MATEWAN — Performing at the Annual Hatfield and McCoy Reunion/Festival this week will be Charlie McCoy, who is one of the area’s very own McCoy decendants. McCoy will be performing at the event on Friday, June 19 at 8:30 p.m.
Charles Ray “Charlie” McCoy is an American session musician noted for his work on a wide variety of instruments. He has also recorded thirty-seven studio albums, including fourteen for Monument Records. Thirteen of his singles have entered the Billboard country charts. He was a member of Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry.
A mainstay in Music City since the ’60s, Charlie has played on dozens of hit records, including work for such legends as Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and many more.
Charlie is known all over the world. He performs every year in Europe and Asia, most frequently France, Japan, and Denmark. His European backup band is made up of Europe’s finest musicians and is second to none.
McCoy and his family moved to nearby Fayetteville when he was a boy and then to Miami, Florida. At age eight, he began playing the harmonica and the guitar and later, in his teens, he also learned to play the bass and trumpet. When he was in high school in Miami his skills had developed to such an extent that he decided to pursue a career in music.
After recording some tapes and making several attempts to get his name out there and work in the music field, he received a call from a booking agent, Jim Denney, who informed him that Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records had listened to McCoy’s tapes and wanted to sign him. McCoy cut his first single for the Cadence label and “Cherri Berri Wine” reached No. 99 in the Billboard chart. In Nashville, Denney gave him the advice to do demo sessions and to concentrate on the harmonica. Next, McCoy joined Wayne Moss as a bass player performing at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
Chet Atkins heard one of McCoy’s demo tapes and immediately hired him in May 1961. Thus, his first recording as a harmonica player was on a song, “I Just Don’t Understand”, by Ann-Margret for RCA. Fred Foster of Monument Records also heard about McCoy and hired him as harmonica player on Roy Orbison’s song “Candy Man”. It became a million-seller. McCoy’s reputation as harmonica player and studio musician increased.
Tex Davis, the promotion manager of Monument Records, was persuaded by Charlie Dillard of WPFA to release “Today I Started Loving You Again” as a single. It had previously been released on McCoy’s second LP. When the single came out in 1972 it sold 750 000 copies. The single went to No. 16 in the Billboard country charts. For his next album, “The Real McCoy”, he won a grammy from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. His album “Good Time Charlie” reached No. 1 in the Billboard country chart. In the 1970s, McCoy, as a studio musician, took part in more than 400 sessions a year. He has won 2 CMA Awards and 7 ACM Awards.
On May 17, 2009, Charlie was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell. He is also a member of the International Musicians’ Hall of Fame, and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.