Uniting the USA

The Gatlin Brothers and Lee Greenwood are no strangers to Laughlin. They’ve both performed here many times. Greenwood is usually here around Veterans’ Day, because of that one little song. And the Gatlins show up when the weather is good to squeeze in a little golf. But this is the first time Larry, Steve and Rudy join forces with Greenwood for a show here filled with their mountains of individual hits on Friday, Oct. 18 in the Edgewater’s E Center (8 p.m.).
All of them have been friends for years and each can pack in audiences on the merits of music they believe in.
“Yes, it’s us and Lee Greenfoofer,” Rudy Gatlin, the comedic brother of the trio, told the Laughlin entertainer. “We do a couple days together every now and then. We did one a couple of months ago and we’ve done some through the years — and he’s a great, great American.
But then the Gatlin Brothers are great Americans, too.
Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers are proof that raw talent will keep you working long after the hits have fizzled out. Even though they had a damn good run during the ’70s and ’80s with Larry’s well-crafted hits like “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Denver,” “Houston (Means That I’m One Day Closer To You),” “Midnight Choir (Mogen David),” “I Don’t Want To Cry,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “Broken Lady,” “All the Gold (In California)”, “Take Me To Your Lovin’ Place” and more, artists hit that bump where the industry loses faith in them long before the fans do. So the Gatlins do what they’ve always done — give the fans exactly what they want — music that continues to stand the test of time more than 60 years later.
Larry, Steve and Rudy continue to deliver stories, songs, laughs and a show that keeps audiences wondering just what they’ll do next.
Their songs come from the heart — they tell stories as well as create moods, sometimes people are moved by their songs, sometimes they’ve raised an eyebrow or two, some have been down-right controversial, but that’s the beauty of these guys. They take everything life deals them as a blessing and a reminder that they continue to accomplish more than they ever thought they would and they still find the time to stop the bus and play a little bit of golf along the way.
Larry loves writing his own songs and singing with his brothers. He’d learned a little something early in life about the power of his voice magnified by sibling harmonies that couldn’t be duplicated by just any other singers. Together, they’ve earned just about every industry award along the way, including Grammys, as a result.
The guys have performed for American troops all over the globe, and a few years ago, Larry wrote a patriotic song, too, “Americans, That’s Who.” The song never made it to radio, but audiences love the song for the pure power of its message anywhere it’s performed.
Greenwood also knows the power of how much patriotism means to Americans.
Ever since he began his career 35 some years ago, he has united this country more than just about anybody else with one song — “God Bless the U.S.A.”
It was in the Top 5 music charts three times (1991, 2001 and 2003) — the only song in any genre to do that.
It not only became a second National Anthem, it brought Americans together on their darkest days, lifted the spirits of military men and women serving on foreign soil and it continues to illustrate what it means to be a proud American. The song also has opened Greenwood up to many opportunities to travel the world and serve his country in a unique way, bridging political differences, and doing more for veterans than just performing for them.
However, there is so much more to the unassuming artist’s career than the one song.
His distinctive voice and creative songwriting skills have allowed Greenwood to create a stage show that has weathered the ups and downs of the musical landscape. And his love of a variety of musical styles hasn’t hurt his cultivation of a wide fan base. He can deliver jazz, R&B and country with equal ease, beyond his “God Bless…” anthem.
His career includes 32-charted singles, two platinum albums and four gold albums among the 22 studio albums he’s recorded altogether. His hits include “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “It Turns Me Inside Out,” “Ring On Her Finger Time on Her Hand,” “Going, Going, Gone,” “Dixie Road,” “I Don’t Mind the Thorns (If You’re the Rose),” “Don’t Underestimate My Love For You,” “Hearts Aren’t Made to Break,” “Mornin’ Ride,” and more.
Greenwood also has won Grammys and many industry awards.
