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WV Book Team: Autobiography tells musical story of Oak Hill’s McCoy

By By Abby Freeland
WV Book Team
CHARLIE MCCOY | Courtesy photo
Charlie McCoy leads the Million Dollar Band in a harmonica tune on the television show “Hee Haw.”
CHARLIE MCCOY | Courtesy photo
Harold Bradley inducts Charlie McCoy into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
CHARLIE MCCOY | Courtesy photo
Charlie McCoy (bottom row, second from right) and friends take a photo with Elvis Presley (top center).

From Ann Margret to Bob Dylan and George Jones to Simon & Garfunkel, Nashville harmonica virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Charlie McCoy has contributed to some of the most successful recordings of country, pop and rock music of the last six decades.

As the leader of the “Hee Haw” television show’s Million-Dollar Band, McCoy spent more than two decades appearing on the screens of country music fans around the United States. As a solo artist, he has entertained audiences across North America, Europe and Japan and has earned numerous honors as a result.

“Fifty Cents and a Box Top: The Creative Life of Nashville Session Musician Charlie McCoy,” written by McCoy and Travis D. Stimeling, offers rare firsthand insights into life in the recording studio, on the road and on the small screen as Nashville became a leading center of popular music production in the 1960s. During this time, the young McCoy, a West Virginia native, established himself as one of the most sought-after session musicians in the country.

No Depression magazine wrote: “We’ve been waiting for McCoy to tell us his story and can be grateful that he has now done so in such compelling and entertaining fashion.”

Rich Kienzle, author of “The Grand Tour: The Life and Music of George Jones,” called the book “one of the first serious, substantive books by a major participant in the Nashville recording scene. McCoy’s recollections and insights offer a new and fascinating perspective on the development and expansion of the country music industry.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame will hold a launch party for the book May 28. McCoy will discuss this memoir on “The Eddie Stubbs Show” on May 24 and on Bill Cody’s “Coffee, Country & Cody” on May 26.

“Fifty Cents and a Box Top” is the inaugural title in West Virginia University Press’ “Sounding Appalachia” series. The series is edited by Stimeling, assistant professor of music history at WVU, where he also directs the WVU Bluegrass and Old-Time Bands. Stimeling’s previous books include “Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin’s Progressive Country Music” and “The Country Music Reader.”

To order WVU Press books visit, call 800-621-2736, or visit a local bookstore like Taylor Books or West Virginia Book Company in Charleston.

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Abby Freeland is the sales and marketing director of West Virginia University Press and the acquisitions editor of Vandalia Press, the fiction imprint of WVU Press.

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