Classic country legends Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, and special guest Joe Diffie, will perform their hits on Friday, February 28 at Eagle Mountain Casino.
Over 50 years ago, Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin started singing in their little hometown of Abilene, Texas, and from there went on to a four-decade career that has taken them from dusty Texas stages to White House performances, from Broadway to Grammy Awards to the top of the country charts. Raised on gospel music, the brothers first began entertaining audiences in churches and then with guest appearances on the Slim Willet radio and TV shows in Abilene when they were 2, 4, and 6 years old. Larry says that their history as “gospel music junkies” came from those early roots.
“My folks took us to those old-fashioned Southern-style quartet concerts, and it was love at first sound,” he said. “My first hero was James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. I just knew somehow from that moment that I wanted to be a singer for the rest of my life.”
After high school, Larry went to the University of Houston on a football scholarship. He majored in English and quickly developed “a love affair with the English language” that later served him well in his songwriting. On the strength of his songwriting talents and exceptional vocal ability, his life was changed by the legendary Dottie West who saw gold just under the unpolished surface of young Gatlin. The early 70’s found Steve and Rudy in college while Larry, aided by West, moved to Nashville to write songs that would be recorded by names like Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Streisand, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley.
In 1972, Larry landed a solo deal with Monument Records through friend Kris Kristofferson and invited his siblings up to Nashville to sing backup on his first two albums, 1974’s “The Pilgrim” and 1975’s “Rain Rainbow.” The release of “The Pilgrim” landed Gatlin his first hit with “Sweet Becky Walker,” and he found himself at No. 1 on the charts the next year with “Broken Lady,” a song that captured him a Grammy. The same year, all three brothers were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. 1977’s “High Time,” credited to “Larry Gatlin with Brothers and Friends,” featured the No. 1 hit “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love.” The success of this album encouraged the brothers to become an official trio and in 1979, they signed a group deal with Columbia Records. When demand from hit records sent them on the road, the Gatlin Brothers proved more than capable of fulfilling the musical call on their lives.
Over the next decade, the brothers scored more than a dozen Top 40 hits, including “Denver,” “Houston (Means that I’m One Day Closer to You),” Midnight Choir (Mogen David),” “She Used to Be Somebody’s Baby,” “I Don’t Want to Cry,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “What Are We Doing Lonesome,” “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today,” “Take Me to Your Lovin’ Place,” “Night Time Magic,” “Love Is Just a Game,” “The Lady Takes the Cowboy Every Time,” and “Talkin’ to the Moon.” In 1979, Larry Gatlin won the ACM’s “Top Male Vocalist,” “Straight Ahead” won “Album of the Year,” and “All The Gold In California” won “Single of the Year.”
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Gatlin Brothers lit up major marquees and packed concert halls across America. Then, in 1992 after much soul searching and prayer, the brothers made a decision to stop touring. They ended with “The Adios Tour” along with an accompanying album release of the same name, and it gave the boys a chance to say goodbye to their fans and for the fans to say goodbye to the Gatlin Brothers.
“We just thought our time in the spotlight was probably over,” explained Larry. “We had a great run and are thankful for it. We felt it was someone else’s turn in the spotlight.” Since then, however, according to Larry, a promoter in Delaware “made us an offer we couldn’t understand…so we took it. Since then a popular ground swell, maybe not a large popular ground swell, but a ground swell nonetheless, has arisen that has persuaded us to do some selected dates that we are calling ‘The Gatlin Brothers Never Ending Reunion Tour.’”
The show begins at 8pm. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit www.eaglemountaincasino.com.