Carnegie Hall and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame present “A Tribute to Charlie McCoy: A Celebration of the Harmonica” on Friday, Mar. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Carnegie Hall’s Hamilton Auditorium.
Some of West Virginia’s most-notable musicians will be on hand to put a spotlight on the Country Music Hall of Fame member.
There are numerous super-session musicians in Nashville, but very few with the longevity of Charlie McCoy. In addition to being a fixture in Nashville studios for 48 years, he also has his own recording career going full tilt. He has recorded 35 solo albums. He served as the music director for eighteen years for the syndicated television series “Hee Haw.”
Charlie McCoy began working sessions in the early ‘60s, one of the first being “Candy Man” by Roy Orbison. “Forty-nine dollars,” says Charlie. “That’s how much I was paid for that session back in 1961. It got Roy another hit and me a career. For a 20-year old to make $49 for three hours work back then, it was a dream.”
Shortly after the release of “Candy Man,” McCoy became one of the in-demand session players in Nashville. His session credits are a who’s who of country music. For a 15-year stretch, he did around 400 sessions a year, totaling more than 12,000. In the last 20 years, he has been touring more with many appearances in Europe and Japan.
In addition to country sessions, McCoy was a mainstay on Elvis Presley recordings, both in Nashville and Los Angeles. When Bob Dylan recorded “Highway 61,” “Blonde On Blonde,” “John Wesley Harding,” and “Nashville Skyline,” McCoy was there, playing on these land-mark recordings. He also played harmonica on Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” in addition to many hits from genres other than country music.
Charlie McCoy began recording for Monument Records in the late ‘60s and recorded 14 albums for the label, beginning with “The World Of Charlie McCoy.” He won the Grammy in 1972 for his album, “The Real McCoy.” He won CMA’s “Instrumentalist Of The Year” two times and the Academy Of Country Music’s “Specialty Instrument Award” seven times. He is a member of the “International Musician’s Hall Of Fame” and the “West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame.”
In addition to making his own recordings, Charlie was a member of a legendary recording band, “Area Code 615.” The band featured many of the top session players in Nashville.
While Charlie is predominately known as a harmonica player, his musical prowess encompasses other instruments including guitar, bass, mallet percussion, (vibes, marimba, bells, etc.), keyboards, and various wind instruments.
Charlie has toured in Europe and Japan regularly since 1989 and has released albums in France, Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic.
In addition to “Hee Haw,” Charlie served a music director for other television shows including “The Colgate Country Showdown” and “The Arthritus Telethon.” He was in the house band for the TNN show “Music City Tonight” with Crook and Chase.
Charlie was given the “Musician” award from the Reunion Of Professional Entertainers” in 1994. He was elected to the German-American Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1998, The Hall Of Fame of the North American Country Music Association International in 2000, the International Musicians’ Hall Of Fame and the Old Time Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2007, and the West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame in 2008.
On Feb. 4, 2009, McCoy was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, along with Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell.
An impressive cast of West Virginia musicians will be on hand to celebrate McCoy’s musical credits. Performers will include John Chic, Mark Bates, Larry Groce , Randy Gilkey, Bob McGraw with Wine and Roses, Annie Neeley, Susanna Robinson, Ron Sowell, The Carpenter Ants, and many more! Please note that Charlie McCoy will not be present.
The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame exhibit is located at Carnegie Hall and will be open before the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to the event are $15. For tickets or more information, please visit www.carnegiehallwv.org or call Carnegie Box Office at 304-645-7917, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Carnegie Hall is a nonprofit organization supported by individual contributions, grants, and fundraising efforts such as TOOT and The Carnegie Hall Gala. The Hall is located at 611 Church Street, Lewisburg, WV.