Remembering Charlie Feathers

Charlie passed Away August 29th, 1998, Memphis, TN

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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
Holmes Road

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.
    Katie O'Hare

    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.
    Billy Dumpleton
    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 -

    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 best!

    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.
    Billy Sipes

    Your memory lives in my heart. Your music, it's my life. Good bye my best friend.


    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.
    Duke Beasley
    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 -

    I had written A previous entry on this page a few months ago as a tribute to Charlie, 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 sound 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!
    Tim Booher
    Bristol, TN
    August 8,1999

    I am 23 years old and I want to consider myself a true fan of roots music as well as all types of musical genres. Sadly I never got the chance to meet or talk to Charlie in his life. I guess I' was a little bit of a late bloomer when it came to Charlie and his music, but hearing it, especially the King Records cuts from 1956 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 90's who hadn't sold his integrity to Nashville or given up on what he really wanted for the sake of hit records and glitter. Charlie will forever be a model to both young rockabilly singers and rockers of all types as a man who never let chart statistics and the everchanging tides of history change his vision or his mind.Rockabilly wasn't 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.

    Subject: Bubba
    Bubba Feathers, for my money, is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Carry on the tradition.
    Chris Davis,
    Dallas Texas

    (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,
    Ulf Nilsson,
    Malmo, Sweden

    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 reply.
    I am a fan forever,respectfully,
    Charlie Douglas
    (PS my email address is

    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!
    "Larry McVay"

    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
    Blues Brothers

    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.

    Johnny Vallis
    Web site

    In RAB Heaven...
    One of best Hillbilly & Rockabilly Artists is gone.
    We'll never forget him.
    Peepin' Eyes looking at you,
    Tomcat from
    Berlin, Germany

    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.
    Phil Davies,
    Neath, South Wales

    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:\\\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!

    Adri Sturm

    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!!
    Mike DiGangi

    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
    Radio Ungawa
    Hamburg, Germany

    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 family.

    Devin Miller

    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 Feathers' family.

    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 Seven-o-six"
    I loved Charlie Feathers after the first record I heard of his. I've loved him ever since. I love him now.

    Jim Kirk
    Easton, Pa

    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.

    Roy Brewer

    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.

    Mike Parker

    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 sad.

    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! Lois.

    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 hooked. 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 California.

    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.

    John Pearson

    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 its creation. 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 future. 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!)

    -Ron Williams

    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 forget.

    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 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 friend....

    Stacy (Poore)

    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 wonder huh?

    Jennie Soto
    Newark, NJ

    "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 ...

    Steve Merritt

    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.

    Jose Espinosa
    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.

    Blacktop Rockets

    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.

    Craig Maki

    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.

    Deke Dickerson

    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.

    Markku Salo

    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 Charlie's discography.

    Charlie R.I.P.

    np. "One Hand Loose"

    Tapio Vaisanen
    Vantaa, Finland

    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!

    Brian (

    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 great music!

    Rune Halland,
    Oslo, Norway

    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 -

    Dear Charlie!

    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 -

    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 that way."

    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 amazing."

    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

    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.

    Billy Poore