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Gatlin Brothers bring a lifetime of music to The Palace

Shirley McMarlin
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Gatlin Brothers
The Gatlin Brothers will perform June 21 in The Palace Theatre in Greensburg. The Grammy Award-winning country and gospel trio includes (from left) brothers Steve, Larry and Rudy Gatlin.

After more than six decades on the road, “All the Gold in California” couldn’t get country music’s Gatlin Brothers to stop touring.

Or could it?

At a time of life when lesser men might consider retiring, the trio still boards the tour bus for more than 50 dates a year. Why?

“We need the money!” says Rudy Gatlin, 66.

Though the line was delivered somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Gatlin says the touring life has given him and older brothers Larry and Steve “a way of life that we’ve become accustomed to. It’s a good life.”

Making music is also a labor of love.

“I could do other things, but I don’t want to,” he says. “And as long as you can do it, you do it.”

Gatlin likens the love of music to the love a great athlete has for the game, throwing in a Western Pennsylvania reference in the process.

“I guarantee you that (former Dallas Cowboys quarterback) Roger Staubach would still like to be playing,” he says. “I know him, and I know that loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the (1979) Super Bowl still bothers him.”

Early start

The Gatlin Brothers will bring their love of music and their hits-filled song catalog — including the signature “All the Gold in California” — to Greensburg’s Palace Theatre on June 21.

Special guest will be Tom Tippin, son of country singer Aaron Tippin.

There’s hardly a time Rudy Gatlin can remember when he wasn’t making music.

In 1955, when Larry was 7, Steve was 4 and Rudy was 2, their parents entered them in a talent show in their native Abilene, Texas.

After that, they were on the road on weekends, singing in churches and any other venue that would have them, Rudy says. It’s been that way ever since.

As kids, they recorded gospel albums and sang from California to New York, including a gig at the 1964 World’s Fair.

After studying at the University of Houston, Larry went off to Nashville as both a singer and songwriter, while Rudy and Steve were still in college at Texas Tech. Singer Dottie West introduced Larry to Kris Kristofferson, who helped him along the road to recording his first album.

Rudy and Steve arrived in Nashville in 1975 to sing backup for country legend Tammy Wynette. The following year, they joined big brother as Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, making it a family affair once again.

Hit parade

Through the years, the brothers have garnered accolades from the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. This year marks the 40th anniversary for “All the Gold in California” being named ACM single of the year.

They’ve had seven No. 1 singles and 32 Top 40 records. They’ve been members of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 40 years and have sung for the last eight U.S. presidents.

Songs penned by Larry were recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich, Johnny Mathis and others.

With such a deep catalog, Rudy says, there’s no way The Palace audience will hear all the Gatlin Brothers hits, which include “Broken Lady,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” “What Are We Doin’ Lonesome,” “Denver,” and “Houston.”

There certainly won’t be any time — or need — for cover songs.

“We’ve got a deal with the Oak Ridge Boys,” he says. “We don’t do ‘Elvira,’ and they don’t do ‘All the Gold in California.’”

Details: 724-836-8000 or thepalacetheatre.org

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: AandE | Music
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