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True Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texas

Famous People from Gaines County Texas
Larry Gatlin
Larry Gatlin
Larry Gatlin was born May 2 1948 in Seminole, Texas, the son of a driller in the oil field, the family lived in several locations while he was a youth, including Abilene and Odessa. In 1964, Gatlin was a quarterback at Odessa High School.
Gatlin Bros on the Slim Willet Show 1950s
Gatlin Bros on The Slim Willet Show 1950s

The oldest of the three Gatlin brothers, he was by age seven, already accompanying younger brothers, Steve and Rudy in singing at family and church events. He was reared listening to country and Southern gospel music. His brothers, Steve and Rudy, and he have performed together since childhood; when they were younger, they often sang in their local church with their sister, LaDonna, joining them as well. They sometimes performed on local radio stations, and occasionally on television shows. They also recorded a Gospel music album for the Gospel label Sword and Shield. The brothers even managed to beat out the legendary Roy Orbison in a local talent contest.

After graduation from high school in 1966, he went to the University of Houston on a football scholarship. As a wide receiver on the football team, he caught a touchdown pass in a 1968 game in Houston's 100-6 win over the University of Tulsa; one of the most lopsided games in modern college football history.

In December 1973, Gatlin released his first album, The Pilgrim. Two singles were released from the album: "Sweet Becky Walker" and "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall", though both failed to chart. The latter was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1976 (who had also recorded Gatlin's "Help Me" in 1973). In 1974 came the release of a new album, Rain/Rainbow, and a new song "Delta Dirt". The album and single proved more successful. "Delta Dirt" was a top-20 country hit, peaking at number 14. The song was also Gatlin's only entry on the pop charts, when it reached number 84. In 1975, Gatlin had his first major hit with his composition "Broken Lady", which reached number five on the Hot Country Songs chart in 1976. Gatlin won a Grammy Award for the song in 1977 for Best Country Song. A new album, High Time, was released in 1976. Gatlin is also credited on guitar on Willie Nelson's 1976 album The Troublemaker.

Brothers Steve and Rudy made their first appearance on Larry's 1976 album Larry Gatlin with Family & Friends. They were featured on some of Gatlin's other hits during the late 1970s, notably "I Don't Wanna Cry", "Love Is Just a Game", and "Statues Without Hearts". In 1978, Gatlin scored his first number-one hit with "I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love." Gatlin continued his success as a solo artist until 1978, when he released his last solo album, Oh Brother, which featured the top-10 hits "I've Done Enough Dyin' Today" and "Night Time Magic", the latter of which also made an entry into the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Both songs spotlighted Gatlin's soaring falsetto that became a trademark of his vocal style.

In 1979, when Gatlin signed with Columbia Records, he decided to officially have his brothers billed on his singles and on his albums. That year, their name was officially "Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers". In October, they released the album Straight Ahead. It spawned the classic single "All the Gold in California", which became their biggest hit together, reaching number one on the Hot Country Songs list. This was Gatlin's second number-one hit and led to his being awarded "Top Male Vocalist of the Year" by the Academy of Country Music that year. On June 6, 1980, Straight Ahead was certified gold.

Gatlin underwent surgery on his vocal cords in 1991 after the years of wear and tear on his voice. In concert, he had begun to struggle with the high falsetto notes that were featured prominently in many of his songs.

After more than a decade of singing together, in December 1992, the Gatlin Brothers embarked on a farewell tour before retiring to their own theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Gatlin went on to star in the Broadway production of The Will Rogers Follies. In 1994, Gatlin and his brothers opened a 2,000-seat theater in Myrtle Beach. In 1995, he played himself in the TV movie about Dottie West's life, Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story.

Gatlin co-wrote with celebrity biographer Jeff Lenburg a memoir called All the Gold in California that was published in 1998.

Since 2010, Gatlin has contributed to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network as a political and social commentator. In 2010, Gatlin acted as substitute host for Don Imus on Imus in the Morning and Fox Across America with Spencer Hughes on March 16, 2011.

 

Larry currently resides in Nashville with his wife, Janis, to whom he’s been married for over 51 years. They are the proud parents of two children, Josh and Kristin. He is also “Papa” to Kristin’s daughters, Parker and Campbell.
 

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