Harold Reid (L) of The Statler Brothers
Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns
Harold Reid, Founding Member Of And Singer For GRAMMY-Winning Country Group The Statler Brothers, Dies At 80
Harold Reid, a founding member of and singer for the three-time GRAMMY-winning country quartet and vocal group The Statler Brothers, has died following a long battle with kidney failure. He was 80.
Rolling Stone reports Reid died in his home in Staunton, Va., Friday (April 24) evening, as confirmed by Jimmy Fortune, a member of the group.
The band confirmed the news of Reid's passing in a post shared on The Statler Brothers' official website, which reads, in part, "[Reid] is and will always be loved by his family, friends and millions of fans. His singing, his songwriting and his comedy made generations happy. He has taken a piece of our hearts with him."
Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, shared a touching message about Reid's passing on behalf of the organization.
"As a talented singer/songwriter, Harold Reid helped drive the legendary Statler Brothers to success in the '60s and '70s. His impact on country music has and will continue to shape the music we listen to today. Harold's influence will live on in our community and he will be missed dearly by those whose lives he touched through his music."
Born in Augusta County, Va., in 1939, Reid founded The Statler Brothers alongside original lead singer Joe McDorman, baritone singer Phil Balsley and original tenor singer and guitarist Lew DeWitt; Reid's younger brother, Don Reid, replaced McDorman as lead singer in 1962. Formed in 1955, the group originally began as a local gospel act known as The Four Star Quartet before changing their name to The Kingsmen; in 1963, they settled on the name The Statler Brothers, taking the moniker from a brand of facial tissue.
In 1964, The Statler Brothers began singing backup for Johnny Cash, who discovered and mentored the group. After nearly 10 years supporting and opening for Cash, the group parted ways with The Man In Black in 1972 to pursue their own career as a band. They commemorated their run with Cash in the song "We Got Paid By Cash."
Throughout their decades-long career, The Statler Brothers released nearly 40 studio albums and multiple chart-topping, GRAMMY-winning singles. The group first broke into the mainstream via their 1965 single "Flowers On The Wall," the title track off their 1966 debut album. In addition to notching the group's first-ever GRAMMY win, for Best Contemporary (R&R) Performance - Group (Vocal Or Instrumental), in 1966, the track reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart in the U.S. (They also won the GRAMMY for Best New Country & Western Artist in 1966.)
The group would ultimately produce four No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart: "Do You Know You Are My Sunshine" (1978), "Elizabeth" (1983), "My Only Love" (1984) and "Too Much On My Heart" (1985). Their 1985 album, Pardners In Rhyme, topped the Top Country Albums chart.
The Statler Brothers won their last GRAMMY in 1973 when their 1972 single "The Class of '57," off their album Country Music Then And Now, won for Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.
In addition to their music, the group hosted "The Statler Brothers Show," a weekly variety TV series that ran on The Nashville Network throughout the '90s. Led by the late Harold Reid, the group also expanded into comedy, releasing the 1974 parody album Alive At The Johnny Mack Brown High School as Lester "Roadhog" Moran And The Cadillac Cowboys.
After retiring in 2002, The Statler Brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2008, according to Rolling Stone.