Memories of Charlie Waller

        Charlie Waller (of ‘Fox on the Run’ fame for non-bluegrassers) and the Country Gentlemen used to do a song called ‘Remembrance of You.’  I have it on a recording somewhere, but couldn’t find it.  My vinyl collection is a pre-IPOD disorganized jumble.  It’ll turn up, though.

        He didn’t do a  bad version of it, but my favorite was his last band’s rendition.  My Marfar and I and I had been married for decades when we’d go hear that band play, but we snuggled up like high school kids when he’d sing that one.  It was of many of ‘our songs’ over the years.  

        I thought about Charlie on my lunch hour yesterday.  I was at Johnny’s Jewelry and Pawn, our local music store, and some lady came up to me and asked me if was Tommy Bibey.

        “Yes, Ma’am.  Pleased to meet you.”

        “Didn’t you play with Charlie Waller?”

        “Oh no ma’am, at least not professionally.  I did go out on the road with him some though.  I’d ride the bus with the band to Lucketts School in Virgina.  Charlie sat up front and we picked and sang all the way home.”  It was a fond memory for sure.

        “He had the voice didn’t he?”

        “No doubt.”

        “I knew Charlie when he was young.”  She was on towards elderly, but had an impish cute teenager’s smile.  “Did you know he lived on a boat for a while?”

        That got my attention.  She had to be legitimate.  Charlie used to live on a boat in Washington DC in the 50’s.  He and Eddie Adcock shared the rent there a few years.  Charlie’d look out over the traffic on the bridge and say (paraphrased)  “Eddie, don’t you feel sorry for all those people who have to go to work every day?”  It was the era right before Eddie’s stint as a California rock and roll musician under an assumed name.  This lady was real.

        “How’d you know Charlie?”

        She smiled.  “I worked at the Smithsonian, and had a DC apartment.  My gerbil died.  I hated to just throw it out in the trash, and there wasn’t anywhere to bury it.  Charlie invited me out to the boat.  He played the guitar and sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ and we buried the gerbil at sea.  

        “Dang ma’am.  That must have been the best gerbil funeral in the history of the world.”

        “Yes it was.  Charlie had the best voice right up to the day he died.”

        “He sure did.  I got in a session with him at a place called the Bomb Shelter not six months before his death.  Some folks from England were there that night and said it was the best jam session they’d ever been in.”

       I grabbed a guitar off the wall, and we broke into ‘Fox on the Run.’  Johnny joined in and we did it as a trio.  I wish we’d had another- the tune is always better with four foxes instead of three.

        But I really wish Charlie had been there.  What a singer.  He was one of the best.

Dr. B

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2 Comments on “Memories of Charlie Waller”

  1. Parson Bob Says:

    Another Charlie Waller story: it was at a festival called, as I remember it, the Butternut Festival. Whatever the name, it was out on a field near the small and well named town of Littleton, just a few miles west of Roanoke Rapids.

    Anyway, Charlie and the Gentlemen were there, on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon and with a most appreciative crowd, including Ann and me. However, I was also interested in a now longl forgotten football game between a couple of ACC rivals, so during break in the musical action I wandered up to my RV to check out the game. As I headed there, Charlie was also headed up the hill, perhaps toward a refreshment tent or signing table or wherever. We got to talking and I told him my purpose in leaving the festival, at least for a few minutes, and invited him to join me in the RV for some college football.

    He jumped at the invitation, and for the next half hour or so we chugged down a couple of sweet teas (literally) and watched whatever that game was. It was a delightful time with a delightful guy, and although we didn’t speak a word about music we covered a lot of other territory, leaving me with a wonderful memory. Quite a man.

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Parson,

    Good to hear from you again, Sir. Another reason there why Charlie was a bluegrass legend.

    Dr. B


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