Orlando, Florida, USA – Around 6:30 yesterday evening Charlie Waller
was found motionless in his garden by his wife. He passed away just prior to
leaving for several tour dates. His son Randy believes that his death was due to
a heart attack.
Since starting the Country Gentlemen in 1957, Charlie has recorded countless
Bluegrass hits and has earned a place in the Bluegrass Hall of Honor. Beginning
his professional career in Washington, DC in local bars at the age of 13,
Charlie quickly progressed into larger venues during his teenage years. From
there, Charlie left DC for Baltimore to perform with Earl Taylor. He then met
Buzz Busby who was looking for a guitar player and singer. Charlie quickly
landed that job and was with Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys for two years before
a twist of fate occurred.After a life-threatening automobile accident involving most of the Bayou Boys,
Charlie was asked to join a band to fill in for the dates the Bayou Boys would
miss while recovering. Charlie was then united with the original or “classic”
Country Gentlemen: Larry Lahey (bass), John Duffey (mandolin), Bill Emerson
(banjo) and Charlie (guitar and lead vocals). They immediately realized they had
something special and knew they had to keep it going. On July 4, 1957, The
Country Gentlemen were formed.
For over 45 years many well known artists, such as Tom Gray, Porter Church,
Eddie Adcock, Doyle Lawson, Mike Lilly, Ricky Skaggs, and Bill Yates, to name a
few, have performed as Country Gentlemen. Together, these members have received
innumerable award nominations, garnered nearly 70 prestigious industry awards,
and the “classic” Country Gentlemen were inducted into the International
Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Hall of Honor in 1996. Throughout the years
this group of personnel has recorded nearly 40 albums and provided us with many
classic songs, which have enhanced the traditional bluegrass sound and
repertoire. The latest lineup, which Charlie said, “It’s the best sounding band
I’ve had,” consists of Greg Corbett (banjo), Darin Aldridge (mandolin, lead and
rhythm guitar), Randy Waller (lead and rhythm guitar) and Billy Gee (bass) ~ all
sure to be future legends.
Waller’s final album entitled Songs of the American Spirit is still set
to be released next Tuesday, August 24, 2004. Contributing to the album are,
Greg Corbett, Darin Aldridge, Randy Waller, Les Deaton, and Ronnie Davis. Along
with the album, County Standard Time will be running Charlie’s final interview
in their upcoming issue.
Rick Bell, a writer for Country Standard Time, conducted an interview with Mr.
Waller just hours before his death on Aug. 18. Bell is preparing to write an
in-depth story for the magazine’s September issue to coincide with the release
of the new Country Gentlemen album on Pinecastle Records, Songs of the
American Spirit. Bell related how Mr. Waller also discussed his son Randy’s
budding career, and praised the song Randy wrote about the prized Martin guitar
his father had handed down to him. Mr. Waller also offered his thoughts on
hanging out backstage with Elvis Presley when both were members of the Louisiana
Hayride, and how the Kingston Trio admired the music of the Country Gentlemen.
Charlie helped define bluegrass singing and proved that he was one of the
greatest the genre has ever seen. As member of the Bluegrass Hall of Honor,
Charlie is recognized worldwide by the entire Bluegrass listening community. "On
behalf of Pinecastle Records we express our deepest sympathy to the numerous
fans, friends, and family of Charlie. Please his family in your thoughts and
prayers as we all mourn the death of a true bluegrass music legend."
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.