Still to this day, Larry Gatlin is thankful he was
mistaken for someone else.
In 1971, while auditioning for The Imperials, who
went on to play in Jimmy Deanís Las Vegas Revue, Gatlin
caught the attention of country singer Dottie West,
because she thought he looked like county singer and
songwriter Mickey Newbury.
What West found out about Gatlin was he was an
immensely talented singer and songwriter from Texas, who
later penned several of her songs, including "Youíre the
Other Half of Me" and "Once You Were Mine."
So impressed and convinced of Gatlinís talent, West
issued several copies of Gatlinís demo tapes throughout
Nashville and arranged for the twentysomething Texan to
move to Music City, even buying him a plane ticket.
West struck gold with Gatlin, who was later joined by
his brothers, Steve and Rudy, to form the country music
trio Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.
On Friday, Larry will perform a single solo show at
7:30 p.m. at the Marcus Center in downtown Milwaukee.
He is excited to return to Milwaukee.
"I love (Milwaukee)," Larry said. "I was a big
Milwaukee Braves fan.
I can remember the starting infield, maybe all of
"Letís see ó Del
Crandall, Warren Spahn, Joe Adcock, Eddie Mathews, Hank
Aaron, Wes Covington ... pretty good, huh?"
He loved the Braves because his grandfather taught
him how to play baseball and grandpa loved Warren Spahn.
"Very early on, maybe fifth or sixth grade, I read
his biography about how he tore up his arm and that he
thought he wasnít going to pitch again," Larry said.
Larry added he also loved playing at Summerfest.
"Itís a wonderful city," Larry said. "I have a lot of
Recently, Larry has been dealing with a sore throat,
but he promises heíll be ready to belt out the legendary
tunes fans came to adore from him and his brothers.
Those hits include chart-toppers "All the Gold in
California," "Houston (Means Iím One Day Closer To You)"
"I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love," plus "Talkiní
to the Moon,"
"The Lady Takes the Cowboy All the Time" and "Broken
Larry learned early on he had a love for singing,
often popping a nickel into the jukebox at the local
steakhouse and singing along to songs like "Hey Good
Lookiní" by Hank Williams. And people took notice.
Thatís how he knew he had something to offer.
"I loved it," Larry said.
Larry and his brothers often sang gospel music at
their local church and performed on local radio and
television shows. One year, the brothers beat out Roy
Orbison in a local talent contest.
Soon after meeting West, Larry found work as a
background singer for Kris Kristofferson.
In 1973, Larry signed with Monument Records. In 1974,
he had his first top-20 hit, "Delta Dirt." In 1975, he
had his first top-five hit with "Broken Lady," winning a
Grammy for Best Country Song. The following year, he had
his second top-five hit with "Statues without Hearts."
Larryís first No. 1 was in 1978, "I Just Wish You
Were Someone I Love."
"I love to write songs," Larry said. "Thatís why Iím
here. Thatís the joy of my life. The fact people will
pay their hard-earned money to hear me do it is a great
blessing. Iím honored. Itís the best job in the world."
In 1979, Larry signed with Columbia Records and his
brothers joined the mix. They were an immediate success.
The first single the brothers released reached No. 1,
"All the Gold in California."
Also that year, they won three trophies from the
Academy of Country Music ó
Single of the Year ("All the Gold in California") and
Album of the Year ("Straight Ahead"), and Larry won Male
Vocalist of the Year.
The trio went on to record 33 top-40 hits, including
eight No. 1 singles, and Larry wrote all 33 of them.
"Larry will forever be grateful to Dottie West, for
her assistance and guidance in helping him come to
Nashville and start writing and recording songs," said
Bonnie Brozik, Larryís assistant.
Brozik added Larry is also grateful for the
opportunity to achieve chart-topping success with his
"Larry has always been grateful for his success and
in awe of the places they visited and the people they
met, and especially, the friends they made," Brozik
said. "Family has always been the most important thing
to Larry. He loves nothing more than singing with his
brothers, to this day."
As for the audition? Well, Larry didnít land the gig.
But things still worked out quite well for him and his
"We knew we were given an ability by God and we tried
to use it for a story and make a living," Larry said.
"Itís worked out real well."
Reach Nicholas Dettmann at
email@example.com or 262-306-5043.