Remembering Charlie Feathers
Charlie passed Away August 29th, 1998, Memphis, TN
Submit your comments.
From Charlie's family, Sun., Aug. 30, 1998
Wake: Monday August 31, at 3:30 p.m.
Holly Springs Funeral Home
Holly Springs. MS
Funeral: Tuesday at 1:00
Procession to Forest Hill Cemetery for burial
Thank you all for your love and support.
We really appreciate you sharing all your memories and sentiments.
Charlie is really "diggin' it".
Love and Thanks,
Rosemary, Wanda, Bubba, Ricky and all The Feathers Family.
Charlie's passing seems to be bringing all of us together.
Please submit your thoughts, tributes and comments on Charlie here as Charlie, his family and
the world will FINALLY BE ABLE TO READ and learn more about the man who
was pure rockabilly.
Those of you who have Billy Poore's book "Rockabilly: A 40 Year Journey"
can find much more information on Charlie as
Billy and Charlie were very close.
-Bob Timmers, Curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Charlie's Official Obituary
From Friends, Family and Fans:
i'm a child of the 50's and i thought i knew most of the rock'n' roll people of that time.
i found charlie by accident on yahoo 50,s rock ,n roll station, he was singing the elvis
song, YOUR RIGHT I'M LEFT SHE,S GONE, it completly knocked me out, since then i have found
out more about him and i have ordered some of his records,i think he was truly great, i cant wait
to hear more of his work.
i've been a rockabilly fan for 15 years and a true definition of the music is the sound and
soul of charlie feathers who in my opinion was one of the greats and unmatched musically. a real
talent who's music and memory live on. many thanks howard avery.
I've been a Charlie Feathers fan since I was a fifteen year boy old living in a little town
called Luton, Bedfordshire in England. I am now forty. I wasn't like all the other kids at school.
They were being weaned on the likes of The Jam, The Clash, Blondie, early punk, etc., but my friend
and I would save our pocket money and go to the music shop on a Saturday morning because you could buy
some excellent second hand vinyl LP's for pocket money prices. (I still dont think they new what
they were selling!). But my friend Tony and I lapped them all up!. The likes of Elvis, Ray Campi, all
kinds of Rock and Roll compilations that someone bought but didnt know what they were listening to!
And it's here in said music shop where I bought my first Charlie Feathers' record, Tongue Tied Jill.
We played it non stop,then found others like Gone Gone Gone and Uh Huh Honey. What a great sound!
My father passed away just recently, January 2004 and he was a great fan of Charlie as well.
With any luck they will meet upstairs (heaven) and Charlie can sing my dad a song or two! And finally,
I must mention this because it is very recent. I was just sitting down to watch the latest Tarantino
film, Kill Bill, also 2004 and on the opening scene Charlie is playing on the radio of the sheriff's car!
The great man is gone ... but definately not forgotten. RIP Charlie Feathers.
Luton, Bedfordshire, England
I don't have the words to express the respect and the love that I feel for
Charlie Feather's or his music. He is to me, what Elvis might be be to other
people. Charlie Feathers wrote and played with an integrity that sets him
apart from the other musicians of his time. This world is a better place
just because He was here to write about it. Davey Blackmon -
Charlie was the Best Rockabilly Artist and now Charlie is gone. The world is
empty but, I like always Charlie and playing always his great records! I met
Charlie at 1976 In Memphis when he was at a concert there and that was very very great!
Charlie you are really the best and I'll never forget you!
Daniël - email@example.com
Charlie Feathers a true legend one heck of an artist.
Thank you mister for all you did for the music we all love so dearly.
We'll never forget you ... I'm so thankfull I still be able to listen to your music
... you did a fine job.
Rest in peace. I know you will have a big smile so now and then ... because of the
thing's youre daugther doing....she's so proud Mister...and you wil too.
In oure hearts we have you and your dear family.
Chapoo Mister Rockabilly......!
Nol Voorst from Maastricht-the Netherlands.
I just found out that Charlie Feathers passed away and I'm very sad about it.
(Boy, am I uninformed or what?) If he only recorded "Bottle to the Baby" and
nothing else that would have been more then enough to prove himself but he
did much much more than that. His music will always live on and get my feet
tappin' and always bring a smile to my face. You can bet your bottom dollar
they're really rockin' up in Heaven now and I bet ol' Charlie is giving God
guitar lessons. Rock on, Sir Charles! We will always love you and miss you.
- Steven Pearl (Feb., 2003)
I sit down in my room and I listen to this man, Charlie
Feathers and believe me, he lives on through his music. I cannot
believe that he is not more known, it is such a shame. He is one of
my favorite musician/songwriter and every time I hear him, I'm moved
by his voice. What a talented man. Rest in peace, Charlie, you're the
Charlie Feathers is and was one of a kind. I will sorely miss him. In my
opinion there are only three really great rockabilly artists (1) Charlie
Feathers (2) Sleepy Labeef (3) Carl Perkins. Charlie we will miss you. I am
so sorry that you were treated unfairly by the record moguls, but they could
never take away your talent. Rest In Peace.
Your memory lives in my heart. Your music, it's my life.
Good bye my best friend.
AS TEARS RUN DOWN MY FACE I THINK OF A SINGLE MONTH OF ONE PARTICULIAR YEAR
I WILL NEVER FORGET. AUGUST 1998. ON THE 20TH MY OLDER BROTHER IS IN A COMA FROM
A CAR ACCIDENT. ON THE 27TH PAUL SEISSUMS, OWNER OF THE BLACK CAT LOUNGE(WHERE MY
BOYFRIEND & I SPIN RECORDS EVERY MONDAY), DIES FROM CAR ACCIDENT - ON A MONDAY.
