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Charlie Booty 1928-2008


It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Charlie Booty.  Charlie died last week at his home in Milan, Tennessee.  Charlie performed at three of our festivals:  2000, 2001 and 2002.  In the years that he didn’t perform, he would make the long drive from Tennessee just to be with us for the festival weekend.

A truly remarkable man, Charlie was not only an amazing piano player, he was a pilot, an Air Force Veteran a recording artist and a gifted prankster.  Charlie barely survived a plane crash during the oil crisis of the 1970’s.  The crash was caused by mechanical failure; it was discovered that fuel had been siphoned from his plane and replaced with water.  As a result of the crash, Charlie suffered from a brain injury that left him without a memory of ever having played the piano.  After his recovery, he re-learned the piano from scratch and would shy away from air travel if possible.  He would come to prefer a long drive to a short flight.  He would always say that he liked his travel “low and slow.”

A bout with throat cancer left Charlie without vocal chords and Charlie would struggle to speak.  Nevertheless, Charlie was a gifted story-teller and loved to talk about music and life.  It was through his music that Charlie really communicated best.  He was expert at a now-rare form of blues piano called the “Santa-Fe style.”  His playing style was best described as sweet and swinging.  Charlie was also a one-man recording company.  He formed his own label and recorded, mixed and distributed his own CD’s through his own website and mailing list.

Despite the many setbacks in his life, Charlie was one of the most positive souls you could ever hope to meet.  Charlie seemed to love every minute of every day that he had on this planet.  He leaves us with an impressive legacy of recorded music and many wonderful memories.  To say that Charlie will be missed is a gross understatement.
Keith Irtenkauf

We last heard from Charlie in December 2007 and can think of no better tribute to his spirit than the words he wrote: 

This year has been a year of reflection of times past and I find so much I can be very happy about, and give thanks for, especially all the people whom I love, and who have brought so much happiness into my life. Of course, I miss all those times on the Goldenrod Showboat, the Toronto Ragtime Bash and other events which have now become history. I miss all the people who have passed through my life, even if briefly, because they helped make me what I am and who I am. I am especially thankful for those who are still a part of my life.

Despite appearances to the contrary, nothing bad has happened in my life, and all things have worked for my good. I wouldn't change a thing, even if I could, because that would change the sum total of my life; who I am, what I am and where I am. It has all been a blessing, even if sometimes in disguise.

I am thankful for everyone in my life. Peace, Love, Health and Happiness to you all.


PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COLLIER. For more of John's pictures of Charlie click here  

To read a story Charlie wrote about his first boogie duet click here



Artists  Boogie Woogie  Ragtime and Stride  


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