NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – The Statler Brothers, who enjoyed a four-decade run as one of the most successful groups in country music, have been named Virginians of the Year by the state’s press association.

For years, the Statlers said “thank you” to their hometown by giving free Fourth of July concerts in Staunton.

“It wasn’t always easy living in a small town in Virginia,” Don Reid said at Friday night’s awards ceremony.

“But we were always glad we did it that way because if we hadn’t, we might not be here tonight, and if we hadn’t, not all our children would be Virginia-born, Virginia-reared and Virginia-educated, and that was important to us.”

The quartet consists of Reid and his brother Harold, Phil Balsey and Jimmy Fortune, who joined the group in the early 1980s after original member Lew DeWitt quit because of failing health. DeWitt died in 1990.

The group won three Grammy Awards and dozens of other country music accolades during a career that began as the opening act for Johnny Cash and ended with their retirement in 2002. They also hosted a musical-variety show, “The Statler Brothers Show,” on The Nashville Network for seven years in the ’90s.


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