Thursday, January 27, 2011

Saying So Long to a son of Sand Mountain, Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin, born Charles Elzer Loudermilk on July 7, 1927, passed away yesterday, January 26, 2011. A native of Jackson County, Alabama, the furthest county in the Northeast of the state, the Louvin brothers (Ira and Charlie) began their career in Gospel music in the 1940s. Ira was killed in 1965 in an automobile accident, but not before releasing over a dozen albums. Charlie went on to a solo career that lasted the rest of his life, and the brothers are 2001 inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Charlie Louvin, and the Louvin Brothers will live on in their music, which to many transcended the religious messages. Oddly, they are most often remembered for their shocking 1959 album cover for Satan is Real. Widely considered one of the "worst" and "most iconic" album covers of all time, it features the Louvin brothers standing in front of a quarry in front of a giant plywood Devil, while hidden tires soaked in kerosene burn behind them as fire & brimstone.

Critic Scott Walden called the Louvins bluegrass music's Velvet Underground and said "their comprehension of the tortured throes of a drunkard's Satan-infested soul are no less profound than Lou Reed's own understanding of a heroin junkie wrestling with a world devoid of meaning beyond the piercing tip of the needle... The depth is there in Satan is Real. This album transcends the immediate kitsch appeal of its cover. There is a reason why songs from this album have been performed by the more commonly accepted genius of artists such Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris."

The Hoole Library does not have this album, but would welcome someone to donate it to the collections! (hint hint!)

Rest in Peace, Mr. Louvin.

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