Charles Ray McCoy
West Virginia University presents Charlie McCoy with an Honorary Doctorate of Musical Letters for attaining national and international preeminence in the field of country music, specifically as a performer over a 48-year career.
Charlie McCoy was born in Fayette County, West Virginia, and, although he spent the majority of his youth in Miami, Florida, he spent extended periods of time in the Mountain State well into his teenaged years. After spending one year as a music education major at the University of Miami, he moved to Nashville, where he quickly became a first-call session musician and a regular part of the elite group of Nashville musicians known as the “A Team,” recording with everyone from Ann-Margret to Tom T. Hall. He also contributed noteworthy work to such iconic songs as Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 33,” and George Jones’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” In addition to maintaining a busy schedule as a session musician, McCoy was also a significant bandleader, first as the frontman for Charlie McCoy & the Escorts and later as the leader of the Nashville supergroup Area Code 615 (a group that also included West Virginia native Wayne Moss). McCoy also appeared on the nationally-syndicated television program Hee Haw, where he headed the so-called Million-Dollar Band, featuring such luminaries as Jethro Burns, Johnny Gimble, and Chet Atkins. As a solo artist, he has released more than three dozen albums, and he continues to tour with his own band, drawing particular interest from audiences in Europe and Japan.
McCoy’s work has been widely celebrated and honored. His 1972 album The Real McCoy received a Grammy Award, and his session work has been recognized with two Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year Awards (1972, 1973) and seven Academy of Country Music Specialty Instrument Awards (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1988). McCoy has also been inducted into several halls of fame, including the International Musician’s Hall of Fame (2007), the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame (2007), the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame (2008), and, most importantly, the Country Music Hall of Fame (2009).