Charlie Louvin remembered

Richard Thompson collected some thoughts about the passing of Charlie Louvin from some of the artists on whom he has left an impact.

Bobby Osborne has many memories of Charlie Louvin and his brother Ira over the years….

“There have been some great brother teams and in my opinion only Charlie was a part of one of the greatest brother acts to grace any stage with the close and perfect harmony they had together. I have every recording they ever recorded and me being a tenor singer, there was no better than Ira.

Charlie had the great lead voice the set him aside of all others with his brother. Charlie did great on his own also and I’m thankful to have known great people like Charlie Louvin.”

Curly Seckler acknowledges Louvin’s help ….

“I appreciate that Charlie helped me do some benefit shows in Manchester, Tennessee, in recent years. He was on three of them, and I appreciated him doing that, at the Senior Citizens’ Building in Manchester.

You know, the Louvin Brothers had some of the greatest duets that you could ever listen to, back when they were together. And I remember Charlie coming around me on some of these festivals. He’d come over and stick his arm around my neck and say, ‘Do you know where I can find me a good tenor singer?’ I said, ‘No, because I’m already booked up!'”

Valerie Smith confides….

“I loved Charlie Louvin, he was a loyal friend, a significant mentor and I really cared a great deal for him. I am going to miss so many things about the country music legend.”

Jesse McReynolds, who with his brother Jim, recorded a tribute album, Saluting the Louvin Brothers, for Epic Records in February 1969, remembers …..

“I became acquainted with Charlie in Korea in 1953. We had a lot of memorable times over there and it was there that we sang together for the first time. We were close friends for all the rest of his life.

Charlie will be truly missed by all his friends and fans. And the music industry will finally give him the praise he deserves, but never really got while he was living.”

Carl Jackson reminds us of a great tribute album ..

“It was a great honor for me to produce the Louvin Tribute project, Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers. Their harmony singing and songwriting has always been a great inspiration to me. I know the same holds true for countless others in every genre of music.

My plans were to keep the album a secret from Charlie until it was completely finished and then bring it to him as a surprise. However, I remember him walking up to me at a function and saying ‘a little bird had told him’ that I was working on a Louvin Brother project. It seems my dear friend, Sonya Isaacs, had let the cat out of the bag unintentionally and suddenly I was face to face with the man whose approval I most wanted.

Well, anyone that knew Charlie knows he was not hesitant to tell you what he thought. It was just one more thing I loved and appreciated about him, but now I was face to face with his judgment. Thankfully, any fear I had of disapproval quickly vanished, as Charlie’s pride and appreciation were conveyed to me by the words from his mouth and the mist in his eyes. A few weeks after that, Charlie came down to the studio while I recorded the vocals for How’s The World Treating You with Alison Krauss and James Taylor and there is no doubt in my mind that his presence ‘anointed’ the performance. It certainly made it a special day for all involved.

The word ‘legend’ is sometimes thrown about randomly and carelessly, but when speaking of both Charlie and Ira Louvin, it is appropriate beyond any shadow of doubt.

I will miss my friend, Charlie… as will all touched by his music and his life.”

Emmylou Harris, who has championed the Louvin Brothers’ music for many years, noted …..

“He really changed the world of music, Charlie did. I know that, for me, hearing the Louvin Brothers brought me that fierce love of harmony.

After The Louvin Brothers, Charlie kept on going for so many years. He will be missed.”

And a few more from the mainstream press…

From The Kansas City Star (AP) …

“They influenced everybody by the quality of their music,” Phil Everly said, “Harmony just got a lot better in heaven.”

Chris Hillman, a founding member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

“Whether you’re just a fan or a working artist who was influenced by them, I think we owe them a huge debt – both of them, Charlie did not just fade away into the woodwork after Ira died, even though he was the dominant member of the group. Charlie had hits of his own, and had a great career, and he was vital all the way up until he got this pancreatic cancer. He had plans to do another album, and we wanted to do (the Burrito Brothers’ song) Sin City together.”

John Rumble with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum said in an e-mail to The Associated Press:

“On their recordings, a tastefully played electric guitar was their only concession to modernism.”

“In sharp contrast to the prevailing honky-tonk and country-pop music of the day, their sound was essentially a throwback to the mandolin-guitar ‘brother duets’ of the 1930s, emphasizing high-pitched singing and a repertoire embracing both secular and sacred songs that stressed themes of family, love, sin and salvation.”

Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent shared these thoughts about Charlie Louvin with the Daily Press on Wednesday afternoon …

“I’ve been a friend of Charlie Louvin for over twenty years. He gave my family, The Sally Mountain Show, our first Opry appearance. It was televised on the Nashville Network, and he gave his spot up for us. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. We were great friends. He loved to tell me stories to make me laugh whenever we were at the Opry. We’re going to miss him.”

Darrin Vincent

“Charlie was a great friend to us and honored us by attending our CD release party for ‘Brothers From Different Mothers.’ It would be difficult to overstate his influence, in bluegrass and beyond. We’ll miss him.”

Jamie Dailey

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.