Grand Ole Opry star Charlie Walker died this morning (Sept.12) in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tenn. Walker, 81, had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer.
He is survived by his wife, Connie, as well as 10 children: Ronnie, Cindy, Arthur, Charlie III, Elissa, Charlene, Catherine, Christina, Caroline, and Charlton; 15 grandchildren; 3 step-grandchildren; and 1 great-grandchild.
“The Grand Ole Opry family will miss our friend and Opry member, Charlie Walker,” said Pete Fisher, Opry VP/GM in a prepared 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.”
Walker started singing as a Texas high school student, and then played country music during World War II over the Armed Forces Radio Network as part of the Eighth Army Signal Corps occupation forces in Tokyo. Back stateside, Walker relocated to San Antonio in 1951 and quickly became a popular country music announcer, soon to be recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 country disc jockeys.
Alongside his burgeoning radio career, Walker succeeded as a country recording artist. He achieved regional hits with “Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy” and his first charting song, “Only You, Only You” on the Decca label. Walker hit gold on Columbia Records in 1958 with “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” penned by young future Hall of Fame songwriter Harlan Howard. The song became a million-seller and a country music staple. Membership in the Grand Ole Opry followed in 1967 along with successful tours and other hits including “Who Will Buy the Wine” and “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon.” Walker was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1981.
Visitation and funeral arrangements are incomplete at press time time.