Born to an oil field worker on 2 May 1948 in Seminole, Texas, Larry Wayne Gatlin is a performing artist whose four-decade singing career has taken him from the dusty back roads and stages of Texas to the glittering red-carpeted theaters of Broadway. Raised listening to country and gospel music, Larry Gatlin and his two younger brothers Steve and Rudy, often sang in their hometown in Abilene as a family trio at family events, church socials and made occasional performances on local TV and radio. The Gatlin brothers also recorded an album of Gospel melodies for the Sword & Shield label.
After graduating in 1966 from Odessa High School, where he was a star football player, Larry Gatlin enrolled at the University of Houston on a football scholarship. While there, he successfully auditioned with the Imperials, a Gospel music group. While performing with the group at “Jimmy Dean’s Las Vegas Revue” in 1971, Larry caught the attention of famous country singer, Dottie West, who cut a number of Larry’s compositions that included “Broken Lady,” which subsequently became a hit. Relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, he worked as one of Kris Kristofferson’s backsup singers and eventually, was able to cut several successful solo records under Monument Records that included his first country hit, “Sweet Becky Walker.” He later became a part of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest running weekly country music program.
For his composition, “Broken Lady,” Larry Gatlin won the Grammy Award in 1977 for Best Country Song and was voted two years later by the Academy of Country Music as “Top Male Vocalist of the Year.” Larry also made a mark in music history for his hit songs cut with the Gatlin Brothers under Columbia Records such as “All the Gold in California” in 1979 and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” in 1983. After ten years of singing together as a group, the Gatlin Brothers embarked on a successful farewell tour and finally retired in 1991.
Larry Gatlin went on to star in Broadway’s “The Will Rogers Folies” and published his book, entitled “All the Gold in California” in 1998. In between his busy schedule, Larry’s patriotic heart moved him to join USO tours to entertain American troops deployed overseas. Spending four successive Christmas holidays away from home, Larry flew to Somalia, Japan, and Bosnia to cheer up U.S. servicemen and was the first American performer to visit and entertain troops in Haiti in 1994 under the auspices of USO.