Friday, February 20, 2009

Rock Pioneer Charles Wayne Avery, AKA Chuck Bennett, Dies at 66

Most Readers have never heard of Charles Wayne Avery. He is my friend's father and he recently died at the age of 66 in Washington, DC.

Avery played with Link Wray and the Raymen, rock pioneers in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Link Wray is considered the "Father of the Power Chord", or the fifth. It is the signature chord of rock and roll music. And easy to play.

Back in 2005 the Author posted a tribute to Link Wray when Wray died in Europe.

Below is the text from Avery's obituary in the Washington Post.
D.C. Rocker Faded Out of Music Scene

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 19, 2009; B07

Charles Wayne Avery once said an early career in rock music broke his heart "like a woman." He became a cabbie and ended up using his old bass amp as a coffee table.

The onetime bassist died Jan. 29 at Inova Fairfax Hospital of emphysema and complications of cancer. He was 66.

As Chuck Bennett, his stage name, Mr. Avery had been a singer and bass player with Link Wray and the Raymen, a hard-rocking Washington band of the 1950s and 1960s known for the menacing sound it produced on "Rumble" and "Jack the Ripper," songs that influenced hard rock, grunge and punk.

"Chuck had an unbelievable voice and an unbelievable amount of energy, kind of like James Brown," musician Elwood Brown recalled. "He'd glide across the floor, down on his knees; he had great moves."

Brown, a retired bass player with Link Wray's group, recalled that when Mr. Avery was one of the Raymen in the 1960s, there were two Chuck Bennetts.

One was known as "Tall Chuck," since he was 6 feet 5 inches tall; the other was "Dirty Chuck," for his long, scraggly hair and generally disheveled appearance. Mr. Avery was "Dirty Chuck."

In the 1960s, Wray and the Raymen were regulars at two notorious biker hangouts in the District, the 1023 Club and Vinnie's. They also played the Famous, the Rendezvous, the Silver Dollar, the Crazy Horse and dozens of other venues throughout the Washington area.

"He just hammered out a living in the roughest, wildest clubs in Washington, D.C." said Mark Opsasnick, a historian of the city's music scene.

Mr. Avery also played with the Warlox and with Willie and the Hand Jive and was the lead singer for an Oxon Hill-based psychedelic band called Hillow Hammet. In the early 1980s, he toured the country as part of the band backing The Clovers.

Although he had a regional hit single in the early 1960s called "Seven Days Are Made for Love," he faded from the music scene. He sang occasionally for his friends at the Fraternal Order of Eagles meeting house in Alexandria.

Mr. Avery was born in the District, into what a daughter, Stephanye Avery of Albuquerque, described as "the ultimate dysfunctional family." He never knew his father, she said, and his mother had no time for her talented but troublesome son. She had him committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital, where he stayed for a few years as an adolescent.

After his release, he never went back to school. Music became his life.

"All his life, he had to have a nice stereo," his daughter said. "He had thousands of records and would spend days just sitting and listening to them."

For a few years, he drove a cab during the day and performed at night, but gradually he began driving full time. His emphysema forced him into retirement in 2004, and he spent the last five years of his life as a resident of the Inova Commonwealth Care Center in Fairfax. He passed the time watching movies on TV.

His marriages to Marilyn Lee and Joan Hopkins Avery ended in divorce.

Besides his daughter Stephanye, who is from his second marriage, survivors include a son from his first marriage, Michael Avery of Virginia Beach; a daughter from another relationship, Brenda Cline of Sacramento; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Brown, the retired bass player, said Mr. Avery and country singer Patsy Cline "were probably the two biggest eaters on the planet. We'd be out on the road, and he'd order eight or nine eggs, four or five orders of bacon. It was unbelievable."

Brown also recalled that Mr. Avery favored banana-and-mustard sandwiches. "Guys like that you don't forget," he said.