Eight years after the world famous Country Quartet group, The Statler Brothers parked the bus and retired for good, former member Jimmy Fortune is still finding success as a solo artist with his recent Christian Country national number one hit, “In God We Trust”.
The number one single, from Jimmy’s fourth solo project Windows, was released to radio in August of this year by leading Christian and Gospel promotional company, Double E Promotions and has climbed all the way to the top of the national Christian Voice Christian Country Top 100 Chart for December of 2010. This is Jimmy’s second national number one as a solo artist. In fact his song “Wrote It In Red” from his first Gospel album, I Believe reached the number one position on the national Christian Voice Christian Country Top 100 Chart for December of 2009.
If your familiar with the Statler Brother’s tunes, than you may know that fortune is no stranger to chart topping hits, as a Statler Brother, he penned the groups number one singles, “Elizabeth,” from their 1983 album, Today, “My Only Love“, from their 1984 release, Atlanta Blue and “Too Much On My Heart” from their 1985 release, Pardners in Rhyme. Fortune also wrote the top-10 hit “Forever” from their 1986 album Four for the Show and co-wrote the top-10 hit “More Than a Name on the Wall” from the group’s 1988 release, The Greatest Hits.
Jimmy has been commonly refered to as “The little guy on the end” and is widely regarded as the greatest tenor in country music. He sang tenor for the Statler Brothers for 21 years, joining them as a replacement for the ailing Lew DeWitt in the year 1982. He became a full time member when DeWitt was unable to return to the stage due to Crohn's Disease.
Rounding out the group was Harold Reid, Phil Balsley and Don Reid. The Statler’s were the premier group in country music for nearly forty years. Entering the business in 1964 as the backup voices for Johnny Cash on stage, record and TV, they served their apprenticeship with him for 8 1/2 years. During that time they recorded their first hit record, “Flowers on the Wall“, and were regulars on the weekly Johnny Cash Show on ABC TV.
Leaving the Cash troupe in 1972, they continued with such hit records as “Bed of Rose's“, “Class of '57” and “I'll Go to My Grave Loving You“. Their original harmonies, sense of humor and lyrical style of writing highlighted a career that led them to the top of the music charts countless times and to a concert touring success that packed arenas and theaters with every performance. Their award winning (Grammies, CMA's, Gold and Platinum records and etc) is legendary and they are considered to be the most honored of any act in the country music field.
The 90s saw them starring in their own television series, The Statler Brothers Show, on TNN, The Nashville Network for seven years and remaining the number one show on the network its entire run. Deciding to retire from a lifetime of traveling and enjoy the good life in their, they gave their farewell concert in the fall of 2002.
Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the CMA (Country Music Association) Hall of Fame in June 29, 2008. The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville honored the Statler Brothers with a special exhibit on June 3, 2010. The 30-foot glass encasement consists of such Statler memorabilia as their first sound system; the red, white and blue microphones from their concert tours; original song scripts; the orange paint encrusted guitar from the film Smokey and the Bandit II; a box of Statler tissues; stage suits; lots of pictures and even the Roadhog outfit.
After the group’s retirement, Jimmy launched his solo career with the release of his first album, When One Door Closes, in August 2003 on Audium/Koch. He then released a gospel album, I Believe, in June 2005, a Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas, in 2006, a live concert DVD in 2007 and another country CD, Windows in 2009.
Story by Corey Frizzell