LEW DEWITTView Guestbook
Lew DeWitt was born in March of 1938 in the town of Roanoke Virginia.His mother,Rose Ester Hogan from Bedford Virginia,and Father Lewis DeWitt Sr.,of Chek Virginia,were in conflict early on,because Rose came from a musical family,and Lew Sr.,was from more rural in background.Farming and moonshining were more the norm around Chek,but Rose's family were slightly more uptown,and loved music and nightlife.While Rose nurtured the boys intrest in music,by giving him a guitar,and actually teaching him his first few chords,Lew Sr.,was determined to make a hard working farmer out of him.
Once Lew became a teenager,it was clear that Rose's influences had won out,and Lew Sr.,backed down and allowed her to enter him in talent contests,or any other way to get him out into the public eye.
Eventually,the family moved from there home in Roanoke,to the small town of Staunton,Virginia.Lew attended Wilson High School in Fishersville Virginia,where he became friends with Harold Reid.Their mutual intrests eventully motivated them to put together some kind of musical group.
At first,they were joined by Joe McDorman,a mutual friend,and began to sing wherever an audience would lend an ear.School functions,church getherings,and other social events,eventually boosted them into doing larger and larger venues,but Joe decided to bow out and get a real job,so his position was filled by Harolds younger brother Don.The group had been going under the name of "The Kingsmen",until they learned that there was another popular group by the same name.
By now,the group consisted of,Lew,brothers Harold and Don,and friend Phil Balsley.The group was starting to gain momentum,and were eventually noticed by none other than Johnny Cash.They eventually were hired by Cash,to do a huge road show tour,featuring Cash,Carl Perkins,June Carter,and The Carter Family,with The Tennesse Three as the accompanying rythm section.The problem was,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,The group had no name.So,while sitting in a room at The Statler Hotel,waiting for opening night of the tour,They noticed a box of tissues on the night stand."Statler Tissues".So without much said from anybody,the group at that moment became,The Statler Brothers.
Cash was also instrumental in getting the group its first recording contract,with Columbia Records.It was their,that Lew penned the groups first hit song,"Flowers On The Wall",written about a man basically going crazy in a hotel room,counting the flowers on the wallpaper.The group did a second,and a third album with Columbia,the last of which was "Oh Happy Day",a gospel album.The group were doing pretty well at Columbia,but record sells were sloping off,and despite the fact that "Flowers"had won the group a grammy in 65,the company did not renew their contract.
They squeaked by on royalties from Flowers,and the song was even used as a commercial for Beechnut Chewing Gum.They were forced into the situation of making a move quick,or losing their footing,so luckily along came the Johnny Cash TV show.They were a regular for years until the show was cancelled,but in the meantime,they were resigned.This time by Mercury Records,where they changed the style of their music to a more,nostalgic flavor.
During this era in the groups history,the group penned many more huge hit songs,including "Bed Of Roses","The Strand",and "Whatever Happened To Randolph Scott."Lew still strong in the songwriting aspect,was also collaberating with not only the other members of the group,but writing for other artists,and selling the rights for other groups to do remakes of "Flowers On The Wall".The song has been remade in many ways,by many artists,including muzak,and latin versions,complete with the proper language.And,it was part of the soundtrack for the film"Pulp Fiction".It remains to be not only the catalyst that launched the group,but still the biggest,and most easily remembered song the quartet ever recorded.
To hear the mp3: http://www.myspace.com/lewdewitt
The groups popularity reigned on throughout the sixites,seventies,and even right up till the eighties.They ran away with every CMA award you can imagine for over a decade,while being on the road about half the year.The group became very popular in Europe,Japan,New Zealand,and Australia.The group has played venues in all of these countries,and still managed to squeeze in show dates at The White House,for three different Presidents.
The Statlers were also responsible for starting,"Happy Birthday USA",in our little hometown of Staunton.Every Fourth of July,The Statlers and a special guest,would throw a concert at the local baseball park.Guests appearences included,Johnny Cash,Bill Anderson,Ronnie Milsap,Tammy Wynette,and The Mandrells,just to name a few.
In 1983,Lew was forced to leave the group because of a hereditary medical condition known as Chrohns Disease.After several surgeries,Lew came out of retirement,and as a warm up,hired sons Denver,and Brian to form a group and help get Lew back in the swing of things slowly.They hit the road with a small stage crew,a three piece band,and a suburban carrying a small PA system,and all the groups gear.
Once fully recovered from the surgery,Lew hired"The Star City Band",and began full on touring again.He aquired a tour bus,and hired a larger crew,and played many concert venues around the country,including Nashvilles "Fan Fare".Lew did two solo albums,"Here To Stay",and "On My Own",and despite all the setbacks,had made a respectable comeback in a very short time.But,in 1990,the Chrons condition,resurfaced,and he was forced to retire.Lew passed away in August of 1990.