In 2008, the Statler Brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Five members of the quartet were inducted, a tribute to their status as one of the few groups in recorded music to achieve legendary success both before and after a high-profile lineup change.
The Statler Brothers got their name from a tissue box, though two of them – Harold and Don Reid – were actually brothers. First performing as the Kingsmen, hey started as a church singing group in Staunton, Virginia. Harold initially performed as part of a trio with Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt, and Don joined later on, making them a quartet. They opened a local show for Johnny Cash, who was so impressed that he invited them to join his traveling show and helped them score a contract with Columbia Records.
They started strong, with the huge, Grammy-winning crossover hit, “Flowers on the Wall.” Their association with Cash led to appearances at his legendary prison shows and on his network television show. They had a few more hits for Columbia, including the hit that was their first of many pun-heavy numbers, “You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith, Too.” A move to Mercury brought them even greater commercial success, as they dominated the seventies with major country hits and popular gospel albums. They won their first CMA Vocal Group trophy in 1972, and would go on to win it eight more times, with their ninth victory coming in 1984.
Tragedy struck the group in 1980, when founding member DeWitt was forced to leave the group due to serious health issues that led to his death in 1990. Jimmy Fortune was invited to replace DeWitt, and he became instrumental in the group’s remarkable run of gold-selling albums and chart-topping hits in the eighties. Both as a singer and a songwriter, he helped the band achieve their most consistent run of hits at country radio, with three of their four #1 hits coming after he joined the lineup.
Cable television further increased the popularity of the Statler Brothers, even after radio stopped spinning their tunes after the eighties came to an end. Their widely popular variety show was a cornerstone of the TNN lineup, and their gospel work brought them another gold album during the nineties. The new century brought a wildly successful farewell concert, which marked their retirement from touring. Their induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 served as the perfect companion to their induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame one year earlier, as this vocal group’s impact on both genres has been enormous.
- Flowers on the Wall, 1965
- Bed of Rose’s, 1970
- Do You Remember These, 1972
- The Class of ’57, 1972
- I’ll Go to My Grave Loving You, 1975
- Do You Know You are My Sunshine, 1978
- Elizabeth, 1982
- Flowers on the Wall, 1966
- Bed of Rose’s, 1970
- Holy Bible: Old Testament & New Testament, 1975
- Today, 1983
- Atlanta Blue, 1984
- Pardners in Rhyme, 1985
- Gospel Favorites, 1992
Next: #23. Charley Pride
Previous: #25. Tom T. Hall