Harmonica great Charlie McCoy set for Nov. 14 MTSU...

Harmonica great Charlie McCoy set for Nov. 14 MTSU talk, concert

The multitalented harmonica player who’s left his inimitable stamp on decades of country and rock recordings will visit MTSU Monday, Nov. 14, to discuss his amazing career and perform in a free public event.

Charlie McCoy poster webCharlie McCoy will sit down at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Tennessee Room inside MTSU’s James Union Building with West Virginia University’s Dr. Travis Stimeling, a leading authority on Nashville’s classic era of recording, to discuss McCoy’s adventures as one of the original “Nashville Cats” session musicians and as a recording artist in his own right.

McCoy, 75, will follow the discussion with a performance with his band of Nashville pros.

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music is presenting the event. A printable campus parking map is available at

McCoy, a native of Oak Hill, West Virginia, who was raised in Miami, Florida, began his musical career on a 50-cent harmonica at age 8.

His talents ultimately led him to Nashville, where he played drums, guitar and bass in bands and cut his own single before Chet Atkins first hired him as a session musician in 1961. Ann-Margret’s “I Just Don’t Understand” and Roy Orbison’s “Candy Man” were the first of hundreds to include McCoy’s harmonica.

new-CPM-logo-webBy the mid-’60s, McCoy was a fixture on Elvis Presley’s records and movie soundtracks, and after a chance meeting in New York City in 1965, he collaborated regularly with Bob Dylan on classics that included the “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Blonde on Blonde,” “John Wesley Harding” and “Nashville Skyline” albums.

His work with Dylan led to sessions with other rock and folk artists, including Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Johnny Cash.

McCoy, who also plays keyboards and several wind and brass instruments, has contributed to thousands of records in the last 50-plus years, including Dolly Parton’s “My Tennessee Mountain Home” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

He’s released more than two dozen of his own albums, including the Grammy-winning “The Real McCoy” and the No. 1 “Good Time Charlie,” served as music director for the “Hee Haw” TV show for 19 years and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

You can learn more about McCoy at his website,

The Center for Popular Music, part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, is one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music.

For more information on MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit