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April 24, 2014

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Music:

Gatlin, with brothers, back where career started

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Larry Gatlin - Help Me

If You Go

  • Who: Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
  • When: 8 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Club Madrid at Sunset Station
  • Tickets: $27.50 to $47.50; 547-7970

Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers have decided to come out of semiretirement and rejoin the working world.

“We decided to go back on the road because we got used to eating three meals a day and sleeping indoors,” Larry Gatlin says from his home in Austin, Texas. “Just kidding — but it is part of it. That’s how we make our living. We didn’t take really good care of the money we made; that’s the bad news. The good news is we really love to sing music for people.”

They will perform Friday at Sunset Station.

Larry Gatlin’s musical career took root in Las Vegas more than 35 years ago when he flew into town to audition for a part that he didn’t get.

“I was in law school in Houston at the time,” Gatlin, 62, says. “I flew in from there to audition for the gospel group the Imperials.”

At the time, the Imperials were singing backup for Elvis Presley at the Las Vegas Hilton and were about to move across the street to the Landmark to back Jimmy Dean in his “Las Vegas Revue.”

While here for the failed audition he met country music star Dottie West.

“We struck up a friendship and I wrote a few songs and sent them to her in Nashville. She sent me a plane ticket and I moved to Nashville,” Gatlin says. West recorded two of his songs, “You’re the Other Half of Me” and “Once You Were Mine.”

After a couple of years as a solo act, Gatlin was joined by his brothers, Rudy and Steve.

“We started out in the little rooms,” Gatlin says. “We were in the lounge at the Hilton when Johnny Cash was in the main room. He got us the gig.

“We worked our way into the Desert Inn, the Golden Nugget, the Riviera, Caesars Palace. We worked some great rooms.”

During the mid-’70s through the ’80s, the Gatlin Brothers became one of the most recognized groups in the business with more than 15 Top 10 hits, including “Love Is Just a Game,” “All the Gold in California” and “Houston Means (I’m One Day Closer to You).”

They quit the road in 1992. Their final studio album was “Adios.”

Gatlin wasn’t idle when he retired. He performed in “The Will Rogers Follies” on Broadway and did some public speaking.

“We didn’t tour for about 10 years and then six or seven years ago we started going out on weekends doing a few things,” Gatlin says. “But that doesn’t really work very well. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. Logistically, it’s difficult to work two days a week, with the airplanes and rental cars.”

They were doing about 50 dates a year until a couple of years ago when they landed a contract with Curb Records in Nashville. After 17 years without a record deal, the Gatlins will release a new album, “The Pilgrimage,” this summer.

“My first album was ‘The Pilgrim,’ and Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for it,” Gatlin says. “His son, John Cash, wrote the liner notes for this one.”

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