The Gatlin Brothers, Larry, Steve and Rudy, take the stage at the McPherson Opera House Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. The Grammy Award-winning trio have been dazzling audiences for more than 60 years and hold a lifetime of noteworthy achievements in their storybook career, including a Grammy for Best Country Song (“Broken Lady”), three ACM awards for Single of the Year (“All The Gold In California”), Album of the Year (Straight Ahead) and Male Vocalist of the Year for Larry Gatlin, along with five nominations for CMA Vocal Group of the Year, Single, Album and Male Vocalist of the Year. The Brothers have accumulated seven No. 1 singles, 32 Top 40 Records, 22 studio albums and 5 BMI “Million-Air” Awards. Larry ranks fourth as Solo Writer’s with the most self-penned top 40 Billboard Hits. His massive song catalog has been recorded by the Who’s Who of entertainers, including Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Kris Kristofferson, Sir Tom Jones, Dottie West, Charlie Rich, Johnny Mathis and dozens of others, securing his legacy as one of BMI’s top solo songwriters of all time.
The Gatlin Brothers have entertained audiences in some of the world’s largest venues and from some of the most iconic stages, including the GRAMMY Awards, the American Music Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Oprah, Hee Haw, Love Boat, the Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, the Merv Griffin Show, Solid Gold, the Barbara Mandrell Show and their own variety special on ABC – “Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.”
In 1976, the Gatlin Brothers were on the fast track, thanks to the chart-topping success of the Grammy Award-winning single “Broken Lady.” The hits continued throughout the decade with their signature song “All the Gold in California” followed by “Houston” (Means I’m One Step Closer to You). The next decade brought number one hits with “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone to Love,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “Love Is Just A Game,” and “Night Time Magic.”
It all began in Abilene, Texas in 1955 when Larry was seven, Steve four and Rudy two. The brothers grew up singing gospel music after listening to James Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers, Hovie Lister and The Stateman Quartet as well other accomplished gospel artists. As children the brothers would sing for anyone that would listen. Soon they were singing from coast to coast and appeared at the World’s Fair in 1964 in New York City. They recorded four Gospel records early in their career. In 1966 Larry went to college where he studied English and Law at the University of Houston. In 1971, he auditioned for the legendary group, the Imperials, Elvis’ backup group. While he did not get the job, he met Dottie West, who was the opening act for Jimmy Dean. Dean would later become one of Larry’s oldest and best friends. West was initially taken with Larry’s resemblance to Nashville songwriter Mickey Newbury. West told him one night in their backstage dressing room at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas that he looked so much like Mickey Newbury, that he had to be able to write great songs. Larry returned to Houston and wrote eight songs. He sent them to Dottie and she liked them so much she sent him a plane ticket to Nashville.
Through West, he met Kris Kristofferson, who championed Gatlin’s talent as a writer and singer. Kristofferson introduced Larry to Fred Foster at Monument Records which resulted in a recording contract with the label. Larry’s first album, The Pilgrim, was released later that year. Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for the album and dubbed him “The Pilgrim” a name Cash called Larry his entire life. Steve and Rudy were still in college at Texas Tech University and in 1975 they moved to Nashville to sing backup with Tammy Wynette. The two later joined Larry in 1976 to form Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers.
Since then, they have performed at famed venues, including the White House, the President Reagan Library, Air Force One, Ford’s Theater, Camp David, President Bush’s 80th Birthday Party, The Lincoln Theater, with the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, Madison Square Garden Venetian Room, West Point, Dollywood, The Mall in D.C. for July 4th, the Greek Theater, Billy Bob’s, Radio City Music Hall, Disney World and Wembley Music Festival. In addition, they have graced the stage with legendary entertainers, from all over the world, like Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill and Gospels acts, including the Oak Ridge Boys, the Gaither Vocal Band, the Isaacs and many others.
The brothers have also proudly entertained our U.S. Troops in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Germany, & at many military bases in the United States as well. They have appeared at famed sporting events performing the National Anthem for the ’85 and ’89 World Series, the US Open Tennis Tournament, at Yankee Stadium, the Astrodome, Nissan Titans Stadium, Candlestick Park, Chicago White Sox Ballpark, NHL All Star Hockey Game, Darlington NASCAR Speedway, the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Giants Stadium, New Orleans Saints Superdome, Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Tickets range from $45-$70 and are available at http://www.mcphersonoperahouse.org, by calling 620-241-1952, or visiting the box office at 219 S. Main Street, McPherson.