Carl Trantham aka Carl Trent, Golden Voice Legend.

Carl Trantham aka Carl Trent, Golden Voice Legend. 

Carl Trantham is a true musical legend.  His story predates Golden Voice and his legacy continues today amongst hard-core collectors of genuine county, bluegrass and rockabilly records.  

carl today

Carl got his start Highland, MO at the age of six playing guitar and singing with his family.  He would relocate to Peoria, IL in 1951 where he would support his musical endeavors with a job as a welder at Caterpillar Tractor Co.  By 1957 he had formed a rockabilly group which would record and release two records: Carl Trantham and The Rythm All Stars -Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way) / After I Go Away – Lincoln Records 643 (1957) and Carl Trantham With The Rhythm All Stars – Deedle Deedle Dum / Our True Love – Starday 361 (1958).    Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way) was recorded at the WMBD studios in Peoria.  It was self-produced via Starday records’ private pressing facilities.  When asked by the pressing plant for a name for his new record label, Carl chose Lincoln.


Carl’s songwriting and performing continued through the 1960’s.  Carl, along with his brother Lee, penned songs for several artists who would cut records at Golden Voice during that time. These included both sides of Eddie Green’s record on Thunder and the Country Music Group from Lake Of The Ozarks MO. Country Music Hall’s record, among others.  

Carl recorded a 45 at Golden Voice which was released on the Golden Voice label: Carl Trent – Jingle Bell Trucker / Don’t Say That You Can’t Love Me – GV 7 -08Carl Trent Jingle Bell Trucker

Carl’s biggest break would come using the name Carl Trent in 1970 with a upbeat country song cut in an eight hour session at Golden Voice: Caterpillar Man.  Carl Trent – Caterpillar Man / Seasons of Despair – Nugget 1054.

caterpillar manGuitar duties on Caterpillar Man were handled by another Golden Voice alum and musical legend Steve Gibson.  Other players on the recording are Joe Frakes on drums (Joe played on many Golden Voice sessions) and Kenny Elam on bass.

The recording was released by Fred Carter Jr’s Nugget Records and became a regional hit.  The A side was played heavily on country radio stations, especially in the Peoria area, but saw action as far away as the influential Nashville country station WENO.  The single’s success earned him a five year contract with Nugget.

His next release was another single for Nugget records: Carl Trent – Service Station Man / Woman I Need Your Love – Nugget 1059.   Around this time, he had a working band consisting of his family members called The Highlanders (named after their hometown in Missouri).  The group featured his brother Lee, nephew Ricky, brother-in-law Jim Smith and another brother-in-law Larry McIntyre.  He also made regular appearances on the Peoria NBC affiliate WEEK-TV’s Country Express show, sometimes performing alongside his wife Virginia. A true songwriter, Carl wrote has written many songs that were recorded by all kinds of musicians, sometimes receiving national attention and airplay.   He continues to perform, write and record to this day. 

*Note: some of the biographical facts about Carl in this article come from a 1970 article written by Jean Budd for the Peoria Journal Star.

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