Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Louvin passed away this morning at his home in Wartrace, Tennessee, after battling pancreatic cancer for the last several months.

Charles Elzer 
(Charlie Louvin)

7th. July 1927 to 
26th. January 2011

Country music singer
and songwriter

Member of the 
Grand Ole Opry 
since 1955

I expect that most English people between the age of 50 and 70, who are into popular music, were turned onto real country music after listening to the Rolling Stones' albums of the late 1960s and early 70s. Keith Richards was turned onto real country music by Gram Parsons (a singer so far up MadPriest's list of greatest ever musicians that you would need a telescope to see him). The greatest influence on Gram parson's vocal style were the Louvin Brothers. Not only did he adore the brothers' harmonies but he also studied them and learnt them. You can here them on the International Submarine Band recordings, during his stint in The Byrds and when he was solo or duetting with Emmylou.

Thanks to the maverick deejay, Andy Kershaw, I started exploring the roots of Parsons' music in the early 1980s and I soon came across the recordings of the Louvin Brothers. I immediately fell in love with their harmonies and their sincerity and I have been a fan of theirs and old time country gospel music ever since.

The Louvin Brothers split up in 1963 having performed together for 32 years. Ira, died on June 20, 1965 when a drunken driver struck his car in Williamsburg, Missouri. Charlie hit the road as a solo act and became a fixture on the Grand Ole Opry stage. For the last ten years or so, Charlie has been the grand ole man of traditional country music, revered by the musicians of the "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou" generation and he never stopped performing. His latest album was released just a couple of months ago and he was booked to play a couple of gigs in Nashville next month.

My tribute selection on the jukebox consists of four Louvin Brother tracks from back in the day and then three songs recorded by Charlie in the last few years. In fact, the last track of my selection is the last track on his last album, a record on which Charlie worked through his great sadness that the country he had always been so proud of was still sending its sons and daughters overseas to fight in wars.

Rest in peace, Charlie Loudermilk.
There won't be war anymore where you are heading.



  1. Oh, Dear MadPriest! I had no idea that your taste ran to the Louvin Brothers! They were on the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday Night when I was a wee girl! I loved them once I got over being a snob about Country Music.

    I loved this selection of their music. The Crash On the Highway is especially poignant. Even though I knew he had continued to sing after Ira died, I had not heard the last three recordings. I have always liked “I Still Miss Someone.”

    I was surprised lately to find that Charlie was still alive. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. How beautiful Heaven must be, in deed.

  2. Thanks for taking the time and posting this. The honesty and purity of the Louvin Brothers music will live on and hopefully continue to be heard and gain a wider audience. The current (annual music) issue of Oxford American has a cut from them (and a great full page photo).

  3. God this is beautiful. My mother hated country music because her sister-in-law married a hillbilly from West Virginia after my mother’s brother died. As a result, I, too, thought country music was beneath me. I don’t remember when it was I began to think for myself and found the wonder of this form of music.

    I’m still not fond of disco, or rap, but you never know…!

  4. Rap is not music and all disco isn’t the Bee Gees. I could probably persuade you like good disco music but I wouldn’t even want to persuade you to like hip hop.

  5. I like Gram Parsons, I’m intelligent, witty and have friends.

    So don’t worry, troll, it’s only one thing you have in common with me.

  6. Thanks for the Charlie Louvin tribute. Here in the U.S., I heard an interview snippet from NPR’s “Fresh Air” recorded about six years ago. Charlie talked about his long-deceased brother, Ira. He said he and Ira always sang into one mic when performing. Charlie also said that a habit of his was to step slightly to the left to let Ira come in with the harmony. He could never quite break that habit, he admitted.

    Joe from L.A.

  7. One more thing about the Louvin Brothers: There’s nothing like the Louvins themselves, of course. But a wonderful cd is “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers,” on the Rhino label. It’s a collection of Louvin songs covered by some of the best singers: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, James Taylor and Alison Kraus, Merle Haggard and Carl Jackson, Johnny Cash and Pam Tillis, Glenn Campbell and Leslie Satcher, Patty Loveless and Jon Randall, and lots more. It’s available through Amazon and your link there, Madpriest.
    Joe from L.A.

  8. Heck you can’t like GP and not like the Louvin Bros. And that goes for Dwight Yoakum, too.There’s a direct line from Arkansas to Bakersfield. Funny, but this thread brought me to the duets that George Jones and Gene Pitney did… and the latter sang “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday,” written by Mick and Keef. No Kevin Bacon here, but there’s the 6 degrees, or less…