Monday, November 29, 2010

Teddy Wilburn

I want to take a moment and remember the late Grand Ole Opry star Teddy Wilburn. Teddy was born on November 30, 1931 and would have celebrated his 79th birthday on Tuesday. Teddy was born in Hardy, Arkansas, and came from a very musical family. The performed with their family members as The Wilburn Children. Roy Acuff discovered them and brought them to the Grand Ole Opry in 1940. However, they were found to be in violation of child labor laws and were forced to leave the Opry six months later.

In the early 1950's, Teddy teamed up with his brother Doyle to form The Wilburn Brothers. Although they were very popular, they never had a #1 record. The closest they came was in 1963 when the song, "Hurt Her Once For Me", went to #3 on the charts. "Trouble's Back In Town", perhaps their most popular number, went to #4 in 1962. They had a recording career that lasted from 1954 to 1981. Doyle died in 1982 and Teddy continued to appear on the Opry as a solo act.

In addition to being successful recording artists, the brothers also owned a publishing business and a talent agency. They signed a number of new artists, most notably Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless, who were both part of their road shows and television shows, which ran from 1963 to 1974. The show can still be seen on RFD-TV. One incident that does stand out in their career is that they had signed Loretta Lynn to their publishing company and then after she became very successful, they refused to release her from her contract. It has been reported that Loretta stopped her songwriting after that, and it is rumored that she signed with another company and wrote under an assumed name.

Doyle and Teddy joined the Opry in 1953 and Teddy remained an Opry member until his death on November 24, 2003, although making very few appearances in his later years. As Opry members, they were very popular, and were often segment hosts for the shows. For many years, The Wilburn Brothers have received consideration for election to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They were one of the most influential duo acts in country music during the 1950's and 1960's, but what has hurt their chances are the fact that they never had a #1 record and the problems, that became very public, with Loretta Lynn.

In all the years of attending the Opry, I find it hard to believe that I saw Teddy Wilburn only one time and that was on Friday September 30, 1989. On that Friday night, the Opry had 2 shows and Teddy appeared only on the 2nd show. In memory of Teddy Wilburn, here is the Opry line-up from that night.

9:30 (Music Valley Drive Merchants): Grandpa Jones(host); George Hamilton IV; Teddy Wilburn; 4 Guys; Jimmy C. Newman
10:00 ( Goody's Headache Powder): Roy Acuff(host); Jean Shepard; Billy Walker
10:30 (Pillsbury Hungry Jack Biscuits): Bill Monroe(host); Connie Smith; Jimmy Dickens; Justin Tubb
11:00 (Luck's Foods): Hank Snow(host); The Osborne Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Carlisles
11:30 (Heinz): Jim Ed Brown(host); Jack Greene; Jan Howard


  1. Thanks for posting this. I always thought he was a great old-fashioned country singer. They were quite a pair: Ralph Emery once said that he never ran into Doyle without him trying to promote something, so he was clearly on the business end of things. I remember that a couple of times, when he did Del Reeves's segment, Del would introduce him as "Teddy Doyle," like it was a mental block.

    There's an interesting website,, that has some stuff on him that's very interesting.

  2. Thanks for remembrance of Teddy Wilburn. Teddy was a wonderful person, a real gentleman. Teddy and Doyle were great singers, and Teddy did a great job by himself. They were loved by and will always be missed by their friends,fans, and family.

    They had a #1 song that stayed 21 weeks...with Webb Pierce, even though they were not given credit on the record...."He's In the Jailhouse Now".

    Teddy and Doyle helped a lot of people in country music. They did a lot for country music. They deserve to be in the CMA Hall of Fame, like a lot of others, Johnny and Jack, Jean Shepard, Jack Green and I could go on and on..

  3. The Wilburn Brothers were always my favorite country singers. Doyle had the business acumen and Teddy the creativity. Teddy was the lead singer and Doyle joined him with his fine harmony. Teddy was known in Nashville as a "Song Doctor" because he could take a mediocre song and make it great. He helped Loretta Lynn so much in this area. The Wilburn Brothers definitely belong in the CMHoF and it is disgraceful that they have been overlooked all these years.