The Wilburn Brothers

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The Wilburn Brothers
Wilburn Brothers.jpg
Teddy (l) and Doyle Wilburn – 1954
Background information
OriginHardy, Arkansas
Years active1954–1982
Past membersDoyle Wilburn
Teddy Wilburn
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The Wilburn Brothers
Wilburn Brothers.jpg
Teddy (l) and Doyle Wilburn – 1954
Background information
OriginHardy, Arkansas
Years active1954–1982
Past membersDoyle Wilburn
Teddy Wilburn

The Wilburn Brothers were a popular American country music duo from the 1950s to the 1970s consisting of brothers Doyle Wilburn (July 7, 1930 – October 16, 1982) and Teddy Wilburn (November 30, 1931 – November 24, 2003).


The brothers were born in Hardy, Arkansas. Their actual birth names were Virgil Doyle and Thurman Theodore. They first attracted attention as child performers, beginning in 1937, in an act called The Wilburn Children;[1] Roy Acuff discovered them and brought them to the Grand Ole Opry in 1940.[2] Due to federal child labor laws, the Wilburns were forced to leave the Opry after six months.

After growing up, they continued to travel and were regulars on the similar Louisiana Hayride program in Shreveport from 1948[3] until 1951. After the family act disbanded, and the brothers served stints in the US Army during the Korean War, they continued in 1953 as The Wilburn Brothers touring with Faron Young and Webb Pierce.[4] They signed with Decca Records in May 1954[5] and had their first hit record the same year titled "Sparkling Brown Eyes." Other notable hits include "Go Away With Me" (1956), "Which One Is To Blame" (1959), "Trouble's Back In Town" (1962), "It's Another World" (1965), and "Hurt Her Once For Me" (1967).

In 1956, the Wilburns were offered the chance to record "Heartbreak Hotel" before Elvis Presley.[6] After hearing the song they decided against recording it, describing it as "strange and almost morbid".[6]

In addition to being successful artists, the Wilburns formed the Wil-helm Talent Agency (with Don Helms) in the early 1960s[4] as well as the Surefire Music Publishing Company in 1963.[7] They were instrumental in launching the careers of many country music legends, most notably Loretta Lynn,[8] whom they signed to their music publishing company. Lynn was the "girl singer" of the Wilburns' touring show between 1960 and 1968[9] and she made weekly appearances on their syndicated television show from 1963 to 1971.[8] They also helped develop the career of Patty Loveless between 1973 and 1975 by having her tour with them on weekends and during school breaks.

The Wilburn Brothers had a syndicated television program, The Wilburn Brothers Show, that ran from 1963 to 1974, with 354 half-hour episodes produced. Reruns can still be seen on the cable network RFD-TV and in the UK on Rural TV. They were Opry members from 1953 until the time of Doyle's death from cancer in 1982 (at age 52). Teddy continued with the Opry as a solo artist until his death in 2003, six days before his 72nd birthday.

They are both buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.

A biography on the duo, written with the cooperation of the Wilburn family, is in the works.



YearAlbumChart PositionsLabel
US CountryUS
1957Wilburn BrothersDecca
1958Side by Side
1959Livin' in God's Country
1960The Big Heartbreak
1961The Wilburn Brothers Sing
City Limits
1962Folk Songs
1963Trouble's Back in Town
1964Take Up Thy Cross
Never Alone
1965Country Gold
I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
1966The Wilburn Brothers Show25
Let's Go Country10
1967Two for the Show7
Cool Country11
1968It's Another World23
Greatest Hits
1969We Need a Lot More Happiness
It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine
1970Little Johnny from Down the Street31143
Sing Your Heart Out Country Boy
1971That She's Leaving Feeling
1977The Wilburn Brothers Sing Hinson and GaitherCalvary
1981Stars of the Grand Ole Opry1st Gen


YearSingleChart PositionsAlbum
US CountryUS
1954"Sparkling Brown Eyes" (w/ Webb Pierce)4singles only
"Really Love Me"
"Let Me Be the First to Know"
1955"I Wanna Wanna Wanna"13
"Mixed Up Medley"
1956"You're Not Play Love"13
"I'm So in Love with You"10
"Go Away with Me"6
1957"Nothing at All"
"Mister Love" (w/ Ernest Tubb)8
"I Got Over the Blues"
1958"My Baby Ain't My Baby No More"
"Hey, Mr. Bluebird" (w/ Ernest Tubb)9
"Till I'm the Only One"
1959"Which One Is to Blame"4
"The Knoxville Girl"18
"Somebody's Back in Town"6
"A Woman's Intuition"9
1960"Sentenced to Die"
"Big Heartbreak"The Big Heartbreak
"The Best of All My Heartaches"27singles only
1961"Legend of the Big River Train"
"Blue Blue Day"14The Wilburn Brothers Sing
"Tagging Along"single only
1962"Trouble's Back in Town"4101Trouble's Back in Town
"The Sound of Your Footsteps"21
1963"Roll Muddy River"4Never Alone
"Tell Her So"10single only
1964"Hangin' Around"34Never Alone
"Impossible"single only
"I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight"19I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
1965"I Had One Too Many"30
"It's Another World"5The Wilburn Brothers Show
1966"Someone Before Me"8Let's Go Country
"I Can't Keep Away from You"13Two for the Show
"Hurt Her Once for Me"3
1967"Just to Be Where You Are"70
"Roarin' Again"13It's Another World
"Goody, Goody Gumdrop"24Cool Country
1968"I'm Leavin'"Two for the Show
"She'll Walk All Over You"It's Another World
"We Need a Lot More Happiness"43We Need a Lot More Happiness
1969"It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine"38
"Who Could Ask for More"
"Tag Along"single only
1970"Little Johnny from Down the Street"37Little Johnny from Down the Street
"Lilacs in Winter"
"I've Gotta Hang My Hat Upon the Wind"That She's Leaving Feeling
1971"That She's Leaving Feeling"
"Bloomin' Fools"
"Opryland"single only
"City's Goin' Country"Portrait
1973"Simon Crutchfield's Grave"
1974"You've Still Got a Place in My Heart"singles only
1975"Milwaukee You're in Trouble"
1976"Country Kind of Feeling"
1978"Mama's Shoe Box"
1981"I Know a Goodbye When I See One"Stars of the Grand Ole Opry


  1. ^ Diekman 2007, p. 17.
  2. ^ Billboard, 17 February 1968, Nielsen Business Media, p. 30
  3. ^ Hefley 1992, p. 177.
  4. ^ a b Carlin 2003, p. 429.
  5. ^ Billboard, 28 May 1966, Nielsen Business Media, p. 6
  6. ^ a b Collins, Ace (2005). Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's No. 1 Hits. Souvenir Press Ltd. pp. 10–18. ISBN 978-0-285-63738-2. 
  7. ^ Bush, Mitchell 2007, p. 91.
  8. ^ a b Ellison 1995, p. 175.
  9. ^ Hoffman, Ferstler 2004, p. 637.


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