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Folks You Should Know: Lyle Egan

April 25th, 2012 9:27 am by Staff Report

Folks You Should Know: Lyle Egan

Lyle is a baritone harmony singer and guitarist, who plays with Jim Gates and the Keykeepers.

Submitted by Marilyn Gates

While a lot of seniors in their late 80s might enjoy spending the day relaxing in their rocking chairs, Lyle Egan of Kingsport is preparing to return to Maggard’s Recording Studio in Big Stone Gap, Va., to record his third (and fourth) CDs.

Lyle is a baritone harmony singer and guitarist; an intricate part of a classic country/classic gospel group known as Jim Gates and the Keykeepers. The group is currently working on a new gospel CD, as well as a western CD.

Lyle, a decorated World War II combat veteran, is not the only Egan in the group. He, along with his brothers, Horace (a Korean War veteran) and Zane (a retired chemist from Oak Ridge Laboratories), perform the sibling harmony that gives the group its unique sound. Horace plays the bass and sings tenor, and also writes songs. Zane’s deep bass voice and percussion instruments also enhance the group’s performance.

The Virginia side of the group lives in Duffield and is composed of Wayne Bishop, and Marilyn and Jim Gates. Wayne played lead guitar for a number of bands including the Virginia Gentlemen, who opened for many famous entertainers over the years. Besides being an awesome guitarist, Wayne is a local businessman and owner of Ky-bo Sales. Jim is retired from VDOT, does consulting inspection, and plays rhythm guitar for the group and performs as lead vocalist. Jim has played on stage at several venues in Nashville and has appeared on stage with well-known entertainers like Dolly Parton, Grandpa Jones and Norma Jean. His wife, Marilyn, enjoys songwriting and also provides lead vocals when she is not working for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

The group practices most every Tuesday night.

Despite his age, Lyle is the first one ready to practice his music and the last one to quit.

"My husband says that Lyle is the sweetest man God ever made. He and his brothers are great guys!"

Lyle Egan teams up with his brothers to arrange, write and score songs for the group. He is active in his church at Bloomingdale Baptist Church, where he sings in the choir. He doesn't let the band interfere with his church obligations, so the group works around any of the scheduled events.

The Egan Brothers were always encouraged by their parents to have friends and neighbors over to sing and play music at their home in Stanleytown (Scott County, Va.). They formed a quartet with their other brother, Charles (Buddy) Egan, who is now deceased.

After all these years, the Egans still like to argue about music, work diligently on getting it right and giving the best performance possible.

The group has performed at Duffield Daze, Tri-State Gospel Convention, festivals, holiday parties, churches, and performs routinely at Thursday night’s Pickin’ Porch at the Bristol Mall.

New CDs will be available in June. For more information about the group, contact Jim Gates at 276-393-1386.

Folks You Should Know is a monthly feature about local residents with interesting stories to tell. Meet more 'Folks You Should Know' on the first Sunday of each month in Sunday Stories. Share your ideas about folks we should feature by emailing Sunday Stories editor Carmen Musick at

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