Charlie Louvin Dies at 83
Charlie Louvin, a Country Music Hall of Fame member as one-half of the Louvin Brothers, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer early this morning (Jan. 26) at 83 years old.
Charlie Elzer Loudermilk was born on July 7, 1927 in Section, Alabama, three years after the birth of his brother and eventual singing partner, Ira Lonnie Loudermilk. (They changed their name to Louvin in 1947.)
The brothers starting singing together on radio stations and at churches before the were even 20 years old, with Ira on the mandolin and Charlie on the guitar. They started out focusing on gospel songs, but finding it difficult to support themselves on church offerings, they turned to playing secular music.
After recording at various labels, the sibling duo found a home at Capitol Records in the mid 1950s and were invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1955. Later that year, they had their first Billboard chart record with their hit "When I Stop Dreaming." The song peaked at No. 8.
The Louvin Brothers scored their only No. 1 hit the next year with "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby." At the peak of their career, just before country music was drowned by rock 'n' roll, the Louvins counted Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash among their opening acts.
Before splitting up in 1963, the Louvin Brothers charted 10 more singles, including the Top 10s "Hoping That You're Hoping," "You're Running Wild," "Cash on the Barrel Head" and "My Baby's Gone." Each brother pursued a solo career after the split, but sadly, Ira only charted one single before he and his wife were killed in a tragic car wreck in 1965.
Charlie Louvin continued to appear on the Grand Ole Opry and charted singles at least once a year for the next decade. His biggest hits were "I Don't Love You Anymore" (No. 4, 1964) and "See the Big Man Cry" (No. 7, 1965).
The rock world took notice of the Louvin Brothers in the late '60s when various bands - such as Johnny Cash, Emmylous Harris, Gram Parsons, The Byrds, Beck and Jack White - covered the brother duo's songs. Charlie went on to have a more hit singles and was featured as a special guest alongside many other artists.
In 2003, Louvin recorded "I Will Go Sailing No More" from Toy Story in an album of Disney favorites interpreted by country stars. That year, an Grammy-winning tribute album, Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers, was released and featured many hit country stars.
A video documentary, Still Rattlin' the Devil's Cage, was shot in December to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Louvin Brothers' classic album, Satan Is Real, which is expected to be released on DVD this spring.
The Louvin Brothers were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
One of the most influential duos in country music history, the Louvin Brothers inspired an entire generation of musicians to keep on playing.
To get goosebumps from his voice and to remember the impact that these brothers had on the music world, watch the legendary Charlie Louvin pay a tender tribute to his partner in music history and life in the video for "Ira."