!