musician, singer Champ Hood, 49, dies of cancer
By CRAIG HAVIGHURST
songwriter and musician Champ Hood succumbed to cancer
yesterday at his home in the hills outside Austin, Texas. Mr. Hood, 49,
worked with numerous Nashville musicians over 30 years. Mr. Hood's three-octave vocal
range and mastery of a dozen instrumental styles, "from Brazilian to blues to bluegrass,”
made him an ideal backing musician and earned him membership in the Texas Music Hall
of Fame. He played guitar and fiddle with nationally known artists such as Lyle Lovett,
Kelly Willis and Willis Alan Ramsey.
He appeared in live
performances and on two independent releases as leader of
a freewheeling acoustic band first known as the Threadgill Troubadours and
then as Champ Hood and the Troubadours. Recently Mr. Hood was a fixture in
Austin vocalist Toni Price's band. He also had been working on his first solo
Mr. Hood went to
Austin from Nashville in 1973 as a member of Uncle Walt's
Band, an acoustic trio that included Walter Hyatt and David Ball. Hyatt died
in the 1996 ValuJet crash in Florida. Ball is enjoying a revival on country
Mr. Hood's finely
crafted original songs were featured in recordings and
performances by Uncle Walt's Band, as well as by the Contenders, a 1970s
folk-rock band that included Hyatt, North Carolinians Tommy Goldsmith (now The
Tennessean's city editor) and Steve Runkle and drummer Jimbeau Walsh. Mr.
Hood also performed and recorded with artists such as Nashville songwriters
Linda Hargrove and Guy Clark, country star Steve Wariner and Texas stalwarts
Gary P. Nunn and Rusty Wier.
Mr. Hood's highest
national profile may have come in 1990s appearances with
Lovett, whom he accompanied on recordings and on tours. Lovett became a fan
of Uncle Walt's Band while at Texas A&M.
Born Aug. 16, 1952,
in Spartanburg, S.C., Mr. Carroll DesChamps Hood attended
schools and junior college there before heading to Nashville with Hyatt and
Ball in the 1970s. ''His last year of high school, we played together as a duo in a restaurant
called Italian Village,'' Hyatt said in 1991. ''Champ was always really good.
He used to actively keep up with what was hip and new.''
In addition to Mr. Hood's expertise, he will be remembered for his good
looks, wry humor and generosity of spirit; he appeared at countless benefits
and lent his talent to all manner of performers.
A 1997 Austin American-Statesman
interview with Mr. Hood reveals his
self-deprecating humor and the range of work he accepted. Reporter Rob
Patterson asked Mr. Hood for his ''keys to success.''
''Am I successful?'' Mr. Hood said. ''I guess my advice is to be flexible and
have a good base of musical knowledge. Don't expect things to go your way,
and don't expect to get paid sometimes, but hold out for what you think you
are worth. Remember that it takes awhile to get established. And be on time.''
Mr. Hood is survived by his son, Warren, an increasingly well-known Austin
musician, and by a brother, Robin, of Spartanburg, S.C. A service in Austin
is set for next Sunday.
Writer Tommy Goldsmith contributed to this report.