Grand Ole Opry Member Charlie Walker Dies at Age 81

Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Walker died Friday morning (Sept. 12) in Hendersonville, Tenn., at age 81. A honky-tonk singer best known for his 1958 recording of Harlan Howard‘s “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” he also enjoyed a successful career as a radio broadcaster and was inducted into the Country Radio DJ Hall of Fame in 1981. Born Nov. 26, 1926, in Copeville, Texas, Charles Levi Walker began his professional music career in Dallas during the 1940s as singer and guitarist with Bill Boyd’s Cowboy Ramblers. After serving in the Army, he formed the Texas Ramblers and began performing in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area in 1947. He moved to San Antonio in 1951 and gained a fan base as a disc jockey on radio station KMAC. As a singer, Walker’s first appearance on the country charts came in 1956 with “Only You, Only You,” which reached No. 9. Walker scored three other Top 10 country hits during his recording career on the Decca, Columbia, RCA Victor and Capitol labels. “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down” failed to reach No. 1, but it spent four weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard country chart. His other Top 10 singles include “Wild as a Wildcat” (1965) and “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon” (1967). He became an Opry member in 1967 and was cast as country singer Hawkshaw Hawkins in Sweet Dreams, the 1985 film biography of Patsy Cline which starred Jessica Lange. Walker, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, is survived by his wife Connie and 10 children.