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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Charlie Louvin dies; country singer inspired Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello

By Terence McArdle

Charlie Louvin, 83, the country singer and Grand Old Opry performer who, as half of the duo The Louvin Brothers, influenced such later performers as the Everly Brothers died at his home in Warface, Tenn. from complications of pancreatic cancer.

The Louvin Brothers songs were later covered by such diverse performers as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and the Byrds,

The brothers were renown for both gospel songs and so-called heart songs and tearjerkers such as "If I Could Only Win Your Love," later recorded by Emmylou Harris.

They also updated many traditional -- and very morbid -- folk songs such as "In The Pines" and "Knoxville Girl" which were both included on their 1956 early concept album for Capitol, "The Tragic Songs of Life."

The Louvin Brothers' style evolved from the popular close harmony brother duos of the 1930s such as the Delmore Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys (Jim and Earl Bolick).

While the duo preserved the singing style of the earlier groups, they made it popular for 1950s audiences by adding electric guitar solos, many by a young Chet Atkins, and a driving beat from an upright bass. Ira Louvin's mandolin work also gave the duo a connection to the then evolving bluegrass genre.

After the duo disbanded in 1963, Mr. Louvin continued to record as a soloist and was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry into the next decade including a number one hit in 1966, "See The Big Man Cry. " Mr. Louvin's brother Ira had a much shorter solo career. He died in a car accident while touring in 1965.

As interest in the early Louvin Brothers material increased, Mr. Louvin had a recent resurgence in activity with performances at rock clubs and bluegrass festivals.

He continued to record and perform after his cancer diagnosis. His most recent album, "The Battle Rages On," was released in November.

A full obituary will follow.

By Terence McArdle  | January 26, 2011; 12:46 PM ET
Tags:  Charlie Louvin, Johnny Cash, Louvin Brothers  
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Comments

Every once in a while, this paper reports something important. God bless Charlie Louvin.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 1:00 AM | Report abuse

You know, at first, Carl, was was going to absolutely agree with your second sentence, but not the first. Then, I tend to agree with the fact that the Post could be in the business of making news and not reporting it.

So, maybe you could drag me into the first sentence, as well. What caught my attention is that this chat made the most popular list of Post stories on the web.

Now, that is interesting.

Around this area, there is a little bit of Louvin Brothers in so many artists' music.

As Carl said, God bless.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2011 4:11 AM | Report abuse

I have to echo that thought -- god bless Charlie Louvin.

Harmonies and music of unmatched beauty -- thank you.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 27, 2011 5:40 AM | Report abuse

I had the pleasure of doing a few shows with Charlie. Always a fun guy to sit with on the bus and swap lies, and when the house lights went down, a consummate showman.

I admired the way he would treat new performers. Showing rather than telling them to just keep diggin and do it for the love of it. And lending his talent to shows that otherwise wouldn't attract much of an audience for the newcomers.

He could make a waitress blush pretty well too, but always in a tasteful manner of course.

We're gonna miss you buddy. There's an empty bunk on the bus.

Posted by: noewerider | January 27, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

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