In 1983, he released “God Bless the U.S.A.” which did fine. But it really hit the roof during the Gulf War of 1990-91, receiving many industry awards, including Music City News’ Award for “Song of the Year” and CMA “Song of the Year” songwriting honors. Greenwood also has received the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s National Patriots Award and he’s entertained troops during more than 30 USO tours.
“I embrace that we released the American Patriot album while I was at Liberty Records, which was after 9/11 and it was the one CD that outsold all my rest,” Greenwood told us. “But saying that, when we came to Nashville it was like anybody else. We became the hit-maker for 15 years and then we settled back into performing which is what I cut my teeth on.
“When I get to that point in our show, it is a high point. And it is something I enjoy doing…uniting America…and I’ve done that now since the release of ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ which was in 1983,” he said. “I’ve been given the opportunity to be a uniter, to be an American who people look up to as a role model.”
So with the team of Gatlins and Greenwood on stage, patriotism won’t be in short supply.
“I guess that would be a correct assumption, that they’re going to get a patriotic show,” Gatlin said. “We’re certainly not going to be bashing the good ol’ U.S. of A., that’s for sure, like some people. Good gosh, and it’s not going to be overdone, it’s just his ‘God Bless the U.S.A., and our song, ‘America, That’s Who.’
“The show will be entertaining,” he added. “We’ll do the hits, and the misses, cut up and have a good time. He’ll do all his hits — but yeah, there will be a little patriotic flair.”
Will the Gatlins and Greenwood perform anything together?
“Well, it was going to be a surprise,” he said. “He’s going on first and then he’s gotta cut out, But we’ll do ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ with him, but do you know why we’ll do ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ with him? ‘Cause we sang on the original record.
“I think it was 1983, and our good friend Jerry Crutchfield, who produced that record for Lee, called us and said, ‘We want y’all to come and sing on Greenwood’s song,’ and we said, ‘sure,'” Gatlin explained. “Now Lee has re-recorded it a couple of times and even Steve and I went and sang some harmonies on the fourth and fifth recording, but the original recording — it was LSR (Larry, Steve, Rudy), thank you very much.”
The guys have become the country music heroes of this generation not just because of all the hit songs, but because of the longevity, maintaining a career for more than 60 years. Will artists now ever reach that status, considering there are so many of them?
“Well we were in that category of never being heard of years ago,” Gatlin said. “But it was when your records were played on radio. Then after you had a couple of hit records, and if you had a real good agent, like Marty Klein in L.A., who could go to Fred de Cordova at the time, producer of the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and say “I want these guys on the show.” Once we went on the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” did a great performance, and Larry and Johnny hit it off on the couch — wait a minute, that didn’t sound right — well you gotta do what you’ve gotta do. That was huge. Carson came on at 11 p.m., then after the monologue and a few commercials and maybe a guest, they had the musical act or the comedy act. Guess what? You were the only music act on TV. There wasn’t another entertainment show on TV. That was it.
“Now, the internet is great, I love the internet, I love technology, good gosh, I use it every day,” he said. “But with that, you get a influx of everybody’s a country singer, everybody’s a songwriter, you can all have a record deal, you can be your own record company. Now you can get your own deal, your own website, you can sell it online, you can give it away, you can do whatever you want to.
“I’m happy for all these young kids who get their chance and if they’re really good, they will surface. I hope and pray the cream will still rise to the top. If you’re a good singer with good songs, making good records, you’re gonna get noticed whether you win a talent show on TV or not.
“We had some great records because it started with a great song,” he said. “Don’t just make records like everybody else. That’s what’s great about making records, it’s the greatest process in the world.”
“But we love to perform and we’re gonna love to perform for all those children of God out in Laughlin, Nevada. We love to sing for the friends and neighbors, cutting up and having a great time and then going to the buffet. It’s good to be going back to Laughlin.”


LEE GREENWOOD & THE GATLIN BROTHERS

E Center at the Edgewater

Friday, Oct. 18 (8 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info