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Charlie Collins Dies at 78

Charlie Collins, Larry McNeely

Renowned country guitarist Charlie Collins (pictured above, left), who was a longtime staple in Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys, died on Thursday, Jan. 12, after suffering a massive stroke on Sunday, Jan. 8.

The 78-year-old guitarist did what he loved right up until the end of his life. The Saturday night before his stroke, Collins, who played the Grand Ole Opry regularly for 45 years, took the Opry stage one last time with the Opry Square Dance Band. According to the Tennessean, Collins returned home from the show around 9:15PM and suffered his stroke just the next morning.

In addition to his guitar-wielding skills, the multi-instrumentalist was also quite capable on the mandolin and the fiddle, rounding out his trifecta of stringed country instruments. He first joined Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys in 1966 and played with the band until Acuff’s 1992 death. Collins also performed with other noteworthy Opry acts, including Brother Oswald and the Square Dance Band, with whom he played his last show.

Collins also recorded with the likes of Mark O’Conner, Bush, Jim and Jesse and Norman Blake. A native of Caryville, Tenn., Collins was in the army for a while before taking a job with the Pinnacle Mountain Boys in 196o. While touring with that band, his nickname was ‘Peanut The Fiddler,’ and after six years he joined on with Acuff.

“Music and the Opry, that was his life,” his friend and musical collaborator Mike Webb told the Tennessean. “I’m so grateful that he was able to work, right up until the end.”

Watch Charlie Collins Perform With Larry McNeely in 1975

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