Country Music Legend Charlie Louvin (1927-2011)
The music world lost one of it's most lovable and influential voices early Tuesday morning when Charlie Louvin passed away at his home in Tennessee, at the age of 83, as a result of a battle with pancreatic cancer. Louvin was a grandfather figure in the world of country music, having been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than half a century, and a member of the County Music Hall of Fame since 2001. His rise to fame came in the 50's when he and his older brother Ira -- together known as the Louvin Brothers -- entered the country music mainstream. The duo was known for their close harmonies, echoes of which can still be heard in pop and country music today. Among their most recognized and direct followers include Emmylou Harris, The Every Brothers, and the Byrds.
Charlie began singing as a youngster in the church choir alongside his brother, an experience which would influence the harmony rich and Gospel rooted -- though they would go on to perform secular material as well -- Louvin Brothers. The duo performed on radio programs as teenagers in the 40's and began appearing on the Grand Ole Opry in the 50's, taking a couple of brief hiatuses during those decades when Charlie went off to fight in WWII, and later the Korean War. The group would have several charting singles, among the most famous being "When I Stop Dreaming" and "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby". In 1963, the duo called it quits, and a couple of years later Ira was killed in a car accident. After the duo split, and the death of Ira, Charlie continued performing solo throughout the rest of his life, remaining a presence on the Grand Ole Opry, and earning a few hits with tunes such as "I Don't Love You Anymore" and "See the Big Man Cry".
In recent years, Charlie has enjoyed some well deserved recognition, and a surge of productivity. Following his 2001 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Louvin released four studio albums in the last four years of his life; two of which--2007's Charlie Louvin, which featured guest appearances from Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy and others, and 2008's Steps to Heaven--earned him Grammy nominations. In all, Louvin has left us with dozens of releases, and countless followers. And that's enough to keep him alive in this world for generations to come.
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