THEN ON THE 29TH, THE PASSING OF A MAN WHO WAS TRUE TO HIMSELF. WHO IS THE BEST
ROCKABILLY WHO'S EVER BEEN. CHANGED MY LIFE WHEN I HEARD IS MUSIC, HIS WONDERFUL
ONE OF A KIND VOICE. CHARLIE, I DID A TRIBUTE TO YOU ON MY RADIO PROGRAM THIS
MONTH, ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS ACROSS THE WORLD. SO TRUE MY SORROW FOR ONE MONTH
WHEN I SAW MY WHOLE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN.
TEARFUL IN TEXAS,
Hi everyone. Just thought I'd let you know that on 5th September 1999, me and a few pals
organised a tribute gig to Charlie here in Camden Town, London. The place
was packed and the atmosphere was great. A number of our friends
volunteered to play a few of Charlie's songs, with the main acts being Paul
Ansell of the great Number 9 and Nigel Lewis of the legendary Meteors. A
great time was had by all and we probably will do it again next year.
God bless. -Philippe
I grew up in south Mississippi, and among all the rhetoric and bs, I had an
uncle who was kind enough to introduce me to the music of the Tip-Top Daddy.
I've loved it ever since, making it a mission in life to let other folks now
just who Charlie Feathers is and what he means to American music. His
passing comes to us as a tragedy, not least because he was the greatest
musician that the Magnolia state ever produced, but also because he
epitomized the spirit of rockabilly. If the Feathers family gets a chance
to read this, I’m sorry for your loss, but his memory will never die. My
nephew knows who he is, and so will my children. Thank you Charlie, every
honky-tonk is a little less due to your passing.
1429 West Farwell Av. Apt. 2 South, Chicago, IL 60626
Great page on Charlie Feathers. Had some old Barrelhouse Records of his, I
thought they really highlighted his talent even though the production wasn't
that great. Went to Sun Studio a couple of years ago and asked about
Charlie, they said he was a "sick man" who had lost a lung. I bought his CD
that day, which is one of his best, by far. Today I found the web page and
was truly sorry to see that Charlie Feathers had died last year. Man, we
need more singers like Charlie Feathers--he sure made a mark on rockabilly,
as far as I'm concerned.
Charlie Feathers was a phenominal man and a phenominal artist! The last time
I visited him was in 1994, a few weeks before his surgery. He was a very
fiesty fella, who had his opinions about everything from who makes the best
fried chicken to who first came up with that musical style that we so
passionately refer to as "rockabilly". (And he didn't think it was Elvis).
As he grew older in age, he became a bit more jaded and his memory got a
heck of a lot more "selective" about his role in music history (as well as
Elvis'). But this is one man who's no-nonsense attitude (which may have
gotten him in a bit of trouble now & again) is one to reckon with. I have a
very high regard for the man and think he should have gotten a lot more
acknowlegement for what he's contributed to the music that we so love over
40 years after it was birthed.
Cari Lee - firstname.lastname@example.org
I had written A previous entry on this page a few months ago as a tribute
and I only feel it approprate to add how saddened I am to learn about the
death of Musical Warrior upright bassist Jody Chastain. It is without a doubt
a tragic irony
that these two deaths occured less than a year apart. I guess the true Sun
is almost gone forever and only vignettes and old records and a lot of
wonderful memories remain.I dont know anything about the where abouts of
Jerry Huffman but that he's still alive and out there God bless him and
grant him many more yeas with us. I pray that someone will someday put up
individual H.O.F. pages dedicated to the
Musical Warriors. LONG LIVE CHARLIE FEATHERS AND HIS MUSICAL WARRIORS: May
they play forever in Rockabilly Heaven!
I am 23 years old and I want to consider myself a true fan of roots music as
as all types of musical genres. Sadly I never got the chance to meet or talk
Charlie in his life. I guess I' was a little bit of a late bloomer when it
Charlie and his music, but hearing it, especially the King Records cuts from
and all the early Sun stuff can make anyone a believer. Had it not been for
my wonderful friend Billy Poore I might not have ever realized the full
extent of Charlie's
talent.Charlie was one of the few legends of rockabilly still alive in the
hadn't sold his integrity to Nashville or given up on what he really wanted
sake of hit records and glitter. Charlie will forever be a model to both
rockabilly singers and rockers of all types as a man who never let chart
and the everchanging tides of history change his vision or his
his music,it was his religion.He was it's high priest.
Tim Booher,Bristol TN
JUNE 15, 1999
What can I say that noone else already said. Rockabilly lost a true friend.
Even though I didn't know him I know he would have been as cool as his music.
The world will be a sadder place without him. He was a truly talented person
who made music everyone could relate to. My heartfelt wishes go out to you.
Bubba Feathers, for my money, is one of the greatest guitarists of all
time. Carry on the tradition.
(Feb. 4, 1999) Hi, I just discovered Charlie Feathers trough a radio station on the web "spinner" -
they have a "rockabilly program" and right now they are playing Uh Huh Honey - I've
just bought that CD - will check for more CDs with Charlie
what a voice - rockabily artist - He'll be missed - I'll miss him - Best regards,
I remember back in the fifties, me and my friends thought Charlie
Feathers was the coolest.I still do. Always have. We liked Elvis, but
Elvis didn't have what Charlie had. Charlie was TOUGH! We felt like
Charlie was more like one of us. Also, I knew a family where the man of
the house was said to be Charlie Feathers' brother. I don't remember the
man's name, but he had a daughter named Louise and a son named Charles.
I've read the Charlie Feathers web page and I don't see any mention of
them. Were they really related to Charlie Feathers? I also remember they
had some cousins named Guy and Lee Feathers too. I would appreciate a
I am a fan forever,respectfully,
(PS my email address is Memphisemail@example.com)
Charlie, It is a honor to call you my friend. I will miss you.
And you will always be the "KING OF ROCK A BILLY".
Goodbye Dear Friend, Until we meet again!
