Charlie Walker, one of country music’s best-loved disc
jockeys, a respected purveyor of shuffle-beat honky tonk and 40-year
member of the Grand Ole Opry, died this morning in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Mr. Walker was 81, and had been diagnosed recently with colon cancer.
Mr. Walker, born in Copeville, Texas, joined the Opry’s ranks in 1967,
after establishing himself as a vastly respected country DJ with KMAC
in San Antonio, starting in 1951. Walker recorded for Decca Records in
the mid-’50s, and later earned his first big hit while part of the Columbia
Records roster: 1958’s “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” one of the first songs
written by Harlan Howard to become a country standard.
Mr. Walker maintained his performing career alongside his radio career,
earning several other honky-tonk hits (“Who Will Buy the Wine”
and “Wild as a Wildcat” among them) along the way. He similarly
maintained his commitment to the Opry, performing there consistently up
through this year.
“The Grand Ole Opry family will miss our friend and Opry member,
Charlie Walker,” Opry vice president and general manager Pete
Fisher said in a statement. “We are truly grateful for all of the
musical moments he has shared with us on the Opry stage and over the
airwaves as a disc jockey. We will dedicate this weekend’s Opry shows
to his memory.”
Mr. Walker is survived by his wife Connie and 10 children: Ronnie,
Cindy, Arthur, Charlie III, Elissa, Charlene, Catherine, Christina,
Caroline and Charlton; along with 15 grandchildren; three step-grandchildren;
and one great-grandchild.
Visitation and funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
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