Ten Acts Who Belong in the Country Hall of Fame: Wilburn Brothers (#1)
By Four Walls
May 6, 2016 7:31pm CST
My final entry in my look at the acts who I feel have been shunned by the Country Music Hall of Fame for far too long. This act is at the top of the list because they have been ignored due to old grudges, and it's high time that stopped. #1: The Wilburn Brothers Back in the three-channel days, as my late, lamented comedian friend Tim Wilson used to say, getting to see country music (heck, any music) on TV was a treat. That was generally relegated to the occasional country guest on Andy Williams and Perry Como Christmas specials (oy); or, if you lived in the right part of the country, syndicated country music shows. The Wilburn Brothers were pioneers in that regard. Beginning in 1963, brothers Teddy and Doyle hosted a widely syndicated show that featured them, a slew of country music superstars, and a young up-and-coming "girl singer" by the name of Loretta Lynn. It is no stretch to say that the exposure that Lynn received by appearing on the Wilburn Brothers' TV show every week helped propel her to superstardom. That wasn't all there was to the Wilburns, though. They had a long stretch of hits that began in the mid-50s and stretched to the mid-70s, when they disbanded. How popular were they? Although the "classic version" of that great murder ballad, "Knoxville Girl," is widely regarded as being by the Louvin Brothers, it was actually the highly edited version by the Wilburn Brothers that peaked higher on the Billboard chart! (And, in one of those great comedic moments, one night after they sang their shortened version of the song on their TV show, Doyle commented that "You could put that song on one side of a long-playing record album," to which Teddy added, "Yeah, and have 'Barbara Allen' on the other side!" ) Their hits included "Roll, Muddy River" (which later became a bluegrass favorite thanks to the Osborne Brothers), "Making Plans," and their "signature" song, "Trouble's Back in Town." Their other major contribution to country music is their publishing company. They founded Sure-Fire Publishing in 1957 to handle their own songs. Many young songwriters signed with them, as they were a "family" business instead of a "big corporation" such as Tree (now Sony-Tree). Loretta Lynn was one of those acts. And that's where the grudges come in, the old, deep wounds that, to me, are holding the Wilburns out of the Hall of Fame. Shortly after Teddy's death in 2003 Lynn sued Sure-Fire (not the first time she had, mind you) to get the rights to the songs that were licensed through that publishing company. The Wilburn Brothers were tough businessmen (I joke that they were S.O.B.s, and that does not mean "Southern Ohio Businessmen"! ), and they would not let Lynn out of her contract back in the 70s. As a result, there's nary a mention of the Wilburns in her legendary autobiography Coal Miner's Daughter, despite the close association the two acts had at one time. Look, CMA. Doyle's dead. Teddy's dead. The only people you're weighing down by carrying these decades-old grudges are yourselves. Meanwhile, you're depriving the fans of seeing these deserving brothers take their place in the rotunda of the Hall of Fame. Get over it, and induct them. Now. Wilburn Brothers Doyle (Virgil Doyle Wilburn): Born July 7, 1930, Hardy, Arkansas Died October 16, 1982, Nashville, Tennessee (lung cancer) Teddy (Thurman Theodore Wilburn): Born November 30, 1931, Hardy, Arkansas Died November 24, 2003, Nashville, Tennessee (congestive heart failure) Claim to fame: close-harmony brother duet, songwriters, music TV pioneers, music publishers Best work: Not That I Care I've Got That Old-Time Religion in My Heart Roll Muddy River Someone Before Me Here's their big hit, "Trouble's Back in Town"
2 people like this
• Los Angeles, California
7 May 16
I had to quiz my mother because I thought didn't I see Teddy Wilburn in person someplace? Yes. Way back in 1972, the ACM's were down at Knott's Berry Farm and my family went down there. Ronstadt was nominated. Wilburn must have been a presenter or something. I saw the man but have no recollection.