Charlie, and his place in history -
Over-rated, under-rated...I've heard both sides of the story -- until recently
only heard the Sun cut, "Defrost Your Heart." The new double disc - and how
timely it is-- has made a true believer out of me -- and about time. Highbrow
critic Greil Marcus called Charlie (in the book Mystery Train) "just an odd
country singer." Well, Charlie was an odd country singer, odd to the point of
genius. The alternate take of "I've Been Deceived" is otherworldly, moving,
strange, and totally Charlie. As I said, I'm a believer now. God bless him.
Heaven's now for sure a cool and hot boppin' place with Charlie in it.
I'll miss you a lot, Charlie. Never forget to remember you.
José Ramón Solera.
CHARLIE FEATHERS AT ROLLIN' ROCK: Rockin' Ronny Weiser's October HOF Column
You will live on forever!
Thank You for the music!
Thomas & Lisbeth
I have been on the road and don't get a chance to visit the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
site as much as I wish too.
I'm sorry to hear the news about Charlie Feathers.
I spoke with my dear friend Buddy Knox today and told him after I read the
news. He could only keep saying "I'm sorry to hear that, Charlie
Feathers.... He was a good friend".
Buddy and I send our support to the family.
Web site http://www.octonet.com/~london
In RAB Heaven...
One of best Hillbilly & Rockabilly Artists is gone.
We'll never forget him.
Peepin' Eyes looking at you,
I first heard of Charlie Feathers thanks to Breathless Dan's legendary record
lists. Later in college I blasted out the UK Polydor lp Rockabilly Kings, Charlie's
tracks were so amazing it was several days before I flipped the album over to hear
Mac Curtis' songs. I had ordered the new Revenant cd set a few days before hearing
of Charlie's sad passing. The music of course stands forever as a benchmark of
what rockabilly stands for and the superb booklet is a fitting reminder of
Charlie as a recording artist and a person.
The year 1998 will go down in history as the year in which Rockabilly lost
three of it's earliest pioneers. First Carl Perkins, then Jackie Lee Cochran
and now Mr. Rockabilly himself has left us. I would like to express my
condolences to his wife, children and family. I hope and pray they will find
comfort in knowing how many people all over the world have been touched by
Charlie's music and songs.
I had the privilege of meeting Charlie back in the summer of 1973 while
travelling through the South in search for stories for the Dutch Rock & Roll
magazine "Rockville-International". I found Charlie to be a gentleman, a rapid
talker and one hell of a rockabilly musician. We spent the afternoon
discussing music in general and the Memphis music scene in particular. Along
with the stories came old scrapbooks and I vividly remember photographer Hans
Langbroek spreading out the books on the side walk in front of Charlie's home
on Mac Murray Street because it had the best light for copying some of the
pictures. Later that evening we were treated to a performance by Charlie at a
small dancehall in Mississippi where we witnessed a true rockabilly cat at
work. Driving back to Memphis we talked some more and at one point Charlie
said he was going to call Elvis in the morning to see if we could not get to
Graceland the next day. Ofcourse it did not work out but it was a nice
thought. The visit with Charlie and his family was captured in an article in
the October 1974 edition of Rockville-International and the interview will be
available on the Internet soon at http:\\members.aol.com\Zeeuw\Rockville.htm
I never did meet Charlie again but I saw him perform once more during one of
the early Memphis Music Heritage Festivals. He put on his usual solid
rockabilly performance with lots of driving guitar work, slapping bass and
that unique vocal style. Yes, Charlie Feathers was an original and he will be
missed by rockabilly fans the world over. The name Charlie Feathers is forever
connected with true original rockabilly music.
We rockabilly fans will always Forget to Remember to Forget Charlie Feathers!
I like most was saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie Feathers. Now, with
his death Charlie will become a legend. This is great and at the same time disturbing
because to me Charlie became a legend in 1955 the problem is he never got what he
deserved when he was alive. Sure we have all heard how Charlie told stories over
the years of how he taught Elvis this or that and most of the time the stories
were taken with a grain of salt, but nobody and I mean NOBODY ever denied them.
Now with the passing of Charlie the only two men who know the truth to those stories
are now gone. Charlie Feathers music was pure and sincere. Charlie Feathers was
rockabilly. Charlie Feathers is music history. Sam Phillips should have given him
his shot but gave up on him. I never gave up on Charlie and neither did anybody who
truly loves music from the heart. Rest in peace Charlie!! Thanks for the music!!
Dear Rosemary and family of Charlie, we are very sad to hear that Charlie has
left us. We had the chance to meet him for an interview last September at your
house in Memphis and we were very impressed by him and thankful to have the
chance to talk to the man that made rockabilly happen. Only the ones who are
forgotten are really dead - Charlie will NEVER die, he will live thru his
music. With all our respect,
Gerd & Angie Gummlich
Sorry to hear about Charlie's death, a sad blow to all rockers everywhere - a
truly great rockabilly cat!
Rockin' Johnny Lee (U.K.)
I just got the word today Sunday, September 6th about the death of Charlie
Feathers. I am saddened by the passing of one of the greatest
singer/songwriters in rockabilly and popular music in general.
One night I was drinking some Beam and I decided I would call the great
Charlie Feathers and have a talk with him. I have a Memphis phone book and
knew his name was listed (thank God for Memphis). I called about doing an on
air interview on WDBX community radio here in Carbondale, Illinois. I found
out he was living with his son and soon was talking to Charlie about his past,
present and future. The conversation we had lasted about a half and hour and
included a couple of his more famous stories. Charlie first told me he wasn't
too happy with his latest recording and wanted to record with better
musicians. I had the biggest smile on my face while listening to one of my
heroes tell me the tales of teaching Elvis the "hiccup" technique and how he
was excited about going to Sam's Town to do some more gambling soon. I heard
that he could be a mean cat to people, but I didn't get any of those vibes
when I talked to him. He seemed glad to be talking to one of his fans and to
be telling his stories. I got the feeling he trusted his fans a lot more than
the music industry slime that ripped him off over the years.
