The Louvins’ brotherly (dis)harmony

Ira Louvin, left, and Charlie Louvin singing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in this undated photo. (Family of Charlie Louvin / October 11, 2011)

 Charlie Louvin’s new autobiography, ‘Satan Is Real, offers an unvarnished look at his life in and out of country music with his volatile older brother and onetime singing partner, Ira.

The records that brothers Ira and Charlie Louvin made in the 1950s and early ’60s are some of the most revered and influential in the history of country music. The songs, many of them written by the Alabama-born siblings, have been widely recorded by succeeding generations of singers; their distinctive harmonies on songs such as “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” “When I Stop Dreaming,” “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” “Every Time You Leave” and “Don’t Laugh” created a template that strongly affected groups from the Everly Brothers to the Beatles and the Byrds, to the Judds and forward to Lady Antebellum.

“You can’t find anybody, I don’t think, that was not inspired by them,” Vince Gill told The Times when Charlie died last January at age 83. “They were the kingpins of that family harmony.”

But that extraordinary harmony wasn’t often heard offstage, a fact that becomes clear immediately in “Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers.” Charlie Louvin’s new autobiography wastes no time dispelling notions that he put together a reverential reminiscence filtered through the rosy mists of time.

 LA Times gets the story