Charlie Louvin Dies at 83
Charlie Louvin, who, along with his brother Ira, influenced numerous country and rock performers from Dwight Yoakam and Emmylou Harris to Gram Parsons and the Byrds, has died from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 83.
Charlie's wife Betty, to whom he had been married for 61 years, confirmed to Nashville's WSM radio that Charlie passed away at around 1:30 AM on Wednesday (January 26).
In July, Charlie announced he was battling stage 2 pancreatic cancer for which he underwent surgery at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center. On Charlie's official website, his son, Sonny Louvin, reported that while his father had returned home from the hospital on July 30, "the surgery did not go as planned and he [would] begin using alternative methods of treatment going forward."
Born Charlie Elzer Loudermilk in 1927, Charlie grew up in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama, working beside his brother in the cotton mills and fields. The Louvin Brothers' distinct close harmony style developed when the duo began singing together as teenagers. They went from performing at a small radio station in Chattanooga, Tenn., to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry where they became Opry members in 1955. Their first big hit, 'When I Stop Dreaming,' reached the Top 10 on the country charts that same year, and the duo toured with Elvis Presley as their opening act. Hits that followed included 'I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby,' 'The Christian Life,' 'You're Running Wild' and 'Knoxville Girl.' The duo disbanded in 1963, with Ira releasing a solo album in 1964. He died a year later in a car crash.
Charlie's solo career also began in 1964, with 'I Don't Love You Anymore' being his first Top 5 hit beyond the Louvin Brothers. Other hits included 'I Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep,' 'Less and Less,' 'Off and On.'
In a 2007 Spinner interview, Charlie acknowledged the influence the Louvins had not only on fellow musicians, but on countless fans.
"I have known several cases where the drinking song ['Kneeling Drunkard's Plea'] -- my brother and I did actually made people quit drinking, or if they were a wife beater they would stop that. I think that most of the songs, like 'The Great Atomic Power,' is more relevant today than it was the '50s when we had the Cold War going on. It's just as truthful today at it was then, or maybe more so."
Charlie released the album, 'The Battles Rage On,' in November 2010.
Download a free mp3 of Charlie Louvin's 'Darling Corey' here, and watch his 'Ira' video -- a tribute to his brother -- below.