When I hear the honky tonk mastery of "Defrost Your Heart" I feeling
something rivaled by few songs. When I hear "One Hand Loose" I want to get
down and shake the mutha humpin' shack and pop open a cold one. Charlie
Feather IS Rockabilly music. I wish to express my condolences to Charlie's
I can pay Charlie Feathers no greater compliment than to say that he was an
individualist in his life and in his music. No one sang like him or played
like him, and no one ever did a better job of staying true to that which he
believed in, his music.
When I was in Memphis in 1996 I called his house, hoping to have an opprtunity
to meet him. Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling well, but I chatted with
Rosemary for a few minutes and was impressed by her graciousness and her
obvious love for Charlie.
My heartfelt condolences to Rosemary and to all of
Charlie's family. The music world will never have another like him.
Byron Sondergard, Metuchen, New Jersey
I have known of Charlie Feathers for twelve, thirteen years, but only came
in direct contact with his music on August 22,1998, when I purchased
"Rock-A-Billy" on ZuZazz. I'm from the Stones meets Sex Pistols generation,
so at first the haunting quality of his country sides threw me off, because
I wanted to hear more Rock and less billy. However, there was something
eery and mysterious in that voice that reminded me of the first time I
heard Bob Dylan, and I kept listening and listening. In my car. On my
headphones. In my garage. Last nite I purchased "Get With It" and "God
Knows I Tried" by Junior Kimbrough. I turn on the internet and find that he
passed away on August 29. Today, on Sept. 5, around noon Dallas time, I
told my wife that I was going to drive by Charlie's house and say hello,
next time I was in Memphis. I haven't cried this much since my grandfather
died in 67. Charlie Feathers, I keep thinking that Junior's death had
something to do with yours, in my 41 year old rock and roll brain. The Lord
works in such damned strange ways. I just hope that " I've Been Deceived"
and you're on that front porch the next time I'm in Feathers country. But
alas... Your music has blessed us all. Blessings and condolences to the
Chris Davis Dallas, Texas
I visited Charlie in Aug 75. We'd never met, but when I phoned him the
day before, he seemed happy to talk and invited me over to see him. He
was taking a break fron painting his house when I drove up. Yeah, he was
sittin on the porch when I first saw him.
We talked about his records and his ideas of what was rockabilly and his
approach and mastery of it. His attitude toward Sam Phillips was not
legendary at that time but I accepted it unquestionably, knowing Charlie
didn't get his due at Sun. He spoke of his teaching Elvis the
arrangement of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" on through to lost opportunities
and even thwarted hopes with Sam. He knew I was writing songs and after
a while he proposed that I finish a song he started but didn't want to
put his name on. He had the tag line and I was to write the verses and a
bridge. He said he'd give me the tag if I wrote the rest. Bloody fuckin'
ell, Charlie Feathers wants me to be his co-writer! And it's a song
about Sam Phillips! But here's the tag and here is the problem. The tag
(hook): "I'm gonna take a switch, to that son of a hick, down on Union
Seven-o-six". I thought this was a great line with the twist on Union 76
Truck Stops and the old fashioned touch and rhyme of "switch" and
"hick". What a gem to build a song around. The problem: How to write the
song with some humor. And if I did write it, there was only one person
in the world who could sing it! And he gave it to me because he didn't
want to be associated with it!
Though I wrote several prototypes of "Union Seven-o-six", they didn't
work and I never discussed it with Charlie again.
Thinking about my afternoon with Charlie, I remember that he was tough
on Sam but he was a fatalist and the tone of his remarks about Sam were
not bitter. If you consider the genius of Charlie's records after Sun
you know that his legacy is secure even if he had no connection with
Sun. Oh, but what he told me about erased tapes and the masters Sam
"hid" from him....
"I'm gonna take a switch to that son of a hick, down on Union
I loved Charlie Feathers after the first record I heard of his. I've
loved him ever since. I love him now.
My band The Brewers played a date with Feathers in Boston back in
1989(?) representing Memphis music for some festival. Feathers had an
elec. guitar, bass, and snare drum playing with him. Just like his blues
counterparts, he meticulously complained and bitched for over an hour at
his sound check. He wouldn't talk to us at all. But he had those
Yankees by their balls during his set.
Saw Him at Caster Rock n Roll weekend back in the 80's with his son. My best
wishes to all and the music will never die. hose as closely involved in
Rock n Rolls roots will live forever as long as the music is played.
Sept. 2, 1998 - It is sad that Charlie is gone but I think it is up to us to keep his music
and spirit alive!
What a sad day. I just got back from Charlie Feathers' funeral. As I first
walked into the
church Charlie's music was playing. That gave me chills. There were about
300 people there (mostly family).
He looked real good but not like I know him. The service was nice. The
songs they played during the service was Vince Gills' "Go Rest High on That
Mountain" and "On The Wings Of a Snow White Dove" I'm not in to country too
much but when they played Vince Gill as everyone was quiet, it was pretty
I put together a book for Charlies wife (Rosemary) and gave it to her. In
the book was all of the e-mails from this list about him and Web site info
about Charlie. So to everyone who wrote about Charlie on this list the past
couple of weeks the family has it. She told me to tell everyone "I
appreciate all the kind things everyone has said and done for us" She told
me to still come visit her when I can and I told her I definately would.
Charlie was the King of Rockabilly. His records got played over and
over again by me and still do. He was a total inspiration to me. He
never sold out. He was the real deal! I won't forget you Charlie!
Vinyl Japan UK Ltd
The passing of Charlie was such a great loss. Though I never met him or
seen him perform, he "gets it" quite often in this house. Man, such a
purist. Such heart-felt emotion in each side. Yeah, he was a great
one-overlooked by some and admired by many. An icon, whose influence will
be felt for generations of the many who appreciate the REAL stuff.
Let my "One Hand Loose" to Get the Bottle to the Baby" because I "Can't
Hardy Stand It". Charlie may have left this crazy planet to let other
worlds taste his mix, but we'll keep rockin' with the goods he left behind.
Rock on Charlie, you'll never be forgotten.
