Artists Profile: Cate Brothers


Introduction to Cate Brothers

Oldies music fans will probably recognize the Cate Brothers. Consisting of twin brothers Earl and Ernest Cate (born on December 26, 1942), the Arkansas-based duo the Cate Brothers gained recognition for their one and only hit “Union Man” during the 70s music era. It entered the Top 40 of the Billboard pop chart at #24. A little bit more of the Cate Brothers in this article.

The early musical career of the Cate Brothers

The Cate Brothers were a short-lived American classic rock n’ roll/country duo who originated from Fayetteville, Arkansas. The act consisted of singers-songwriters-musicians Earl and Ernest Cate (born on December 26, 1942 in Fayetteville, Arkasas) who were also twin brothers in real life. Earl played guitar while Ernie played the piano. During  the mid-1960’s, they first set foot on the stage at the local clubs of the area, extending to the mid-South of the country. In the late 1950’s, the Cate brothers joined the Hawks. The band was spearheaded by the rock n’ roll pioneer Ronnie Hawkins who also grew up in Fayetteville and later owned a joint called the Rockwood Club.

The Cate Brothers’ “Union Man” and other releases

The Cale Brothers were signed to Asylum Records after being introduced by the Hawks’ drummer Levon Helm in 1975. Produced by guitarist Steve Cropper, their self-titled album was issued later that year, along with its carrier single “Union Man.” The song was a smash hit in 1976, enjoying its stay on the Billboard pop charts for 20 weeks at #24. They managed to score a minor hit with “Can’t Change My Heart” (#91 pop) also in 1976, but the Cate Brothers are mostly considered as one hit wonders. They went on to release three more albums before leaving the business: In One Eye and out the Other (1976), Cate Bros. Band (1977) and Fire on the Tracks (1979), with the last peaking at #24 on the rock charts.

In 1978, they had a notable appearance on Austin City Limits, a music television program on PBS where they performed several of their songs, including their biggest hit “Union Man.”

Later years

Cate Brothers returned to the recording studio in 1995 and issued the LP Radioland. It features the guitar works of blues guitarist CoCo Montoya of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. They have continued to release albums on several independent record labels.

Cale Brothers Band’s drummer for 12 years, Porky Hill, passed away in September 2000.

Cate Brothers discography (may be partial)

Asylum Records

(Mar 1976)

The Cate Brothers

  • Union Man
  • Easy Way Out
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