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|Birth name||Charles Arthur Feathers|
June 12, 1932|
Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States
|Died||February 29, 1998
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Feathers was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and recorded a string of popular singles like "Peepin' Eyes," "Defrost Your Heart," "Tongue-Tied Jill," and "Bottle to the Baby" on Sun Records, Meteor and King Records in the 1950s.
Feathers was known for being a master of shifting emotional and sonic dynamics in his songs. His theatrical, hiccup-styled, energetic, rockabilly vocal style inspired a later generation of rock vocalists, including Lux Interior of The Cramps.
He studied and recorded several songs with Junior Kimbrough, whom he called "the beginning and end of all music". His childhood influences were reflected in his later music of the 1970s and 1980s, which had an easy-paced, sometimes sinister, country-blues tempo, as opposed to the frenetic fast-paced style favored by some of his rockabilly colleagues of the 1950s.
He started out as a session musician at Sun Studios, playing any side instrument he could in the hopes of someday making his own music there. He eventually played on a small label started by Sam Phillips called Flip records which got him enough attention to record a couple singles for Sun Records and Holiday Inn Records. By all accounts the singer was not held in much regard by Phillips, but Feathers often made the audacious claim that he had arranged "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" for Elvis Presley and recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight" months before Presley. He also claimed that his "We're Getting Closer (To Being Apart)" had been intended to be Elvis' sixth single for Sun. He did, however, get his name on one of Elvis' Sun records, "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" when the writer Stan Kesler asked him to record a demo of the song.
He then moved on to Meteor Records and then King Records where he recorded his best-known work. When his King contract ran out he still continued to perform, although Feathers—perhaps typically—thought there was a conspiracy to keep his music from gaining the popularity it deserved.
In the mid-1980s, he performed at times at new music nightclubs like the Antenna Club in Memphis, Tennessee, sharing the bill with rock-and-roll bands like Tav Falco's Panther Burns, who, as devoted fans of Feathers, had introduced him to their label's president. During this time, rockabilly icon Colonel Robert Morris played drums for Charlie. Charlie said "Robert tore up a brand new set of drums, but the crowd was dancing on the tables".
He released his New Jungle Fever album in 1987 and Honkey Tonk Man in 1988, featuring the lead guitar work of his son, Bubba Feathers. These later albums of original songs penned by Feathers were released on the French label New Rose Records, whose other 1980s releases included albums by cult music heroes like Johnny Thunders, Alex Chilton, Roky Erickson, The Cramps, The Gun Club, and others.
Feathers' song, "That Certain Female" was featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film, Kill Bill Vol. 1. His "Can't Hardly Stand It" was featured on the follow-up Kill Bill Vol. 2 soundtrack, as well as the highly successful video game Grand Theft Auto V.
He died on August 29, 1998 of complications from a stroke-induced coma.
Charlie Feathers' pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan has featured Charlie Feathers on the second season of his XM satellite radio show Theme Time Radio Hour, playing Feathers' records "One Hand Loose" (on the "Countdown" show, Dec. 12, 2007) and "Defrost Your Heart" (on the "Cold" show, April 2, 2008). His song "Can't Hardly Stand It" is featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto V on the game's radio station, Rebel Radio.
- Good Rockin' Tonight (Charlie Feathers LP) (recorded in 1973, released in 1974)
- Live in Memphis (Charlie Feathers LP) (recorded in 1973, released in 1976)
- That Rockabilly Cat (recorded 1968, released 1979)
- Rockabilly – Charlie Feathers Vol. 1 (1979)
- Charlie Feathers Vol. 2 (1979)
- Rockabilly Rhythm (recorded 1973, released 1981)
- Original TV Soundtrack NBC 1979 (1981)
- New Jungle Fever (1987)
- Honky Tonk Man (Charlie Feathers LP) (1988)
- Charlie Feathers (1991)
- I Ain't Done Yet (1993)
- Tip Top Daddy (Demos recorded 1958–1973, released 1995)
- Live In London (Charlie Feathers CD) (recorded 1990, released 2000)
- Live In Paris '87 (Charlie Feathers CD) (recorded 1987, released 2002)
- Get With It: Essential Recordings (early singles and unreleased tracks, 2 CDs, 1998)
- Wild Side Of Life (Charlie Feathers CD) (rare and unreleased tracks, 2008)
- Honky Tonk Kind (rare and unreleased tracks, 2008)
- Long Time Ago (rare and unreleased tracks, 2008)
- Flip 503 - I've Been Deceived / Peepin' Eyes (April 1955)
- Sun 231 - Defrost Your Heart / Wedding Gown of White (January 1956)
- Meteor 5032 - Get With It / Tongue-Tied Jill (June 1956)
- King 4971 - Can't Hardly Stand It / Everybody's Lovin' My Baby (October 1956)
- King 4997 - One Hand Loose / Bottle to the Baby (December 1956)
- King 5022 - When You Decide / Nobody's Woman (February 1957)
- King 5043 - Too Much Alike / When You Come Around (April 1957)
- Kay 1001 - Jungle Fever / Why Don't You (June 1960)
- Wal-May 101 - Dinky John / South of Chicago (as "Charlie Morgan", July 1960)
- Memphis 103 - Wild Wild Party / Today and Tomorrow (December 1961)
- Holiday Inn 114 - Nobody's Darlin' / Deep Elm Blues (April 1963)
- Philwood P-223 - Tear It Up / Stutterin' Cindy (1971)
- Pompadour 231 - Wedding Gown of White / Uh Huh Honey (1973)
- Rollin' Rock 45-025 - That Certain Female / She Set Me Free (1974)
- Vetco 921 - Will You Be Satisfied That Way / It's Just That Song (1976)
- Vetco 922 - We're Getting Closer / You Make It Look So Easy (1976)
- Feathers 791104 - Blue Suede Shoes / We're Getting Closer (1979)
- Feathers 791105 - Ooby Dooby / If You Were Mine to Lose (1979)
- Feathers 3 - Cold Dark Night / Blame It On Time (early 1980s)
- Feathers 4 - Today I Started Loving You Again / Folsom Prison Blues (early 1980s)
- Feathers 5 - Jungle Fever / Jewel Here on Earth (early 1980s)
- Feathers 6 - He'll Have to Go / Will The Circle Be Unbroken (early 1980s)
- Feathers 7 - Honky Tonk Man / That's Alright, Mama (early 1980s)
- Feathers 8 - Roll Over Beethoven / Swinging Doors (early 1980s)
- Feathers 9 - In the Pines / I Must Move On (early 1980s)
- Feathers 10 - One Black Rat / Dig Myself a Hole (early 1980s)
- Feathers 11 - Lonesome Whistle / Cockroach (early 1980s)
- Feathers 12 - Who Da Say / Roll Over Beethoven – diff. version (early 1980s)
- Feathers 13 - Working on a Building / You Believe Everyone But Me (early 1980s)
Note: the Feathers 45s were private releases, sold at Charlie Feathers' concerts.
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I can hear rockabilly in the music that they play today... bluegrass and the cotton-patch blues. They're still coppin' from that today.
- Charlie Feathers biography at AllMusic
- The Official Charlie Feathers Homepage
- Comprehensive Session Listing
- Good Rockin' Tonight live on US-TV
- We're Getting Closer live on US-TV
- London '81 complete concert in 13 parts
- Listing of all Charlie Feathers' songs and alternatives