It is with sadness that I write about the death of Charlie Elzer Loudermilk.
The world knew him as Charlie Louvin. It was decided early on that Louvin was a better show business name.
When I read today about Charlie Louvin’s death I wondered where to begin to write a post about this news. It took me about three seconds to consider how to start this blog entry.
Some memories never fade.
The night Charlie Louvin and I chatted behind a Wisconsin Dells music theatre stands out as if it happened yesterday. That it took place in 2006 makes the point about the kind of man Louvin was.
Charlie Louvin took time to talk with me. He did not need to. The fact he did take the time made an impression that lingers.
Using my pen that I had brought along for him to sign my guitar and put “06”, he continued using it to provide autographs for others as they ambled along. As Louvin did so he continued our line of discussion. I had asked him about the formative days when he and his brother, Ira, traveled the country.
He was 79-years-old at the time and had just released a new CD featuring one song with Elvis Costello. Charlie also did a number of shows with Elvis Presley in the 1950′s. While standing and chatting he smoked a few cigarettes and seemed to me to be caught up in recollections. The longer he spoke the more nostalgic he seemed to become. I do not think he ever got over the death of his brother.
The famed brothers are noted for the harmony and style which featured Charlie on guitar and lead vocals with his brother on mandolin and high tenor harmonies. Pure magic.
Charlie Louvin told me how many a week would end for the famous brothers as they made a mad dash from far-flung places to get back to “The Mother Church of Country Music”, the Ryman Auditorium and their set for the Opry stage. To be a member of the Opry one had to perform 26 times a year, and was paid $15.00, a far cry from what could be made on the road. Charlie estimated that an act lost on average over $50,000 per year, but he was proud to be a part of the Opry and never complained.
Charlie Louvin was one of those stars with true talent at showmanship, which is far different from just being a solid singer or musician with a great manager. He and his brother were two of the voices that started during the formative days of the Opry, creating music that still resonates.
Almost to the end of his life Charlie Louvin was standing tall and proud on that round circle at center stage at the Opry.
Early this morning Charlie Louvin passed away. Betty his wife of 61 years, along with their children were at his side.
At the Grand Ole Opry, and in the hearts of classic country music fans world-wide there is sadness at this news today. But somewhere above one thing is clear. Two brothers are again together to make remarkable music.