Charlie Moore biography in the works

Travers Chandler is at work on a biography of Charlie Moore, likely the first to be compiled for this influential bluegrass artist.

Charlie was a popular performer in the 1960s and ’70, with his band The Dixie Partners, and as a duo partner with Bill Napier. He recorded prolifically in both formulations, with favorable comparisons offered at the time between his rich, baritone voice and that of Carter Stanley.

Sadly, Charlie faced the same issues with alcohol that took Carter at such an early age. Moore also died young in 1979, at the age of 44, and didn’t live to participate in the more recent growth of bluegrass music.

Many younger pickers and fans are not well familiar with his work, though fortunately, a good number of his recordings are available still on CD. But even folks who might not immediately recognize his name surely know his songs. Moore’s most enduring number is Legend of the Rebel Soldier, famously tied to Charlie Waller and The Country Gentlemen. He also wrote Kentucky Girl, recorded by Larry Sparks, and I’m Leaving Detroit, cut by both Danny Paisley and IIIrd Tyme Out.

For Chandler, it’s a mission of ensuring that Charlie’s legacy is remembered, and tells us that he already has a publisher who has expressed an interest in the book, tentatively titled Searching for Charlie Moore.

“Ralph Stanley once told me that Charlie Moore was the greatest songwriter next to his brother Carter he ever heard. Jimmy Martin told me Charlie was one of the greatest singers that ever lived, country or bluegrass, and relayed to me the fact that Charlie could have been a country star in the 1960s, but refused to stray from what he just always called his ‘Hillbilly Music.’

Because so many parts of his early life are hard to verify, I am considering writing the book partly from the viewpoint of a sideman/bluegrass student who was so influenced by Charlie Moore that I took on the wild ride known as bluegrass. Part of it will be about the people I’ve met, and some of the things I saw while on the road ‘Searching for Charlie Moore.’

But it will all be about keeping his memory alive. It’s amazing to me how he could have such a good following in bluegrass, cut such a wide swath in his day, and leave behind such a legacy of songs – and a few years after his death be nearly forgotten. We are hoping to change that.”

Travers, who records and performs with his band, Avery County, will also include a complete discography of the many recordings by Charlie Moore.

Here’s hoping that we see the book soon – and that more writers/researchers will tackle the history of bluegrass music before any more of the first and second generation pioneers leave us for good.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.