From Staunton, Virginia, the Statler Brothers waited for more than a dozen years after their first appearance on the Billboard country chart before they finally earned their first No. 1 single. “Flowers On The Wall,” written by founding tenor Lew DeWitt, provided their initial chart entry in September of 1965. During that time, the group was travelling as part of the Johnny Cash Road Show, and didn’t even realize their first record was a hit until someone brought copies of Billboard’s country and pop charts to them, showing that “Flowers On The Wall” was sitting at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the country playlist. Further hits didn’t come the boys’ way, however, until they signed with Mercury Records in 1970. It was then that the group started landing in the high rungs of the chart pretty consistently with hits.
Finally, the Statlers topped the charts with a song whose inspiration came from routine interaction with a fan from the bandstand. Concertgoers would approach the stage to make requests, and one particular girl caught the attention of bass vocalist Harold Reid when she came up to the stage and asked, “Do you know ‘You Are My Sunshine’?” Of course, the group was indeed familiar with the old classic from 1940 made famous by Jimmie Davis, although the song wasn’t part of their repertoire. After the show, Harold mentioned to his comrades about the girl’s request and thought that she might have inadvertently given him an idea for a song. So he and his brother Don, who wrote most of their hits, went to work on it, finishing “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine” just one day before it was recorded. The record made it to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart on May 27, 1978.
“Do You Know You Are My Sunshine” holds a small footnote in history as the only single to ever reach number one featuring the title of another song within its own title. It’s also the only chart-topping release to feature the original Statler line-up: brothers Don and Harold Reid, Phil Balsley, and Lew DeWitt. Illness forced DeWitt’s retirement from the group and he was replaced by Jimmy Fortune in 1983.
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