(Ken and Michelle Kitt)
I don't suppose I have that many regrets in life but one would certainly
be losing touch with Charlie and his family.
In 1967 Breathless Dan in the UK played me "Tongue Tied Jill" and I was
While Dan was careful not to give out an address for Charlie he did
forward a holiday card. I was delighted when I received one back. In the
summer of 1969 I visited the US and worked in Nashville. By then I had
Charlie's Memphis address and if my memory is not too far gone I think
it was something like 1844 Chester...maybe not!! Towards the end of that
summer I made a trip to Memphis and after figuring out the street system
ended up at Charlie's house. He was a little suprised at someone
turning up out of the blue but asked me whether I liked watermelon! I
ended up staying with Charlie and his family for four days and remember
them as some of the best times I have ever spent! We spent time at
Select O Hits and at local recording studios as well as at a drag car
race in Mississippi. I have this treasured photo of Charlie, me and
Wayne McGuinness. At the time Charlie was not playing music too much,
though Breathless Dan had, (or was about to) recorded him. By 1973 he
was back playing in clubs and it was great to see him back playing. His
brother used to work the door and the few times I turned up with other
UK friends (including one time Martin Hawkins) we would enjoy great
hospitality and good music.
Bubba was just a young guitar player then! I visited Charlie and his
family off and on the next few years but then, as life sometimes does,
my life settled down up in East Tennessee and I did not get to Memphis
that much. I last saw Charlie in 1981 a few years before I moved to
This note comes with a lot of memories and with love to Rosemary, Bubba,
Wanda and Ricky: they were about as welcoming to a young Brit as you
could ever hope anyone would be and I have though a lot about them in
the years since. Charlie's music will always be around; he was a nice
man indeed with a great family. So my moral is: don't let good people
slip out of your life...sometimes it is too late to get them back in.
Sept. 1, 1998 - They buried Charlie Feathers today.
The world got a little bit darker, the
heavens a little brighter. An important person passed from contemporary
culture into history. I just wanted to riff a little on WHY people like
Charlie are important, why we should be thankful for what they have
contributed to our lives.
I am a big fan of rockabilly music, I have been for all of my 31 years. It
just seems to be the one kind of music that really touches a nerve in me. I
know that at the time it wasn't really called "rockabilly", that people
came up with tags like hillbilly rock or country boogie, but "rockabilly"
seems to be as good a name as any for that bass-heavy, stomping blend of
country with blues rhythm. It is simple, good-time music that ages well,
that continues to give joy to young and old people almost 50 years after
If you look up 'Rockabilly' in a dictionary it says 'see Charlie Feathers'.
OK, it doesn't but perhaps it should do. Of all of the many artists who
turned a hand to this mid-fifties fad, Charlie Feathers ranks highly in the
pantheon of those who shaped early rock music. I grew up on songs like
Tongue Tied Jill and Why Don't You, and now I can look forward to growing
old with them.
They were just basic, good time songs for teen-agers. It was never meant
to be anything important or earth-shattering, just pop music for the
masses. But every adolescent has stood before their parents and said "This
is important. I believe in this. It will change the world." Every young
person before or since has been mostly wrong. They haven't changed the
world or life as we know it. The planet has kept turning with or without
the benefit of the kids little passions.
There was one important difference with the earliest exponents of rock
music. Men (almost all of them were men) such as Carl Perkins, Jackie Lee
Cochran, Sam Philips and Charlie Feathers really DID change the world.
Rocknroll was the biggest shake-up in music, that most primal of arts, in
hundreds of years. The echoes of the rockabilly explosion can still be
heard in all forms of music, in all forms of CULTURE, today. It will
continue to be heard for hundreds of years yet. Now, that is an achievement
that Charlie's family can be proud of.
Imagine, if you can, what the world would have been like without those
musical pioneers. If popular music never got any wilder than Perry Como, if
the emerging post-war adolescent demographic hadn't had music as their
rallying point. Charlie and people of his ilk changed the world, they
altered human history. The music they made continues to inspire people to
the point where it has an almost disproportionate affect upon their lives.
I met Charlie once, over a decade ago, after a gig here in the UK. When I
got to talk to him, tried to tell him how much I admired him and his music,
it all came out in a babble of tongue-tied gibberish. I was so gushing and
effusive that a security guard had to gently lead me away. To Mr Feathers I
was an awkward, slightly drunk teenager who he was glad to get rid of, I
guess. That moment stands as perhaps the single most excruciating and
embarrassing of my life. Now, a little too late, I can articulate why his
music matters to me.
Today the world got a little bit darker, the heavens a little brighter...
Bill Smoker, London
The stories about
Charlie Feathers remind me of some of the true characters I ran into
while doing field recordings of traditional music around here (and
rockabilly wasn't that far away!).
When a major artist, particularly someone like Feathers who has more of
an oral history and legend than a written one, it make me think (anyway)
that we should be more aggressive in documenting the lesser known
players, even casual players from those times. Once they're gone,
they're gone forever.
A lot of hillbilly folks played some rock 'n' roll. Doc Watson was
discovered when he was playing electric guitar, not the old traditional
ballads. Around here, I hear Weldon Turner and Delmore Brown playing in
the back room of the barber shop...they'll pick mostly standard country
and then some bluegrass (still using electric instruments!), and then
will do a pretty straight foward RAB song, still calling it
country....and then I remember...they were 14 -15 years old in 1956,
living in Tennessee...
I guess I have a challenge. Either by yourself,
or using your kid's school for a project, talking a grad student into a
project, or whomever by however, let us all make an effort to find just
one person in our community that played the music then and can tell
about.....hell, maybe even play a few licks ... and document for the
Charlie Feathers is known for the documentation and legends surrounding
him as much as his music (many folks first heard of his legend and
influence before they actually heard one of his recordings...and he had
great variation in what one could possibly hear first!)
I have been a Charlie Feathers fan since I first heard "One hand loose".
Since then, I have picked up any cd/tape/record with his name on it.
