The Opry’s Charlie Collins Passes

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• January 16, 2012

Charlie Collins (L) with Brother Oswald on the cover of the Rounder Records album "That's Country."

Grand Ole Opry sideman and world-class flat-top guitarist Charlie Collins has died at the age of 78.

Also an excellent fiddler and mandolin player, Collins came to prominence when he joined Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys band in 1966. The Tennessee native had previously been the fiddler in The Pinnacle Mountain Boys, 1960-66.

Following Acuff’s death in 1992, Collins continued to entertain on the Opry stage in a duo with Dobro player and fellow Acuff alumnus Brother Oswald (Beecher Kirby). The two recorded several albums together, including Os and Charlie and That’s Country for Rounder Records. Collins also recorded as a sideman with Jim & Jesse, Norman Blake, Sam Bush and others.

Brother Oswald retired in 1999 and died in 2002. Collins continued to perform on the Grand Ole Opry in the band backing the Opry Square Dancers.

On Saturday, Jan. 7, Collins performed on the show backing the dancers. He reportedly returned home that night and played his fiddle until around midnight. He suffered a massive stroke on Sunday morning. His death four days later, on Thursday, Jan. 12, was as a result of complications from that stroke.

Charlie Collins is survived by his wife Mary Agnes, daughter Teresa Lynn, three brothers, four sisters, three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a great-great granddaughter. His burial is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 16 at Spring Hill Cemetery.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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