Don Reid, the lead singer for the country music group The Statler Brothers (Don’s the bearded one, the others are brother Harold Reid [the bass singer], Phil Balsley [baritone] and Jimmy Fortune [tenor]) turns 65 today—and as a longtime Statler fan, I’m pleased to present him in today’s Thrilling Days of Yesteryear birthday spotlight. Sadly, the brothers Statler (for the uninformed, the “Statler” moniker came from a brand name of facial tissue) retired in 2002 (though Fortune is still in the music bidness with a solo career)…and the odds of hearing any of their songs on the radio nowadays are slim and none. (By the way—don’t tell my Mom about this post…if she found out I put up a picture of the Statlers without Lew Dewitt [the former tenor who passed away in 1990] she’d write out me out of the will faster than you can sing Do You Know You are My Sunshine?)
I’ve mentioned this on the blog in the past, but I’ve often speculated that my love for old movies and other areas of nostalgia just may have very well been influenced by several of the Statler Brothers’ songs; notably Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott, a tribute to the great B-western heroes of the past (the Statlers were huge fans of these films, often watching videotapes on their bus to pass the time while touring), and Do You Remember These—the lyrics of which I published in this post from 2008, when the group was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Several other Statler Brothers hits—Pictures, The Class of ’57, Silver Medals and Sweet Memories, You Can’t Go Home, Carry Me Back, Susan When She Tried, How to Be a Country Star, The Official Historian on Shirley Jean Berrell—all worked a similar theme of a wistful longing for the past when things were simpler and not quite complicated, to borrow a lyric from one of their tunes.
I was about fourteen years old when the Statler Brothers took a tune called The Movies to the country Top Ten in 1977, and to this day I often find myself humming it when I’m preoccupied with writing or goofing around on the computer. Written by Lew Dewitt, it’s a celebration of those wonderful flickering silver screen images that have been a passion of mine since I stared in amazement at a forty-foot ape atop the