"Defrost your heart" is one of the most beautiful and moving songs of all
time. One saturday in 1992, on a whim, I called him. I was afraid he
would tell me to get lost and hang up. He didn't. He was a perfect
gentleman. I have enjoyed many such conversations since then. While
vacationing earlier this year, my boys and I took a side trip to Memphis
and had the pleasure of meeting Charlie. We sat on his front porch with
him and visited for about an hour. It was an experience we will never
Our condolences to Rosemary, Wanda, Bubba and Ricky.
Matt, Chabela, John, J. Morgan and Zack Stewart
My dad went to Charlies house 5:30 this morning (Aug. 31st). I can't believe this
happened. We were just there with Charlie eating supper, taking pictures,
and talking a few weeks ago. Charlie and I always had a great relationship
also, he always asked me about my husband and son. He wanted me to bring
them down in September but ... I am really upset about this. I will be
going to the funeral Tuesday and staying at Phylis Presleys house. She
lives behind Graceland. Anyway I will let you know what happened when I get
back. Sorry to ramble He was just such a major person in our lives...at
least mine anyways because we didn't always talk just about music we talked
about baseball, racing and all kinds of stuff I sure will miss him as a good
Well growing up, I can say that one of my father's favorite RAB artists was
Charlie Feathers. When I was in HS my dad use to come into my room
screaming at the type of rockabilly I was playing (often bordering on
Psychobilly ie: Guana Batz, The Sharks, Restless, Blue Cats etc...). He use
to say "this crap isn't rockabilly-ROCKABILLY IS CHARLIE FEATHERS."
When I was 15 or 16 I went to the benefit that Billy Poore did in Bathesda
MD for Charlie. I remember when he (Charlie) walked out on to the stage,
sat down in his chair and belted out Tongue Tied Jill and Bottle to the
Baby as well as others, I was floor'd. See at the time, old rockabilly
wasn't cool. It was what my dad listened to. People were going nuts in
front of the stage. I got to meet him back stage after the show. He signed
his name to my poster and autograph book (at that time I was getting
everyone's, autograph I went to see if I could.) Now half the names in
that autograph book are gone... Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, DJ Fontana,
Charlie Feathers, Danny Gaton, Daron Spears...It's really sad. I had heard
that Charlie could only sign his name. He couldn't read nor write.
We (friends and I) were talking about how we get to see the original acts
still (while they are still playing), our kids on the other hand will be
going to see bands like the Rockats and Crazy Caven as old acts. Makes ya
"I Will Never Remember To Forget Charlie Feathers"
"Thanks for the front porch talks"
Your Rockabilly Friend...
LesLee Bird Anderson
ED. NOTE: Sun., Aug. 30th - Kim Lenz, upon hearing of the passing of
Charlie, dedicated her entire show at Automatic Slim's in Neenah, Wisconsin to
him. Kim informed the audience of Charlie's many contributions and
mentioned his name often throughout the evening.
I got a chance to meet and hang out with Charlie during my last two
trips to Memphis. Just as Deke described, he was sitting on his porch
chewing tobacco and spitting it in to a coffee can. (as well as poking
the dirt with his walking cane.) He was pretty amazing to talk with.
Both times we sat for 2-3 hours talking with Charlie about everything
from his recordings at SUN/Flip, Meteor, King, Etc. to the best place
to get REAL fried chicken. Admittedly, some of tales were extremely
tall, but that was half the fun. I think Charlie got a kick out of
seeing how far he could string people along with wild stories.
Having met a small handful of 50' s rockers I must say that Charlie was
the REAL DEAL. He spoke in of "rockabilly" as any of us would, casual,
normal conversations. A lot of other 50's guys always seem a little
lost and bewildered with "rockabilly". Not Charlie, he WAS rockabilly.
Now he is gone. I am thankful I got to meet and spend time with someone
as cool as Charlie Feathers.
Going back to Memphis will never be the same ...
I never got a chance to speak with Charlie, so no cool stories about
chewing tabbacco and tall tales... I never got a chance to see Charlie
live, so I can't tell you about how he rocked and still had as a great
voice as he did in the 50's. All I have is a handfull of 45s and a deep awe
of the artist who recorded them. No other artist in the Genre of music we
call rockabilly so personified the term. Certain Female, one hand loose,
etc. will forever live on.
We'll miss you charlie, but will always be reminded of you through your music.
The Loomis Group
I got the chance to hang out with Charlie on that very front porch in
1993. He told stories that made us laugh, and raise our eyebrows at the
same time.Upon our departure I shook his hand and said "Charlie, don't
take this the wrong way because I say the same thing about my mamma, but
you're nuts." He clinched my hand tighter and pulled me closer to him
and said with a smile "That's right boy, and don't you ever forget it".
I doubt I ever will.
Everybody play "One Hand Loose" at your gigs this week.
Don't worry, he'll hear it.
It saddens me to hear of Charlie Feathers' passing. No matter what style of
music he recorded, rock'n'roll, blues, country or folk, it was always
Charlie Feathers. He was a top-notch artist when it came to expressing
human emotions, and communicating them to listeners so that we could really
FEEL what he was singing and playing. Never got to meet him, but I'll
always appreciate his records to no end. Best wishes to the Feathers family.
Charlie left this world way to soon. We'll miss Charlie not because he
was a legend in rockabilly but because he was our close friend. Our
prayers go out to Rosemary, Bubba,
Ricky, Wanda and the rest of the family. Every time I call looking for
Ricky I'll be expecting Charlie to answer and give me the usual
run-around. I am lucky to have known Charlie Feathers.
Kenny and Margaret Cole
I am so sorry to hear about Charlie Feathers, And I want to please
tell his family how bad that I feel.
But he will be back soon so please tell them that, and he can play
and sing then for ever. right here on this earth.
Your friend always,
Jerry Lee Merritt
The world lost a very good singer, and we lost a very good friend.
