Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Lewis DeWitt)

Columbia 43315

No. 4    January 8, 1966




These boys  are  neither Statlers nor brothers, but they are the undisputed kings of country group

harmony. The Statlers won the Country Music Association’s “Group of the Year” award for every year

between 1972 and 1977, and again in 1979 and 1980.   More than 60 of their singles have made Billboard’s

C & W charts, and a  dozen  of their LPs  have made contact with the top  pop albums  listings.    Their 1975

“Best of” compilation has reportedly sold more than 2,000,000 copies, and is still in print.    Since 1970,

the  Statler  Brothers have been throwing an Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration in Staunton,

Virginia,  that in the mid’90s has been drawing more than 90,000 people, making  it the largest annual

country-music festival in the world.


Bass singer Harold Wilson Reid (b. Aug.  31,1939, Augusta County,  Va.), tenor Lew C. DeWitt (b. March 8,

1938, Roanoke County), and baritone Philip E. Balsley (b. Phillip Elwood, Aug. 8, 1939, Augusta County)

started singing together  in 1955 at the Lyndhurst Methodist  Church in Staunton.    They were the

Kingsmen, gospel groovers with a unique sound and they  knew it, but in 1958, they went their separate

ways.    Two years later, they reorganized, adding a lead singer–Harold’s younger brother Donald Sydney

Reid (b. June 5,1945, Staunton).


Their big break came in 1963, when the group met Johnny Cash backstage at Watermelon Park in

Berryville, Virginia.    Cash eventually added the boys to his  traveling show, let them appear on his TV

show and soon introduced them to the bigwigs at Columbia.    Figuring the “Man in Black” knew where

of he boasted, Columbia signed the singing act, which had switched over to secular music.    For nearly

two years, their vinyl issuances vanished  without much notice.    Columbia was about to cut the Statlers

loose when Cash snuck them in on one of  his recording sessions to cut “Flowers On The   Wall.”    This

nonsense number about languishing love won two Grammys–the Statlers were voted “Best New Country

Group,”and their smash won “Best Contemporary Performance by a Country Group.”


“I really shouldn’t be saying this to a professional journalist,” Harold  once admitted to Country Music’s

Patrick Carr, “but we just ain’t got no hook.    We’re patriotism and nostalgia and Mom and apple pie, and

that’s it.    What more can you say?     We’re the Bland Brothers.”


Where  did the “Statler Brothers” name come from, anyway?    As Harold told Rick Marschall in The

Encyclopedia of  Country and Western Music,  “We could just as easily have become the Kleene Brothers.”

You see, when holed up in a shabby hotel and in need of a new name, one of the brothers happened to

notice a box of Statler facial tissues.


Between 1965 and 1993, the Statlers have receved more than 80 awards, from the American Music Awards,

Country Music Awards, Country Music News…70+ singles have won positions on Billboard’s Country

charts; four such 45s have garnered the number one slot:   “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine” (1978),

“Elizabeth” (1983), “My Only Love” (1984), “Too Much On My Heart.”


The Statler Brothers’ line-up has remained the same for all these years, except for the departure of Lew

DeWitt in 1982 for reasons of ill health.    Lew went on to record one solo album, On My Own.    His

replacement was Jimmy Fortune (b. Lester James Fortune, March 11, 1955, Newport News, Virginia).

Currently, the Statler’s host their own show on the Nashville Network.    Lew DeWitt died from Crohn’s

disease on August 15, 1990.