Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers have been dazzling audiences for more than 60 years. It all began in Abilene, Texas in 1955, when Larry was six, Steve was four, and Rudy was two. Since those days, the road the brothers have plowed has won them countless awards and has taken them to numerous concert halls, festival stages, national television shows and even the White House on several occasions. The brothers have seen their music top the charts and touch the lives of fans of all ages.
The brothers grew up singing gospel music after listening to James Blackwood and the Blackwood brothers, Hovie Lister, the Statesman Quartet and many others. The brothers would sing anywhere and everywhere people would listen. As children their music has taken them coast-to-coast, even singing at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. They also recorded four Gospel records.
In 1966 Larry went off to college – studying English and law at the University of Houston. In 1971, he auditioned for the legendary Imperials, Elvis’ backup group. He didn’t get the job, but he met Dottie West, who was the opening act for the legendary Jimmy Dean, who would become one of Larry’s oldest and best friends. Dottie was initially taken with Larry’s resemblance to Nashville songwriter Mickey Newbury. Dottie told him one night in their backstage dressing room at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas, “Larry, you look so much like Mickey Newbury, you’ve just got to be able to write great songs.” After the gig in Vegas, 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 became a champion on Gatlin’s talent as a writer and singer. Kristofferson introduced Larry to Fred Foster at Monument Records, which resulted in a contract with the record label. His first album, The Pilgrim, was released later that year. Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for his first album, and dubbed him “The Pilgrim,” which is what he called Larry until the day he died. Steve and Rudy were still in college at Texas Tech University and moved to Nashville in 1975 to sing backup with Tammy Wynette. The two of them joined Larry in the summer of 1976 to form Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers.
By 1976, the Gatlin Brothers were in the fast lane, thanks to the chart-topping success of…
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