Thank you world for contributing founding Statler Brother Lew DeWitt

The Statler Brothers and June Carter Cash wait to go onstage as part of the Johnny Cash show at Folsom Prison in 1968.
The Statler Brothers and June Carter Cash wait to go onstage as part of the Johnny Cash show at Folsom Prison in 1968.
Clockwise from top left finds Statler Brothers bass vocalist-songwriter Harold Reid adjusting his long black socks, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters comedienne June Carter Cash, baritonist Phil Balsley, lead singer-songwriter Don Reid, and sunglasses-clad, tenor-guitarist-songwriter Lew DeWitt combating pre-show jitters in a makeshift backstage area — actually a kitchen — minutes before debuting with Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968, in Folsom, California. The subsequent live album climbed to number one country and crossed over to the pop charts for a staggering 123 weeks at No. 13. Photography by Jim Marshall / All About the Statlers [Facebook group]

The Jimmy Fortune Interview, Part Two

A Hofner electric guitar-wielding Lew DeWitt is a classy tuxedo-clad singer-songwriter in this mid-1960s promotional still.
A Hofner electric guitar-wielding Lew DeWitt is a classy tuxedo-clad singer-songwriter in this mid-1960s promotional still.
A Hofner electric guitar-wielding Lew DeWitt is a classy tuxedo-clad singer-songwriter in this mid-1960s promotional still. During the swingin’ sixties DeWitt contributed the Statler Brothers’ best tune — “Flowers on the Wall” — as well as “I’m the Boy” and obscure B-sides “Is That What You’d Have Me Do” and “Do You Love Me Tonight.” After “Flowers” became a Top Five pop single, Columbia never quite knew how to market the quartet. Fortunately, Mercury Records and producer-guitarist Jerry Kennedy had no such quandary at the dawn of the 1970s with “Bed of Rose’s,” “I’ll Go to My Grave Loving You,” and a plethora of other hits. Image Credit: All About the Statlers [Facebook group]
Cool cats, indeed: Statler Brothers baritone Phil Balsley, a partially obscured Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Lew DeWitt.
Cool cats, indeed: Statler Brothers baritone Phil Balsley, a partially obscured Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Lew DeWitt.
Cool cats, indeed: Statler Brothers baritone Phil Balsley, a partially obscured Johnny Cash, Carl “Blue Suede Shoes” Perkins, and tenor-electric guitarist Lew DeWitt rehearse at the Hotel El Rancho in Sacramento, California, on either January 11 or 12, 1968, a couple of days before the career-affirming “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” 16-track record. Perkins first joined the Man in Black’s band in January 1966 at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, concert when his career was at a low ebb — alcohol exacerbated the situation — and remained a vital acknowledgement of Sun Records’ timeless rockabilly until bidding adieu to Cash in 1974 to resume his solo career. Photography by Jim Marshall / The Denver DeWitt Collection / The Official Lew DeWitt Facebook Fan Page
Statler Brothers spend a day with Jackie Gleason, Snuff Garrett and director Hal Needham on “Smokey and the Bandit II,” 1980
Statler Brothers spend a day with Jackie Gleason, Snuff Garrett and director Hal Needham on “Smokey and the Bandit II,” 1980
The Statler Brothers spend a day with the Great One, Jackie Gleason: Standing left to right are music producer Snuff Garrett, bassist Harold Reid, baritonist Phil Balsley, stuntman-director Hal Needham, tenor-guitarist Lew DeWitt, and lead singer-songwriter Don Reid during the shooting of “Smokey and the Bandit 2,” ultimately issued on August 15, 1980, by Universal Pictures to robust box office receipts. The country-gospel quartet provided two soundtrack contributions — “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine” and “Charlotte’s Web.” The former number was sung on-camera during a scene where an airplane dumped bright orange paint all over them! Image Credit: The Statler Brothers Archives
Presenting Statler Brothers altar-egos Lester “Roadhog” Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys circa 1974.
Presenting Statler Brothers altar-egos Lester “Roadhog” Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys circa 1974.
Presenting Statler Brothers altar-egos Lester “Roadhog” Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys circa 1974. Left to right are banjoist Henry “Red” Vines [Phil Balsley], doghouse bassist Wesley W. Rexrode [Don Reid], fiddle player-emcee Lester [Harold Reid], and doing the best he can on electric guitar — Ray “Wichita” Ramsey [Lew DeWitt]. According to Don in a 2015 interview with Billboard, “We had done an album in 1972 called ‘Country Music — Then And Now’ [No. 7 C&W]. One side was ‘then’ and the other was ‘now.’ We did some old songs on the ‘then’ side, as well as this nine-minute comedy routine that we had written about the old local radio shows we would be listening to while growing up. We created these characters. We had no idea that it was going to take off like it did. It became so popular that Mercury came to us and asked for an entire album. So we wrote ‘Alive at the Johnny Mack Brown High School’ [1974]. It took off and still lives on…” Image Credit: The Statler Brothers Archives
Struggling musician Lew DeWitt and first wife Glenda Kay Simmers opt for a bohemian, T-shirt-endorsing lifestyle.
Struggling musician Lew DeWitt and first wife Glenda Kay Simmers opt for a bohemian, T-shirt-endorsing lifestyle.
Struggling musician Lew DeWitt and Glenda Kay Simmers pose inside her mother Kathleen’s home circa 1960 in Waynesboro, Virginia. Married from 1961 to 1973, the constant companions had four children together — Denver, Donna, Brian, and Shannon. Notice the dirty socks, brown loafer, Army helmet, and empty Maxwell House cardboard box. Blame it on Glenda Kay‘s messy little brother Dennis Wayne! Image Credit: The Glenda Kay DeWitt Collection / The Official Lew DeWitt Facebook Fan Page
Bassist Harold Reid, baritonist Phil Balsley, tenor Jimmy Fortune, and lead singer Don Reid are the revamped Statler Brothers
Bassist Harold Reid, baritonist Phil Balsley, tenor Jimmy Fortune, and lead singer Don Reid are the revamped Statler Brothers
Clockwise from top left: Bassist Harold Reid, baritonist Phil Balsley, tenor Jimmy Fortune, and lead singer Don Reid are the revamped lineup of the Statler Brothers in this circa 1983 promotional still. Right out of the gate Fortune wrote a number one song for the harmony-laden quartet honoring one of the highest earning female actresses of the 20th century — “Elizabeth” — i.e. Elizabeth Taylor. Fun fact: the Statlers’ debut and very last hit singles involved walls — “Flowers on the Wall” and Fortune’s Vietnam War-remembering “More Than a Name on a Wall.” Image Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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