Charlie Feathers Biography

Charles Arthur Feathers, 12 June 1932, Holly Springs, Mississippi, USA, d. 29 August 1998, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The work of rockabilly legend Feathers became more elevated during each revival of interest in the genre. Feathers was an enigmatic superstar, although in reality his influence totally overshadowed his commercial success. His upbringing on a farm, being taught guitar by a cotton-picking black bluesman and leaving home to work on an oilfield, gave Feathers a wealth of material for his compositions. In the early 50s, together with Jody Chastain (b. 1933, USA, d. 28 July 1999), and Jerry Huffman, he performed as the Musical Warriors. He was an early signing to Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. He recorded his first song, ‘Defrost Your Heart’, in 1955, and claimed to have co-written Elvis Presley’s debut, ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’. He did, however, co-write Presley’s first hit, ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’.

Over the years Feathers continued to record for a number of labels, still unable to break through the barrier between ‘cult’ and ‘star’. Among his early rockabilly sides was ‘One Hand Loose’ on King Records, regarded by many collectors as one of the finest examples of its kind. His highly applauded performance at London’s famous Rainbow Theatre in 1977 gave his career a significant boost in Europe and brought him a new audience, notably the fans who were following Dave Edmunds and his crusade for ‘rockabilly’.

Feathers’ later recordings suffered from the problem of being aided by younger musicians who were merely in awe of his work, and his best material was from the 50s. Influential but spartan, full of whoops and growls, but ultimately, irresistible country rock, Feathers’ ‘light comedy’ style was an ‘invisible influence’ over many decades, from the Big Bopper in the 50s to Hank Wangford in the 80s. His self-titled 1991 album contained a reworked version of his classic ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’. He performed with his son and daughter on guitar and vocals, respectively. A remarkable crop of unissued demos appeared in 1995 as Tip Top Daddy and further highlighted the originality of the man who defined country rockabilly long before Garth Brooks was born, and yet never received widespread recognition for his contribution.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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