The Cate Brothers are the singer-songwriter-musician duo of Earl and Ernest (Ernie) Cate (born December 26, 1942), twin brothers from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who in the mid-1960s became performers of country soul music at clubs and dances in Arkansas and elsewhere in the mid-South of the United States. Both brothers are singers, with Earl playing guitar and Ernie playing piano. They were recording artists during the mid- to late 1970s and again from the mid-1990s through the first decade of the 2000s.
In their hometown of Fayetteville in the 1950s, where rock-and-roll pioneer Ronnie Hawkins had also grown up during the 1940s, Hawkins owned and operated the Rockwood Club. Other early rock musicians came to play there, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.
During the late 1950s the Cate brothers associated with Hawkins and his band, the Hawks, including drummer Levon Helm. In 1958 Hawkins and his band left Arkansas and settled in Canada. Later the Hawks went on to form the Band.
In 1975, Helm introduced the Cate brothers to a record company representative in Los Angeles. The brothers soon after received a recording contract with Asylum Records, and so began their recording career.
Their self-titled debut album released in 1975 was produced by guitarist Steve Cropper. He also performed on the record along with Levon Helm, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Poco bass guitarist Timothy B. Schmit (who later joined the Eagles). The album contained the duo's only Top 40 single, "Union Man", which spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #24 in May 1976.
Two more albums followed, In One Eye and out the Other in 1976 and Cate Bros. Band (with drummer Terry Cagle and bassist Ron Eoff) in 1977.
In 1979 the brothers released their fourth and final album of the period, Fire on the Tracks, which reached number 24 on the album rock charts on the success of "Union Man". That single was one of the songs they had performed during the Austin City Limits television show, leading up to the album's release.
During the 1980s they issued no recordings, though they remained a popular touring act around the southern country rock and blues circuit of the Tennessee and Arkansas region.
In the early 1980s, the brothers joined Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson in a revival of the Band (without guitarist Robbie Robertson) and also worked with singer Maria Muldaur.
The Cate brothers resumed recording in the mid-1990s, releasing five albums on independent labels from 1995 to 2009.
Porky Hill, the drummer for the Cate Brothers Band for 12 years, died in September 2000. Ron Eoff's brother Mickey then joined the band.
- Cate Bros. (Asylum Records, 1975)
- In One Eye and out the Other (Asylum Records, 1976)
- Cate Bros. Band (Asylum Records, 1977)
- Fire on the Tracks (Asylum Records, 1979)
- Radioland (Icehouse Records, 1995)
- Struck a Vein (Big Burger Records, 1997)
- Arkansas Soul Siblings: The Crazy Cajun Recordings (Edsel Records, 1999) – the earliest recordings of the Cate Brothers, predating their debut on Asylum Records by several years; remastered and reissued as Born to Wander: The Crazy Cajun Recordings (Broadside Records, 2009)
- Live (Current Records, 1999)
- Play by the Rules (Louisiana Red Hot Records, 2004)
- The Cate Brothers' Bio, crazycajunmusic.com
- Cate Brothers biography, VH1.com
- Delbert McClinton followed by Cate Brothers, Austin City Limits, 1979