Harold Reid, a baritone who rose to fame as founding member of the country and gospel harmony group The Statler Brothers, died on Friday at the age of 80.
Reid’s nephew Langdon Reid confirmed Harold Reid’s passing to the Staunton News-Leader, and a spokesperson for the group posted a statement to the band’s website noting that Reid died after a long battle with kidney failure.
“He 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,” the statement said.
The group that would later become the Statler Brothers formed in 1955 got their start performing gospel music for local churches as the The Four Star Quartet and later the Kingsman, but later renamed themselves as the Statler Brothers after another band named The Kingsman scored a major hit with Louie Louie in 1963.
According to a 1997 biography of the group by Irwin Stamler & Grelund Landon, the Statler Brothers name came not from any fraternal relationship within the band but a brand of facial tissue they spotted in a hotel room while casting about for a name.
In fact, the only actual brothers in the group were Harold Reid and his younger brother Don Reid, who sang lead vocals.
In 1964, the Statlers began an eight-year run backing country music legend Johnny Cash but they went on to a recording career of their own with their 1966 debut “Flowers on the Wall” which peaked at #10 on the Billboard Country Chart. The album included some of their most memorable hits, including a recast of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and “Flowers on the Wall.”
The Statlers continued to record and tour successfully through the 1970s and 1980s, gaining a reputation for their live performances which incorporated elements of comedy in addition to music.
They scored #1 hits on the Country Charts on four separate occasions during this period, including “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine?” in 1978; “Elizabeth” in 1984; and in 1985, “My Only Love” and “Too Much on My Heart”
The Statlers announced a farewell tour in 2001 that wrapped with a final performance at Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia on October 26, 2002.
After retirement, the Reid Brothers collaborated to write ” Random Memories” a history of the band they released in 2008.
The Statlers won numerous accolades during their long career, including being named Vocal Group of the Year on nine separate occasions by the Country Music Association. They also earned three Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Statlers performing their hit “Bed of Roses” in 1971
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