Larry Gatlin was born in 1948 in Seminole, Texas, the son of an oil driller. The oldest of the three Gatlin brothers, he was by age seven, already accompanying younger brothers, Steve and Rudy in singing at family and church events.
After high school, Larry went to the University of Houston on a football scholarship. Larry majored in English and developed “a love affair with the English Language” that later served him in his songwriting.
On the strength of his songwriting talents, Larry Gatlin became known throughout Nashville music Industry. While Steve and Rudy were finishing college, Larry was already touring the small club and listening room circuit as a solo act, looking forward to the time when he could afford to expand his live show to include his brothers.
It’s been 60 years since Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers have started their career performing. We sat down with Larry to find out more about his upcoming performance at the Franklin Theatre. For tickets to his upcoming performance at the Franklin Theatre, click here.
WS: What can we expect from your performance at the Franklin Theatre?
Larry: I’m really looking forward it. The older I get, the more I appreciate older things that have soul. I’ve played at the Dallas Cowboys stadium but the small intimate setting is something where you can have a conversation with your audience. This will be my first time to play at the Franklin Theatre. I’m looking forward to sharing stories with the audience about my songs and how others have performed them over the years.
WS: You have recently moved back, can you share your favorites things about Williamson County?
Larry: Dotson’s is the place where I can walk in and they know my order before I get to my table. I’m a huge civil war fan. Growing up in Odessa, Texas I would hear stories about General Hood. The countryside is breath taking but the best part is my two grand-daugthers who live right here in Franklin.
WS: Your career has quite a long history, is there one memory that stands out among the rest?
Larry: I don’t think I can share just one. There are so many great things like in 1971 when I first stepped out on the stage at the Ryman, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry, to a performing at a county fair seeing a farmer show up with his wife and 9 kids realizing what a sacrifice he made to get there that evening.
No, I just can’t do it. It’s too unbelievably wonderful. The Gatlin Brothers are members of the Grand Ole Opry. I remember when I walked out on stage of the Ryman in 1971 when we were inducted to of the Grand Ole Opry. There was a time where we played at Carngeie Hall with the New York Pops, singing at the White House, performing on the Will Rogers Follies, the Bob Hope Special, Elvis Presley singing my songs, playing at the Greek theater in Los Angeles, Barbara Streisand singing my songs.
Aside from that, there was a night when we performed at a county fair where a little skinny farmer and his wife showed up with their nine kids. It was a very hot day, it felt like over a 100 degrees. It was during a drought about 30 years which meant his crops were probably burned up. But he cared enough about the Gatlin boys to show up to my show which means just as much to me as those other performances. I’m grateful to God for all the fans.
WS: At times, it seems like the classics of Country Music have been forgotten, what are your thoughts on that?
Larry: It’s a kinda double edge sword, it can go one of two ways, you can think the way we did back then is the way to do it or you can become bitter. But here is the way I look at The brothers and I didn’t do it the way like the Statler Brothers did it, Marty Stuart was different than Marty Robbins. I just believe when your time comes, do your deal the best you can. Right now, it’s Little Big Town and The Band Perry’s turn.
WS: Billy Ray Cyrus released a movie during CMA Fest called “Like A Country Song” where you played a small but powerful role, can you tell us about your part?
Larry: It was kinda a little pivotal part. They even re- wrote it where they said, ” You look like Larry Gatlin”, to which I replied ” I get that all the time.” Billy Ray Cyrus is a great guy. He and Joel Smallbone did a wonderful job. It’s a sweet movie about goodness and redemption. I enjoyed being a part of this movie. Unfortunately, I was on the road when the premiere took place in Nashville.
WS: Tell us about your new program at the Opry beginning this fall in October?
Larry: I am hosting a show called Country Classics on Thursday night. It will be a time for me to perform, introduce other acts. The show will be a combination of classic country entertainers to younger performers that appreciate the classics. I’m looking forward to this series.
Thanks so much to Larry Gatlin for spending time with us, Also, we will be sitting down with Larry’s daughter, Kristin, to discuss her new store, Relek, which just opened in the Factory. Check back on Tuesday for that full interview.