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Passings : Charlie Walker

Popular DJ became Grand Ole Opry star

September 13, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Charlie Walker, 81, a Grand Ole Opry star who became a popular disc jockey in Texas as he built a career as a honky-tonk singer, died Friday in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tenn., a Grand Ole Opry spokeswoman said. He had been diagnosed recently with colon cancer.

Walker was born Nov. 2, 1926, in Copeville, Texas, and reared on a cotton farm in nearby Nevada, Texas, north of Dallas. He played country music during World War II over the Armed Forces Radio Network as part of the occupation forces in Tokyo.

He became a top country music disc jockey on San Antonio's KMAC in the '50s while he recorded regional hits, including his first charting song, "Only You, Only You," on the Decca label.

His breakthrough was on Columbia Records in 1958 with the Harlan Howard-penned "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down." The tune became a million-seller and a country music staple.

His other hits included "Who Will Buy the Wine," "Wild as a Wildcat" and "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon."

He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1967.

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