Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Louvin, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, spent the last six months of his life working on an autobiography.
As the Louvin Brothers, older sibling Ira and he wrote and recorded close harmony, hit singles such as “When I Stop Dreaming,” “Cash on the Barrelhead,” “If I Could Only Win Your Love” and “The Great Atomic Power.” They also released the classic album “Satan Is Real.” The Louvin Brothers’ music proved highly influential with alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and numerous others.
After about two decades together, Charlie and the heavy-drinking, hot tempered Ira split to pursue solo careers in 1963. Ira died two years later in a car crash after being shot by his third of four wives. Charlie Louvin continued to record and tour until his death. He collaborated with Elvis Costello and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on his 2007 self-titled album. It prompted a comeback that continued through Louvin’s recent release “The Battle Rages On.”
Before succumbing to pancreatic cancer last week, the country great completed his autobiography, coauthored by Benjamin Whitmer. Tentatively titled “Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers,” it will be released by the Harper Collins subsidiary Igniter Books as early as this summer, according to Louvin’s manager Brett Steele.
“Charlie’s work on the book is all done,” Steele said. “If the first chapter is any indication, it will be amazing.”
Steele, who’s based in Pinellas County, confirmed that Louvin doesn’t shy away from chronicling his brother’s wild ways.
“(Ira) stomped on some of the most expensive mandolins in the world, simply because it got out of tune,” Louvin told me in 2009. “He was what people call a ‘perfectionist.’ Maybe that’s why he didn’t fare too well.”
Despite a relationship often marked by acrimony, Charlie and Ira made some of the most enduring country music of all time. I look forward to reading about how it came to fruition.