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Family Circle

Larry Gatlin sits on the front porch at his home near Austin and cuddles the latest love of his life - 2-year-old granddaughter Parker.

"I have to see her at least once a day," sighs the 54-year-old grandfather. "She's a ray of sunshine."

Life is sunny all around for Larry these days. He and wife Janis live close to daughter Kristin and little Parker - and a chip shot away from a local golf course. "I only play on days that end in Y," jokes the avid golfer.

Most of all, he's excited about re-forming Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers with siblings Steve and Rudy. The act broke up nearly 10 years ago after two decades of scoring smash hits like "Broken Lady," "Houston" and their signature tune, "All The Gold In California," a No. 1 in 1979. "We just said that it was time to do something else," says Larry matter-of-factly. "I could see that the record business didn't want us anymore - and I thought it was best to leave five minutes too early rather than five years too late. But we had a great run."

Larry and his brothers sprinted their separate ways, with Larry turning his talents to the theater, starring in Will Rogers Follies, The Music Man and The Civil War. In 2000, the brothers discussed reuniting.

"We decided that we'd do limited engagements," Larry explains. "At least for the next couple of years, we'll play about 50 one-nighters a year. And so, we'll do 12 weeks in Branson, including a Christmas show, starting in the fall."

Larry also has other irons in the fire. "I'm very close to signing a deal with a performing arts center in Austin as sort of a composer in residence," he adds. "They are looking to put on some Texas musicals written by Texas musicians."

He would jump at the chance to record again, if handed the opportunity. "I still write, and have enough original material to do an album," he says. "But being a grandpa with thinning hair, I don't know of anyone that would take a chance on me.

"I'm willing to listen, though. If somebody makes me an offer that I can't understand," Larry adds with a hearty laugh, "I'll take it!"

-- Bob Paxman