Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Charlie Moore’s Stetson Donated To Bluegrass Museum

Pieter Groenveld of Strictly Country Records (SCR) sends news that he has shipped Charlie Moore’s trademark black J. B. Stetson hat to the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) in Owensboro, Kentucky.

For those not familiar with Charlie Moore, he wrote the Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen hit “Legend Of The Rebel Soldier” as well as many other well known country and bluegrass songs in his short career.

Moore toured Europe in 1976 and 1979. The Dutch band “The Bluegrass Clodhoppers” backed Charlie during his first tour in ’76. The Dutch/Belgian band “Smoketown Strut,” with members Jan Michielsen of “Four Wheel Drive” (guitar), Pieter Groenveld of SCR (mandolin), Peter Van Eijk (banjo) and Jef van Gool (bass) toured with Charlie in 1979.

It was on that 1979 tour that Pieter Groenveld acquired Charlie’s legendary Stetson hat.

Pieter writes, “Charlie Moore was in Holland in 1979 shortly before he passed away and stayed at my place. When he left, at the airport he gave me his J.B. Stetson hat. I told that years ago to Gabrielle Gray [IBMM Executive Director] and they asked if I would send the hat to the museum. Today [July 29] I mailed them the Stetson, and this is their one and only item of Charlie’s.
In a phone conversation I had with Pieter this week, I asked if he recalled the exact date that Charlie had given him the hat. He did not know, but continued to describe the scenario.
Before they parted ways at the airport Charlie (whose hat size was slightly larger than Pieter’s) had ripped a page out of the day’s newspaper, folded it, put it into the hat, and placed his big ol’ black Stetson on Pieter’s head. A very personal parting gift from Charlie Moore.
Pieter confirmed that the hat was indeed shipped to the IBMM in Kentucky…but the newspaper page had not been sent along with it. So, being the scholars that we are (insert laughter), Pieter and I suddenly realized the date would be on that paper! A few minutes of shuffling noises followed and then Pieter returned to the phone, still unfolding that paper, and announced: “Thursday, February 22, 1979.
That was the date of Charlie’s return to the USA, leaving his treasured Stetson behind as a memento to his Dutch friend. That 1979 tour would be his final trip to Europe. Charlie Moore died on December 24, 1979.
Make your own journey to Owensboro, Kentucky …and you might recall that little story as you stand looking at Charlie Moore’s Stetson hat in its display case at the International Bluegrass Music Museum.
Photo: Pieter Groenveld [Holland 1979]