Whatever Happened To The Statler Brothers?
Four names. Harold, Lew, Don, and Phil.
Oh and wait, there's a fifth name, too. Jimmy.
Say those names to anyone who loved country music in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s and even today, and they'll know you're talking about the most honored country music group in history.
The Statler Brothers.
The Statler's, formed in 1955, came to national prominence in 1965 with the release of their first (mega)hit 'Flowers On The Wall'.
Of course, only two of the boys were actually brothers, Harold and Don Reid. Add in the beautiful voices of Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt and you had the makings of country music history. An over 8-year run opening for the Johnny Cash Show exposed them to millions of new fans...who became dedicated fans of this 4-some from Staunton, Virginia.
Beginning in 1972 the Statler's were the Country Music Association's Vocal Group of the Year nine of the next twelve years, including six years in a row. Add three prestigious Grammy's, as well as induction into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Hall of Fame (the Statler's included Gospel music at every show), and you begin to get an idea of what the Statler's Brothers meant, not only to country music but to music, period. And no story about the Statler's would be complete with giving a nod to their alter-ego's, Lester 'Roadhog' Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys!
But even with all those awards, all the thrill's the Statler's gave to millions and millions of fans around the world, their story is not without tragedy.
It was on August 15, 1990, that Lew DeWitt passed away from complications due to Crohns disease. Lew was just 52 years old.
It was shortly thereafter that Jimmy became a Statler Brother...Jimmy Fortune.
And while it had to personally have been difficult to deal with Lew's death, at least from the outside, it seemed they didn't miss a beat. Jimmy brought not only a beautiful voice to the group, but he also brought along sensational writing talents as well, including the now-classic 'More Than A Name On A Wall'
So whatever happened to the most honored country music group in history?
Retirement. The Statler Brothers finished a final tour and retired from performing as a group with a final show on October 26, 2002. Jimmy Fortune continues to tour and record as a solo act. Harold, Don, and Phil are home in their beloved Staunton, Virginia.