An Iconic Band of ‘Brothers’ Had People ‘Weeping’ While Listening To Their Soul-Stirring Hit Song

Renowned American country music group The Statler Brothers was one of the most prominent vocal groups in the music industry back in the day. Formed in 1955 in Staunton, Virginia, the quartet was composed of brothers Harold and Don Reid, Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt.

Since then, they have gone on to receive significant attention and buzz when they became backing vocalists for Johnny Cash, a role they had until the mid-1960s. Eventually, they became independent and carved a name for themselves when they signed with Mercury Records in 1964. Their perfect fusion of country, pop and even gospel had the brothers skyrocketing to stardom and fame.

Unbeknownst to many, the band’s origin is not what many expected of them. Despite being called “brothers,” only two of them are related, and none of them has the surname “Statler.”

Despite this, the band’s success has overshadowed their rather laughable beginnings.

Throughout the years, they have released dozens of iconic albums and songs, which have been characterized by tight harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. Their songwriting prowess was also lauded by many, which made them one of the most successful quartets at the time. They penned songs that left an indelible mark on the music industry and are still enjoyed by many.

Beyond their musical achievements, the group was a mainstay on television screens, hosting “The Statler Brothers Show” from 1991 to 1998. This television venture allowed the Statler Brothers to connect with fans on a more personal level, reinforcing their status as beloved entertainers.

Read on to learn more about the Statler Brothers and how they penned one of their most iconic songs ever, which had the whole country crying.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video 🙂

The Statler Brothers (circa 1970), (Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

In 1963, when Cash was performing at the Roanoke Fair in Virginia, he met four talented men. The singer was impressed with their vocals, and right then and there, he hired them “on a handshake” to tour with him for the next 10 years.

The young group of singers had trouble establishing their identity. At first, they called themselves the Four Star Quartet and later The Kingsmen. However, when the song “Louie Louie” hit the charts by the Oregon-born band The Kingsmen, they knew they had to change theirs.

Don and Harold, the only brothers in the group, along with Balsley and DeWitt, brainstormed the idea for their new name while at a hotel. At the time, Don’s eyes hit on something, a box of Statler brand tissues – and voila, they became The Statler Brothers.

“We could have been the Kleenex Brothers,” Don said at the time.

Afterward, they toured with Cash and made a name on their own. They released “Flowers On The Wall,” which became a hit in both the country and Billboard Hot 100 charts. They also beat out The Beatles and The Supremes, earning their first Grammy Awards for Best New Country and Western Artist, and Best Contemporary Performance (Group).

In 1994, that same song blasted on the radio again when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” It was included in the soundtrack that sold millions of copies worldwide.

Speaking to Living Virginia, the group attributed their music industry education to Cash.

“Being with him for those years was our education in the music business. We learned what to do, what not to do, and we left on the best of terms,” Don said.

The band went on to release more than 40 albums and won nine Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year awards.

The Statler Brothers (circa 1970), (Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

The Statler Brothers had their very own weekly variety show, “The Statler Brothers Show,” from 1991 to 1998. In one episode of their show, they played their song, “More Than A Name On A Wall,” which brought many to tears.

The recording of that performance was uploaded to YouTube, and people expressed their memories after rewatching the iconic performance.

“I’m 70 years old and lost friends in Vietnam. Their name is on that wall. I cry every time I hear this song,” a user said.

“Never can I hear this without weeping. Thank you brothers and sisters for serving in that hell hole. Welcome home,” another wrote.

“I’ve never served, but my husband did and I am thankful to have him with me. I thank all the families and friends that lost their lives ones in service. This song is very powerful and it’s hard not to shed a few tears when listening to it. Wonderful video,” a third person commented.

Jimmy Fortune, who replaced DeWitt in the band after he left due to medical reasons, wrote the now-iconic song. It tells the story of the black polished Vietnam Memorial wall, whose names of the more than 58,000 fallen American heroes are inscribed. Fortune explained the lyrics in an interview with Strictly Country.

“You look at it. You look at each one of those lines from a distance, you look at it and see those lines stacked on top of each other, and they seem like they go on forever, and forever, and forever,” he said at the time. “I realized that was a mother’s child. That was someone’s husband. Just all the stories and all the memories of that child…It just hit me that they are more than a name on a wall.”

Are you a fan of The Statler Brothers? What is your favorite song of theirs? Do you also cry whenever you listen to “More Than A Name On A Wall?” Let us know, and pass this on to your family, friends and other loved ones out there!

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