Tennessee Tourism and Chattanooga Tourism Co. will honor the "most influential harmony duet in country music", The Louvin Brothers, with the unveiling of a “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker Saturday, Aug. 20, at Patten Square. At the unveiling, hear from WDEF Radio’s Scott Miller as well as local and state leaders on the importance of this commemoration.
Patten Square is at 818 Georgia Ave.
About the Louvin Bothers:
Ira Lonnie Loudermilk, and his younger brother, Charles Elzer Loudermilk, the most influential harmony duet in country music, the Louvin Brothers, began their career in Chattanooga, where they perfected a style rooted in old-time “brother” duets and shape-note hymn singing. In addition, they brought sophisticated vocal interplay and an unprecedented degree of intensity. In 1942, the brothers entered a talent contest in Chattanooga and won three successive weeks, earning a 15-minute daily show on the city’s newest radio station, 25—watt WDEF. After the brothers worked the morning radio show and a full day at Peerless Woolen Mills, they often played shows in the evening. After the radio show ended, the brothers moved back to Alabama. Ira was drafted in June 1944 but was reportedly injured during basic training and discharged. The brothers immediately moved back to Chattanooga.
The Louvins worked with fiddle player Bob Douglas who had heard them perform at the American Theatre talent show and invited them to become part of his group. They called themselves the Foggy Mountain Boys five years before the bluegrass du Flat & Scruggs adopted the name.
Douglas’ Foggy Mountain Boys has a daily show on 5,000-watt WAPO. While performing on WAPO, Ira wrote his first song, “Weapon of Prayer.” In 1946, Charlie enlisted in the Air Force for 18 months. Ira went to Knoxville to join Charlie Monroe’s Kentucky Pardners band. After Charlie was discharged in 1947, he joined Ira in Knoxville, and they renamed themselves the Louvin Brothers. They were still in Knoxville when they began to record in 1947. After that, they lived in several cities before joining the Grande Ole Opry in Nashville in 1955.
The brothers broke up in 1963, but their music influenced country rock pioneer Gram Parsons of the Byrds and his duet partner Emmylou Harris (whose first No. 1 hit was the Louvins’ “If I Could Only Win Your Love”). The Louvins also influenced several generations of roots-oriented rock and country artists. A tribute album, Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ (with Harris, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Vine Gill and others), won the Grammy for Best Country Album in 2004.
Launched by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in 2018, Tennessee Music Pathways is an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s rich musical heritage at tnmusicpathways.com. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, Tennessee Music Pathways stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks from the seven genres of music that call Tennessee home.