Charlie Louvin died today at the age of 83 from complications of pancreatic cancer. One of the true legends of the golden age of country music, along with his late brother Ira, Charlie Louvin continued to record well after his brother’s death. The influence of his body of work, both with his brother as the Louvin Brothers and without, is immeasurable. The Cosmic Americana movement of the late 60s and 70s and the alt-country movement of the early-80s through late 90s would not have been the same without his work as a guide.
In an interview with Aquarium Drunkard in 2009 we asked Louvin what he thought his legacy would be:
“I hope that my legacy will be as a believable person. I’m a strong believer that you are not a better person than your word. If people can’t believe what you say, then you’re not much of a person. And so I’ve always strived to do that. If I tell you I’ll do something, you don’t need a contract. In today’s world, people want to go strictly on a contract. My brother and I worked for 25 years together and most of the time there was no contract. You wrote the information down, where you were supposed to be, and you were there. Most of the time we got paid. There were a few people who gave you that bad check, but that wasn’t a problem really in our career. We worked for pretty honest people. The world’s changed a lot now.”
Louvin was right – that particular mindset isn’t as common now a days, but it was obvious in my two encounters with Louvin – as an interviewer and as a concert audience member – that he was as professional, consummate and engaging a person and performer as could be asked for. They just don’t make ’em like Charlie Louvin anymore.
Charlie, tell Ira we said hi.