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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wilburn brothers to be honored

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hardy natives, Doyle and Teddy Wilburn, will be inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Nov. 15, in Hot Springs.

Doyle and Teddy Wilburn were the youngest of five siblings. Benjamin Wilburn, the children's father was a disabled World War I veteran who found it hard to provide for his family. In hopes the children could help the family's financial situation, Benjamin purchased a guitar, mandolin and fiddle from a Sears Robuck catalog, CMT said.

The Wilburn Family's career started on a street corner in Thayer, Mo., on Christmas Eve 1937.

The Wilburn Family toured several states performing their talent. While visiting Birmingham, Ala., in 1940 the group was recommended by Roy Acuff to be invited to the Grand Ole' Opry. After only six months with the Opry, the child labor organization pressured the Opry to terminate the group's contract.

In 1948 they were cast in the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show, CMT said. Doyle and Teddy were drafted for the Korean War in 1951. The brothers returned home finding their other siblings had all retired from the tour.

Despite the loss of their band members Doyle and Teddy went on with the show. Webb Pierce, whom the brothers had met on the set of the "Louisiana Hayride," was now an accomplished entertainer. CMT said. The Wilburn Brothers sang back up in Pierce's "In the Jailhouse Now," which was an instant success.

The brothers made appearances on shows like "The Arthur Godfrey Talent Show" and "American Bandstand." In 1954 The Wilburn Brothers had their first hit, "Sparklin Brown Eyes." From 1954 to 1972 the duet had 30 chart hits, with their biggest single in 1966, "Hurt Her Once For Me."

Their music hits weren't the only thing in the country music world the men were known for. During the 1950s they founded the Wil-Helm Talent Agency, with steel guitarist Don Helms. The brothers also sought their older brothers and former band mates Lester and Leslie Wilburn to run a music publishing house called Sunfire.

With the businesses, the men helped launch the careers of artists like, Sonny James, Jean Shepherd, The Osborne Brothers and Loretta Lynn. Lynn toured with the brothers and later landed a recording deal with Decca.

"The Wilburn Show" was put on the air in 1963, being one of the first country music shows to run in color television. The show featured talent acts such as The Oak Ridge Boys, Tammy Wynette and Barbara Mandrell. "The Wilburn Brothers Show" lasted 11 years, ending in 1974.

In 1967 The Wilburn Brothers were named the duet of the year in the Music City News Awards. They were also nominated for vocal group of the year honors by the Country Music Association in 1972.

The brothers recorded their final Decca LP, "Sing Hinson and Gaither," in 1978. Four years later, Oct. 16, 1982, Doyle lost his fight with cancer. "It was like a 45-year marriage had ended," Teddy said of losing his brother and partner. "There was a lot of adjusting to do."

Teddy continued his music career as a solo artist remaining a member of the Grand Ole' Opry until his death, Nov. 24, 2003.

The city of Hardy held their second annual tribute to the Wilburn Brothers May 24. The city renamed a street after the duet, the Wilburn Brothers Memorial Boulevard.

The two tributes Hardy has held was attended by Don Helms who passed away Aug. 11.

The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Induction is scheduled for Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held in Horner Hall at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Tickets are $60 each and will be available at a later date from the Hot Springs Convention Center. For more information concerning this event call 501-321-2027.

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