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The Statler Brothers

Background information
Origin Staunton, Virginia, USA
Genres Southern Gospel, Country, vocal harmony
Years active 1955–2002
Labels Columbia
Music Box
Associated acts Johnny Cash
Former members
Lew DeWitt
Don Reid
Harold Reid
Phil Balsley
Jimmy Fortune

The Statler Brothers are an American country music group founded in 1955 in Staunton, Virginia.

Originally, performing gospel music at local churches, the group billed themselves as "The Four Stars" and later as "The Kingsmen".[1] In 1963, when the song "Louie, Louie" by the garage rock band also called The Kingsmen became famous, the group elected to bill themselves as The Statler Brothers. Despite the newest name, just two of its four members are brothers, and none of them are named "Statler". The band, in fact, named themselves after a brand of facial tissue (they have joked that they could have turned out to be the Kleenex Brothers[2]). Don Reid sings lead and is the younger brother of Harold Reid, who sings bass. The other members are baritone Phil Balsley and tenor Jimmy Fortune, who replaced original Statler Lew DeWitt in the early 1980s due to the latter's ill health.[3] DeWitt died on August 15, 1990 of heart and kidney disease, complications of Crohn's disease.[4]

The band's style is closely linked to its gospel roots. Harold Reid said of the group's style "We took gospel harmonies and put them over in country music".[1]

The group remained closely tied to their roots in gospel music, with a majority of their records containing at least one gospel song. They produced several albums containing only gospel music, and recorded a tribute song to the Blackwood Brothers, who influenced their music.[1]



The Statler Brothers started their career at a performance at Lynhurst Methodist Church near their hometown of Staunton, Virginia.[1] In 1964, they started an eight-year run with Johnny Cash as his warm-up act.[2] This period of their career was memorialized in the song "We Got Paid by Cash."

Two of their best-known songs are "Flowers on the Wall", their first big hit, and the socially conscious "Bed of Rose's." In the 1980s, the Statlers were a mainstay on TNN, where their videos were shown regularly. Between 1991 and 1998, they hosted The Statler Brothers Show, a weekly variety show on the cable television channel The Nashville Network. The Statler Brothers Show was the No. 1-rated program on TNN for its entire run,[5] including the single-most highest rated episode in the history of the network up to that point.[6]

Their songs have been featured on several feature film sound tracks. These range from Smokey and the Bandit II which featured "Charlotte's Web" to "Flowers on the Wall" in the thriller Pulp Fiction.

Throughout their career, much of their appeal was related to their considerable ability for comedy and parody that they frequently interspersed into their musical act; they were frequently nominated for awards for their comedy as well as their singing. They recorded two comedy albums as "Lester Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys", and one-half of one side of the album Country Music Then and Now was also devoted to satirizing small-town radio stations' Saturday morning shows.

They earned the number one spot on the Billboard chart four times for "Do You Know You Are My Sunshine?" in 1978, "Elizabeth" in 1982, "My Only Love" in 1984, and "Too Much on My Heart" in 1985.[7]

Since forming, the Statler Brothers have released over 40 albums.[8]

The Statler Brothers purchased and renovated their former elementary school in Staunton, Virginia, and occupied the complex for several years. The complex consisted of offices for the group, a small museum and auditorium, as well as an adjacent building which served as office space for unrelated businesses. A large garage was built to store the two large tour buses that the group had used to tour for many years. The group has since sold the building and it has now been converted back into a school.[citation needed]

The group performed for an annual 4th of July festival in Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton beginning in 1970. The event lasted for 25 years and included many legends from the world of country music including Mel Tillis, Charley Pride and many others. The event drew as many as 100,000 fans each year.


Academy of Country Music

Country Music Association

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Gospel Hall of Fame

Grammy Awards


The group retired after completing a farewell tour on October 26, 2002. Balsley and the Reid brothers continue to reside in their hometown of Staunton, Virginia. Fortune has relocated to Nashville, where he is pursuing a solo career. He has released three albums as a soloist. The Statlers continue to be the most awarded act in the history of country music.[14]

Don has authored or co-authored three books since the Statlers' retirement in 2002. They are Heroes and Outlaws of the Bible, Sunday Morning Memories, and You'll Know It's Christmas When.... He and Harold co-wrote a history of the Statler Brothers titled Random Memories released in February 2008.


Wil and Langdon Reid, the sons of Harold and Don respectively, formed a band in the 1990s called Grandstaff. In 2007, Grandstaff recorded "The Statler Brothers Song," a tribute song to the Statler Brothers.


The Statler Brothers have been credited with being the first act in country music to transfer the genre's nostalgia from a rural setting to a suburban setting.[7] They have also been called "America's Poets" by Kurt Vonnegut.[15]


External links


  1. ^ a b c d W. K. McNeil, ed (2005). "“The Statler Brothers”". Encyclopedia of Gospel Music. New York: Routeledge. pp. 376. ISBN 0415941792.. 
  2. ^ a b Irwin Stamler & Grelund Landon, ed (1997). "“The Statler Brothers”". Country Music: The Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan. pp. 459. ISBN 0312264879. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Lew DeWitt, 52, Tenor With the Statler Brothers". New York Times (obituary). (17 August 1990) retrieved 10 April 2008).
  5. ^ "GMA Canada Launches Fan Choice Award". Gospel Music Association Canada. (September 2007) Retrieved on 18 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Biography". Rex Allen, Jr's official website. (undated). Retrieved on 18 April 2008
  7. ^ a b "Artist Biography: The Statler Brothers". Country Music Television. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  8. ^ The Statler Brothers. "Discography". The Statler Brothers' official website (undated). Retrieved 10 April 2008
  9. ^ "Statler Brothers: Country Hall of Fame Honor Tops". USA Today (June 27, 2008). Retrieved August 20, 2008
  10. ^ "Gospel Music Hall of Fame 2007 Induction Ceremony"Gospel Music Association official website, (undated). Retrieved March 29, 2008
  11. ^ "Grammy Award Winners: 1965, Country". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences official website. (undated). Retrieved March 29, 2008
  12. ^ "Grammy Award Winners: 1972, Pop." National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences official website. (undated). Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  13. ^ "Grammy Award Winners: 1972, Country." National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences official website. (undated). Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  14. ^ Kathy Coleman. "About the Statler Brothers". (undated). Retrieved 13 April 2008
  15. ^ "Blue Ridge PBS features Statler Brothers Farewell Concert". Birthplace of Country Music. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 


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