Charlie has been a friend of my family for over 43 years. My brother
(Travis Wammack ) went on a lot of show-dates around the Memphis Tn.
area when he was only 10 years old. Charlie would have been a lot more
famous if he had not been so trusting. He had been in bad health for a
number of years. Our prayers go out to his wife, Rosmary and his
children ,Bubba, Wanda and Ricky. We are so sorry and sad.
Shirley Scott, Travis Wammack,
Mrs P.N. Wammack, Neal Wammack, Joy Stafford,
Joe Wammack and Bill Wammack
Man, I can't believe old Charlie is gone.
Just last summer, when I was out on the road with the Sprague Brothers, Jim
Cole took Shorty & I over to Charlie's house. We pulled up, & there he
was, just sitting on the porch chewing tobacco & spitting into a coffee
can. We talked to him for a couple hours, got some pictures with him, and
an autograph. I got to ask him a few questions about how they discovered
the slap-back echo at Sun and also about recording Jungle Fever at the
Chicsa Hotel where Dewey Phillips had his radio show. And now he's gone!!
I'm especially bummed out because I really wanted to record a decent record
of him. I know with my recording equipment we could have made a hell of a
great record just in the living room of his house. He told us he'd record
for anybody for a thousand bucks a song and I was trying to find a way to
finance it...but time has a way of running out!
Tongue Tied Jill--Get With It--Jungle Fever--One Hand Loose--Bottle to the
Baby--I've Been Deceived--That Certain Female--them's a lot of freakin'
great songs!!! RIP Charlie.
Can't believe that the King of Rockabilly is gone. I've been collecting his
records 20 years now, I never got to change to see him play alive, and
now's too late. He may told tlae stories, but he surely knew how to make
rockabilly right. He was a true genius and the legacy will live forever.
Rest in Peace Charlie.
What a loss. He contributed so much. We have so many things that will
keep him with us forever. I am glad that I was privileged to know of him
and to have his songs in our hearts and home. I'll put on some of his
old stuff now and enjoy the many sounds of Charlie Feathers. Heaven is
certainly getting full of some fabulous musician's. With an angel choir
for backup, we all ought to really "have a time" when it's our turn.
May Elizabeth Crouse
Las Vegas, NV
This is sad, first Carl and now Charlie. IMO, Carl's Sun 45's and Charlie's
King 45's are the best description of rockabilly music. He was an
interesting character and continued to record rockabilly during the dark
60's. The stories he told on several interviews were great even tho' it
wasn't always true. I've been collecting his records for 20 years, all of
his later records are not my all-time favorites, but those 7" records on
Meteor, King & Kay are superb.
I remember when I first bought King-Federal Rockabillys compilation LP and
Rockabilly Kings by Charlie Feathers & Mac Curtis. The latter album was one
of the most important reissues of early 70's - a real masterpiece.
I'm also glad that Reverant records managed to put out that double CD by
Charlie, just before he died. It is the best tribute he can get, some
recognition in America. It's an excellent compilation of Charlie's
recordings from 1954 to 1969. Nothing new that hardcore collectors don't
have already, but it's nice to have all on legal CD.
As Charlie said: "Some tough goddamn stuff. Damn sure is."
So, buy that CD, if you don't have it already. You'll find the tracks from
np. "One Hand Loose"
I heard only this morning that Charlie left this world last night.
From what his son Ricky described, Charlie probably left this world Tuesday
night when he had his stroke. He was in the spot he enjoyed quite frequently
with many of his fans, friends & family - his front porch. I'm gonna miss
driving by his house and waving to him. I'm gonna miss his phone calls to
WEVL whenever any of us played one of his songs. He always called to say
"Thank you for playing my music!" Of course we would thank him for his
contribution to the music world!
Whenever something like this happens, this always comes to mind:
"If you believe in forever, then life is just a one night stand.
If there's a rock'n'roll heaven, you know they got a hell of a band!"
To Charlie - I dedicate Tuesday's show!
I was a first time visitor to Memphis in the summer of '75. Because of
Eddie Bond, I found out about a Charlie Feathers gig. This was a real
sleazy juke joint, with local drunks and two rockabilly collectors from
Holland, besides myself. The band, including Bubba and Wanda Feathers,
was on stage, but Charlie didn't show up until late. He looked great,
but was plannin' to do any singing, but since we were three European
fans present, he said he would do some shows. I asked for his permission
to tape it, and being a much bootlegged artist, I feared he would say
no, but he didn't. He was real nice, and put on a good rockin' show for
the few people present.
Charlie had a style of his own! You could always recongnize that
Feathers sound, he was an original, and he has left us with a lot of
I attended the record collectors' convention in Lawrence, Kansas, today. The
buzz was that Charlie Feathers had died. I bought a copy of Charlie's 2 CD
compilation on Revenant (#209, "Get With It; Essential Recordings 1954-1969")
just a week ago. This is really great stuff. Be sure to see the display on
Charlie at the Memphis Music Museum. We will play Charlie Feathers music on
Friday evenings on "The Red, Hot, and Blue Rock 'n' Rhythm Revue" on "Oldies
102.9fm", KQTP, Topeka, Kansas. With "One Hand Loose", I am, Mark "Daddy-o
Dilly" Dillman - DADDYODILL@aol.com
Your records are some of the finest Rockabilly-pieces ever to be cut on wax.
You left a spot in Rockabilly History that nobody will ever be able to fill.
The only light in this very sad moment comes from knowing that fans around
the world are spinning your records now, listening to your legacy and
remembering what they were doing when they first heard that record. A
Rockabilly genius that had far too little recognition in his home country
has left us - we're gonna miss you, Charlie ..... too bad we can't buy
records from Heaven, I'm sure you've got a lot more where what you recorded
down here came from !
Rest in peace Charlie Feathers, we're gonna miss you ...
Sven Adamski (Germany)
'Rebel' singer Charlie Feathers dies at 66
By Bill Ellis --
Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN - http://www.gomemphis.com/
Published Aug. 30th, 1998 - Memphis rockabilly singer Charlie Feathers died Saturday of complications following
a stroke. He was 66.
