A musical life

September 27, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Larry Gatlin's life is musical.

No, not the kind that's on Broadway ... yet.

Gatlin, like his brothers Rudy and Steve, grew up in a Texas home full of music. As young children, they sang gospel together on radio and TV. As adults, the Gatlin Brothers found success with country music.

In the early 1990s, the Gatlin Brothers decided to stop touring and didn't regularly go on the road again to perform until about 10 years later. Now they'll perform two shows Saturday night at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Chambersburg.

In addition to performing with his brothers again, Larry Gatlin has been working on musicals, either as a performer or writing the music and lyrics.


"I cannot envision a time that I wouldn't want to sing with my brothers. They're my best friends, and I'm their best friend, and we love to do what we do," Larry Gatlin said during a recent phone interview from Nashville.

"There comes a point in time when you need some new mountains to climb," said Gatlin, 59, who lives in Austin, Texas.

One particular mountain got its start when Johnny Cash advised Gatlin and other younger country musicians that when an idea comes, write it.

"You don't edit your thinking right away. If some goofy idea comes, you write that song. Then worry about whether it's good later," Gatlin recalled Cash telling him.

Years later in a big city, watching an old gentleman looking into the window of a menswear store, Gatlin said an idea came to him for a song. His take on the scene was the man was looking at the mannequin, envying its youth and smooth skin.

So Gatlin wrote a song about an old man wishing to be young again and a mannequin staring back, wishing it could get out and be alive. The song became part of a musical story he wrote.

The latest musical Gatlin is involved with is "Look Homeward Honky Tonk Angel," about an older country singer working with his ex-wife. The couple hate each other, but there are comedic and sweet moments, Gatlin said.

The musical will feature songs written by Gatlin, who wrote many of the songs he performed with his brothers. He was still working on changing some lyrics for the musical, which will be performed in October at the Irving (Texas) Arts Center's Dupree Theatre.

Gatlin hopes to get one of the musicals he's involved with to Broadway.

But this Saturday, Gatlin and his brothers will be singing some old favorites for patrons at The Capitol Theatre.

The brothers, who had several hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s, will perform several of those. They will include the best country song at the 1976 Grammys, "Broken Lady," and "I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love," "I Don't Wanna Cry" and "All the Gold in California."

They will sing some new tunes and gospel songs, too, but most of the songs will be ones their fans have heard before, Gatlin said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers

WHEN: 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29

WHERE: The Capitol Theatre, 159 S. Main St., downtown Chambersburg, Pa.

COST: Tickets cost $32 or $36, including a service fee. For tickets, call The Capitol Theatre box office at 717-263-0202 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

MORE: For more information about the Gatlin Brothers, go to

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