Gatlin Brothers’ purpose: to sing

Rudy says the sibling factor keeps it going.

You won’t likely find March 8, 1955, as a significant date in history books. Check the annals of country music and it marks the beginning of one of its most enduring acts.

That’s when the Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers officially began, when Larry, age 6, Steve, 4, and Rudy, 2-and-a-half, performed on an Abilene, Texas, program “Cavalcade of Talent” and won.

Thirty albums later, the Gatlin Brothers are celebrating their 60th anniversary in show business with fans on an ongoing tour.

The party will stop at the Clark State Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Friday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center and is presented by Clark State.

“Maybe someday it will all come to a screeching halt. For now we’re getting’ after it,” said Rudy Gatlin. “Like Ringo Starr once said, ‘It’s what we do.’ ”

Performing for 60 years is a long time, especially with siblings, and Rudy admits there have been disagreements. As long as there’s music, the rest will take care of itself.

“It just works out,” he said. “There’s a sameness of purpose — to sing. It means a lot to us, and we hope our music has touched some hearts.”

Having been around so long means the Gatlins have seen numerous changes in the business, from vinyl to CDs and digital back to vinyl again. What’s kept the brothers going in part is the sibling factor, Rudy said.

“It’s a show, not just a concert. It’s quite an art form to put a show together,” Rudy said, “and we’ve been blessed this way. Larry has the gift of gab, and there’s always been snappy patter between songs. We cut up, weave in stories, tell jokes and have a good time with our audience.”

How to go

What: Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, Kuss Auditorium, 300 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 24

Admission: $20-60 adults; $25 students; senior citizen and Clark State $10 discount

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.

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