Monday, November 1, 2010

Charlie Walker

I wanted to take a moment and remember Grand Ole Opry legend Charlie Walker, who would have celebrated his 84th birthday today. Charlie was born in Copeville, Texas on November 2, 1926. He passed away from cancer on September 12, 2008.

Charlie started out as a country music disc jockey. And, he was pretty good at it. So good in fact, that he was elected to the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1981. Charlie came to Nashville to pursue his career in country music. He never had a #1 record in is career, the closest being the great country classic, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down", which reached #2 on the charts. That song, by the way, was written by Country Music Hall of Fame member Harlan Howard. Charlie became a Grand Ole Opry member on August 17, 1967, and would remain an Opry member until he died.

I happened to meet Charlie one time in my life. He was at an Opry function that was taking place at Opryland. I introduced myself to him and when he found out I was from Canton, Ohio, he asked if I knew a good friend of his, Jaybird Drennen, who was a great country music DJ in Akron, Ohio, and who grew up in Texas and knew Charlie. When I said I did and had met him several times, that just made Charlie's day and he went on and talked about Jaybird and other country music topics for quite a while. It was a pleasure to spend time with him and when I got back home and called Jaybird to tell him Charlie said hello, he could not believe it. I also know that Charlie tried his hand at politics, running for I believe the state senate in Tennessee. He was a fine country gentleman.

During Charlie's years as an Opry member, he also hosted many segments. Even after he reached senior status on the Opry and his appearances were cut back, Charlie still hosted slots. In fact, after Johnny Russell died and the Opry was still on until midnight, Charlie often hosted that last segment.

Charlie's final Opry appearance was on Friday March 21, 2008 and that was his only Opry appearance of the year.

In honor of Charlie Walker, here is the Opry line-up from his final show:

8:00: John Conlee(host); Connie Smith; Sarah Johns
8:30: Jean Shepard(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; James Otto
9:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Charlie Walker; George Hamilton IV; Josh Gracin
9:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jack Greene; Cherryholmes

1 comment:

  1. He was a class act in every imaginable way.

    My lasting memory of him will always be when he hosted the televised segment after Archie Campbell died, took off his hat to sing "In the Garden," and you could see him getting misty-eyed.