By BEN RATLIFF
one of the great original rockabilly singers, died Aug. 29 at St. Francis
The cause was complications from a stroke, his wife, Rosemary, said.
On his best records
of the mid- and late 1950s, released on the Sun, Meteor and King labels,
He sang classic
songs that defined the meeting place of honky-tonk, bluegrass and rockabilly,
That song --
about a "real gone chick" with a speech problem, which Feathers demonstrated
But his records
sold poorly, and historians of American music have recounted Feathers'
career as a
It could have
been his voice, which was slightly too hiccupingly and shriekingly radical
It could have been his rudimentary education; he was barely literate.
Some thought it was his character, often described as brash and aggressive.
insisted, contrary to other accounts, that he was intimately involved in
There was no question, however, of his talent.
"In the blues
feeling that he put into a hillbilly song," Sam Phillips, the head of Sun
records, has said,
born near Holly Springs, Miss., and grew up in a family of tenant farmers.
Having left school by the age of 10, he worked on oil pipelines with his father in Illinois and Texas.
He settled in
Memphis in 1950, and his first recording, on the Flip label, was "I've
and eventually European rockabilly fans discovered him. After the broadcast
In later years,
Feathers played locally around Memphis, often in a band with his son and
In addition to
his wife, Feathers is survived by his sons, Charles (Bubba) Jr., and Ricky
, both of
The work of rockabilly legend
Feathers becomes more elevated during