Ira Louvin was far from perfect, but it’s probably his imperfection that made him such a legendary act. For Bluegrass fans, he was one of the best mandolin players in history, an elite songwriter and Country Music singer. In addition, he was ½ half of the reason behind the Louvin Brothers’ success – the other half being his brother Charlie.
Louvin was born Ira Lonnie Loudermilk on the 21st of April, 1924 in Section, Alabama. He’s related to Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee John Loudermilk. In addition, his music was inspired from the works of the Monroe and Delmore Brothers.
Sometime in the 1940’s, Louvin teamed up with his younger brother, Charlie Elzer Loudermilk, and formed the duo act The Louvin Brothers. Ira took up the mandolin while Charlie played the guitar. Their group is credited with being one of the pioneers of close harmony, which is derived from Country Music.
At the start, most of their music was religious in nature, which was brought about by the strong influence of their Baptist faith. Further, most of the subject matter of their music focused on warnings against sin.
“The Get Acquainted Waltz”, which the duo sang with Chet Atkins, was their first non-gospel hit and helped them achieve a small amount of non-denominational success. Other secular songs the duo composed were “When I Stop Dreaming” and “Cash on the Barrelhead”.
In 1955, the duo started performing at the Grande Ole Opry and only ceased when they finally disbanded in 1963.
Performance at the Grande Ole Opry, which opened in Nashville, Tennessee in 1925, was considered a major milestone – perhaps even the pinnacle of success – in every Country musician’s career.
Some old-timers consider the early works of Louvin as an irony, considering how the artist was pretty well known for his short temper and penchant for drinking. He had also married four times and created quite a ruckus when he was shot by his 3rd wife three times!
Louvin passed away on the 20th of June, 1965. He, along with his brother, received a posthumous induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.