Larry Gatlin has been one of my favorites for almost 40 years. He was one of the so-called “countrypolitian” singers of the 70s and 80s who helped bridge the gap between country and pop. He has 33 Top 40 hit singles on the Billboard Country Charts.
What many people ignore is that he was one of the great song writers of that generation, in any genre. He wrote songs for himself and for many other country stars, particularly for his mentor and friend, Dotty West.
His pure tenor has a bell-like quality and his inflections carry a deep sincerity that few can duplicate. Most popular male country music are baritones. There are a few tenors who are exceptions, particularly Marty Robbins in the 50s, David Houston in the 60s, and Gatlin in the 70s and 80s.
While he no longer tours much, spending most of his time with family and with his shows at his Myrtle Beach theater, he can sometimes be seen on the Gaither gospel show, singing the old Southern gospel songs that he loved as a child when he and his brothers sung in the Texas church the family attended.
He also does another type of "touring": visiting schools and churches, being interviewed on TV and radio, and using other venues to tell his story about his alcohol and drug addiction, something which he personally went through with devastating effects on his own career.
As with my other tribute posts, this one shares a few representative You Tube videos. As usual, I urge you to use good earphones, earbuds, or quality external speakers to have any real idea about the talent of the artists in this Tribute Series.
Links to my other music tributes and music posts are gathered together in the left column of this blog.
So, sit back, put the headphones on, and enjoy one of the great swing, ballad and pop oriented country singers on the last 50 years.
First, a recent interview on a Christian talk show which gives you an idea of his backgound and his thoughts on writing songs, ending with a live renditon of his hit, “All the Gold in California.”
Early recording of “Broken Lady”
An upbeat swinging “crossover” hit: “Somebody’s Baby.”
A favorite of mine that never made it big, but just listen to the truth of the words. “Midnight Choir”
A Crossover hit that features great harmony. “Sure Feels Like Love”
“Sweet Becky Walker” was an early hit. This is a later re-recording. Their voices have matured and deepened on this track.
A big hit in ’80 or ’81 right before Larry’s downward spiral with alcohol and drugs. "What Are We Doin' Lonesome?”
Upbeat Texas Swing hit: “Houston.”
Larry is a lifelong Pentacostal Christian and loves to sing gospel. Here he is singing a modern gospel tune. He is often invited to sing with the with the Gaither Gospel Choir by his old friends, Bill and Gloria Gaither. "Healing Stream”
Final Video: A huge hit that features Larry at his best. “Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall”