Country singer Harold Reid a member of the legendary country group, The Statler Brothers, died Friday after a kidney failure battle in his hometown of Staunton, Virginia. He was 80 years old.

“He is and will always be loved by his family, friends and millions of fans,” the band released a statement on their website. “His singing, his songwriting, and his comedy made generations happy. He has taken a piece of our hearts with him.”

Harold Reid, born on August 21, 1939, in Augusta Country, Virginia, sang bass for the Grammy-winning country group. He was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He was a comedian too.

“He leaves a large and loving family and millions of fans who remember his stage and TV antics with smiles and cherish his music that will live with the ages,” his nephew Debo Reid said in a statement.

The Statler Brothers

Harold Reid was a founding member of the singing group, The Statler Brothers. In 1948 Reid, along with his three childhood friends, Phil Balsley, Lew DeWitt, and Joe McDorman, created the Four-Star Quartet. However, McDorman left the group due to health problems and was replaced by Don Reid, Harold’s younger brother. They began singing seriously in 1957, mostly gospel music. 

The group was eventually known as the Kingsmen until 1963 when another group, who also goes by the name Kingsmen, became stars with their hit single Louie, Louie. They gradually evolved into The Statler Brothers.

The group picked its working name on a whim out of a box of Statler facial tissues. “We could just as easily be known as the Kleenex Brothers,” Harold told People. The quartet performed backup for Johny Cash, and they frequently traveled with him starting in 1964. They also got featured on his TV variety program, Johny Cash Show.

Later on, they were pressed to record commercially. Their first single was “Flowers on the Wall,” which led them into a national act. In 1970, they released the hit-song “Bed of Roses” which began their eight-year string of solid country singles which includes “Carry Me Back,” “I’ll Go to My Grave Loving You” and “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine.”

Harold Reid penned “Bed of Roses” and also co-wrote “The Class of ’57” with his younger brother and bandmate, Don Reid. The group has been highly recognized too. They have won the Country Music Association’s coveted Best Vocal Group award for six straight years. 

The Statler Brothers won four out of five Grammy Awards nominations too. They’ve won Grammy New Country and Western Artist in 1966 while their four other awards were for their hit single “Flowers on the Wall.”

All through their entire career, much of The Statler Brothers’ appeal came from the comedy and parody they incorporated into their musical act. In fact, the band was frequently nominated for awards for their comedy, in addition to their singing. They recorded two comedy albums like “Lester “Roadhog” Moran” and “The Cadillac Cowboys” – thanks to Harold Reid’s humorous talent.

After their series of radio hits came to an end, The Statler Brothers headlined the highly-rated variety series in TNN from 1991 to 1997. For more than thirty years, The Statler Brothers maintained one of country music’s top-grossing roadshows, at the same time, enjoyed great success as recording artists and television performers. However, in 2002, the band announced their retirement. 

In 2008, Harold Reid co-wrote a book with his brother, Don Reid – The Statler Brothers: Random Memories. The book is full of revelations about the group’s life on the road and recording studios for nearly four decades.

The book tells a story you’ve never heard before, like how the original Statlers were afflicted by potentially fatal illnesses; Harold had cancer, and Don had heart surgery. “I think we wanted to write about the humanity — the human part of all these things,” Harold said.