The Statler Brothers were an American country music vocal group founded in 1955 in Staunton, Virginia. Originally performing gospel music at local churches, the group billed themselves as The Four Star Quartet, and later The Kingsmen. In 1963, when the song “Louie, Louie” by the garage rock band also called The Kingsmen became famous, the group elected to bill themselves as The Statler Brothers. Despite the name, only two members of the group (Don and Harold Reid) are actual brothers and none have the surname of “Statler.” The band, in fact, named themselves after a brand of facial tissue they had noticed in a hotel room (they joked that they could have turned out to be the Kleenex Brothers). Since forming, the Statler Brothers have released over 40 albums.
Don Reid sang lead and Harold Reid, Don's older brother, sang bass. Phil Balsley sang baritone and Jimmy Fortune sang tenor after replacing original tenor Lew DeWitt in the early 1980s due to the latter's ill health.
The group remained closely tied to their gospel roots, with a majority of their records containing at least one gospel song. They produced several albums containing only gospel music and recorded a tribute song to the Blackwood Brothers, who influenced their music
The Statler Brothers started their career at a performance at Lyndhurst Methodist Church near their hometown of Staunton. In 1964, they started an eight-year run with Johnny Cash as his opening act. This period of their career was memorialized in their song “We Got Paid by Cash.”
Two of their best-known songs are “Flowers on the Wall,” their first major hit, and the socially conscious “Bed of Rose's.” Between 1991 and 1998, they hosted their own show on TNN, “The Statler Brothers Show,” a weekly variety show and the channel's top-rated program for its entire run.
Throughout their career, much of their appeal was related to their incorporation of comedy and parody into their musical act, thanks in large part to the humorous talent of Harold Reid and they were frequently nominated for awards for their comedy as well as their singing. They recorded two comedy albums as Lester “Roadhog” Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys, and one-half of one side of the 1972 album “Country Music Then and Now” was devoted to satirizing small-town radio stations' Saturday morning shows.
They earned the #1 spot on the Billboard charts four times for “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine?” in 1978, “Elizabeth" in 1982, “My Only Love” in 1984 and “Too Much on My Heart” in 1985.
The group disbanded and retired after completing a farewell tour in October 2002. Balsley and the Reid brothers continue to reside in Staunton, while Fortune has relocated to Nashville, where he is continuing his music career as a solo artist. He has released three albums as a soloist. The Statlers continue to be the most awarded act in the history of country music.