Feathers suffered a massive stroke Tuesday and was admitted to Saint Francis
Hospital, where he fell into a coma one day later, according to the hospital and family.
The four-decade career of Feathers, born near Holly Springs, Miss., was marked as
much by frustration as it was by revered recordings. His music, sporadically made
and mostly in the form of singles, was highly sought by rockabilly enthusiasts,
especially those in Europe and England.
Though he never garnered the popularity of Elvis Presley, Feathers - a witness and
participant in the birth of rock and roll - got his start like many rockabillies at Sun
Records, where he did demos of songs. Feathers recorded on Sun as a country singer
and produced two outstanding singles, Peepin' Eyes and I've Been Deceived in 1955
on subsidiary Flip; and the 1956 pair Defrost Your Heart and Wedding Gown of
White on Sun proper.
"There's no question that Charlie had talent," said Sun owner and producer Sam
Phillips. "The enthusiasm that came from Charlie really was his country feel for
things (rather than) rock and roll. Although he did some good things, I think we
missed in Charlie a real classic country singer."
Feathers also shared the songwriting credit with guitarist Stan Kesler on I Forgot to
Remember to Forget, which became Presley's last and biggest hit for Sun.
"His head was full of ideas," says Kesler. "He had all this music in him and he was
anxious to get it out."
Another Sun alumnus, Quinton Claunch, co-wrote most of Feathers's Sun sides with
fiddler Bill Cantrell and remembers Feathers for his creative singing.
"He just had a feel for a song," says Claunch. "He could really come up with those
melodies out of the blue. If anything, he was so diverse, we'd be working on a song and
everytime we'd get with him, he'd come up with something different."
When Feathers switched to rockabilly, the Sun sessions were unissued so he took his
new sound to Memphis label Meteor, where the regional hit Tongue-Tied Jill was
released; it remains the song for which he's most known. While a novelty tune,
Tongue-Tied Jill had all of Feathers's defining elements: a frenzied, hiccup
mannerism; a sparse acoustic arrangement; slapback echo; and mostly, Feathers's
expressive, bluegrass-built voice.
The combination was enough for Cincinnati's King Records to sign Feathers in 1956.
There, he made a handful of classics, including One Hand Loose, Bottle to the Baby
and Can't Hardly Stand It.
Feathers wasn't happy with how the sides were produced, however, and the two soon
parted ways. It was a recurring theme in his mercurial label stints.
"You didn't have to worry about what Charlie thought," says Claunch.
"He'd tell you."
By the 1960s, Feathers found himself an unrepentant rockabilly in a rock and roll
world. In a recent interview in The Commercial Appeal, he reaffirmed his conviction
to the older musical form.
"I'm a rebel but I don't give a damn," he said. "I'm independent and I'm going to stay
Such dogged self-determination wasn't good for hits, but in later years it did inspire
rockabilly fans who could count on the real thing from Feathers. It also inspired
Memphis rock acts like Tav Falco's Panther Burns and '68 Comeback.
"When everybody else moved on - when rockabilly was over in '58 - he never gave
up on it," says '68 Comeback leader Jeff Evans, who had considered writing a
Feathers biography. "He kept driving it into the ground ... You couldn't even
understand it, the words. And the exaggeration, the echo, the stuttering.
It's all pretty
Though Feathers's commercial career was all but finished by 1963, he continued to
make music and record. From the late '60s, his band always included son Bubba on
guitar. England's rockabilly revival in the '70s brought Feathers out of obscurity,
and his music was released on numerous European labels. He made a 1991 album for
Elektra Nonesuch, and a double-CD re-issue of his classic '50s and '60s recordings,
"Get With It," was released nationally last month on the Revenant label. Many pieces
have been written about Feathers, including a famous essay by Peter Guralnick in his
book Lost Highway.
Feathers had a long history of poor health and suffered since the '50s from a variety
of illnesses including spinal meningitis, diabetes, lung cancer and heart disease (he
had had three bypasses).
"He didn't care if you liked him," says Robert Morris, who played drums with
Feathers in the '70s. "He didn't care because the music was important. That's what
made Charlie special: the music."
Feathers is survived by wife Rosemary, daughter Wanda Vanzant, sons Charles
`Bubba' Feathers Jr. and Ricky Feathers.
The funeral will be 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Holly Springs Funeral Home Chapel;
visitation is at 3:30 p.m. today.
To reach reporter Bill Ellis, call 529-2517 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Forgettin' to Remember to Forget
A small sample of what you'll find on Charlie in Billy Poore's book.
In the fall of 1979, Charlie Feathers had two album releases on the Feathers label.
I get a package in the mail from Charlie; I open it up, and there's two new albums
in there, and no explanation. The albums were gatefold albums. They were called Charlie
Feathers Volume 1 and Charlie Feather Volume 2. I personally only cared about
the music on the albums, so the first thing I did was play 'em. Inside the
albums there were some liner notes in Charlie's own words, but in each of these
albums, on both sides of the gatefold, they were mostly covered with old photos
from Charlie Feathers career.
I had the albums for about a week and then called Charlie. He wasn't home the day
I called. His wife, Rosemary, answered the phone. I thanked her for sending me the
albums and told her they were great. She said, "What did you think of the picture
inside?" I said, "What picture?" She said, "The picture from a years back."
Again I said, "What?² "She said, "There was a picture of you sent Charlie of the
first time you all met, of you and Charlie, and he insisted on using it in the Volume
2 of the two albums." When I got off the phone, I sat down and looked at every
single photo, and there were approximately a dozen in each album, and every single
photo in these two albums was a picture of Charlie with musicians he had worked with
or of Charlie and his immediate family, exept for one, and that one was the first
picture ever taken of me and Charlie, at the Phoenix Club in Memphis in 1974, in
front of the jukebox. Rosemary explained later that Charlie insisted on using it
because I was his biggest fan. That was a real honor to me.