Southern style: marking 60 years of music, the Gatlin Brothers

tsj column writers - southern styleBy Randall Franks

 

A sound synonymous with country radio when I was coming up was that of three brothers, Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin.

Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers have been dazzling audiences for 60 years and they are bringing that sound to audiences celebrating the milestone. It all began in 1955 when Larry was six, Steve was four, and Rudy was two.

After performing as youths, Larry went to college to study law but he still sought new musical opportunities, even auditioning for Elvis Presley’s backup singers – The Imperials. That door did not open but he found a champion in the talents of country singer Dottie West through that experience who encouraged him to begin writing songs.

Larry went home to Houston, wrote eight songs, sent them to Dottie and she sent him a plane ticket to Nashville. Through Dottie, Larry met Kris Kristofferson, who opened doors for Larry’s first record deal at Monument Records yielding.

Steve and Rudy moved to Nashville in 1975 and teamed up with Larry to form Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers. It wasn’t a year before the hits began rolling in beginning with the chart-topping success of the Grammy winner “Broken Lady.”

The hits continued throughout the rest of the decade, with seven more number one songs: “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “Love Is Just A Game,” “All The Gold in California,” “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer To You)” and “Night Time Magic.”

In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the trio was nominated for awards by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Music City News Awards among others. “We won some of them too,” Larry said.

A new gospel album on Curb Records, “Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers 60th Anniversary Celebration” is currently in the works.  “We’re not calling it a farewell or a final tour. We’re calling it the 60th Anniversary Celebration,” Larry said. “By no means are we retiring but after this tour we are going to slow down a little bit. The promoters are going to have to want us about three times more than they want us right now.”

“We were going to call the album, The Gospel According to Gatlin because some of the new songs are a little edgy, a little bit different. Then we realized it was our 60th anniversary so we went with that as the title” Larry said. “Steve and Rudy and I didn’t get where we are by playing it safe. We have always pushed the envelope, we have always crossed borders others were afraid to cross and we’re not going to stop now… and that is the Gospel According to Gatlin.”

I encourage you to check out their music or see a concert, it will be well worth your time.

“We’re not cutting back because we can’t draw a crowd or that we can’t sing anymore. Today we sound just like we did 40 years ago, pretty dad-burn good,” Larry said. “We’re not being run out of the business.  We’re not going broke. We’re not down to bread and milk money. We just think it’s time to do some other things, slow down a little bit and do it with class and dignity on our own terms.

“There are other priorities in life. I have two granddaughters. Brother Steve has seven grandchildren and Rudy has two kids,” he said. “We still love the fans and the road and we still love to sing but we want to spend more quality time with our families. We are grateful to God for our fabulous run and we can’t wait to see what else He has in store.”

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers I: Finding the Light.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.)

 

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