Musician's focus was on playing, not fame

 By Michael Corcoran, Austin American Statesman
 Sunday, November 4, 2001

 He didn't care about stardom or any of the peripheral elements of the music business. Musician Carroll DesChamps
 "Champ" Hood just wanted to be the best he could be.

 On Saturday, Hood, 49, lost a battle with cancer that he had kept private until last month, when, noticeably skinnier, he
 played his last gig with local artist Toni Price. He died with his musician son Warren Hood at his side, at an Oak Hill house
 friends had moved him into just a week earlier, reminiscent of the song "High Hill" that he wrote and sang with Uncle Walt's
 Band, the acoustic string trio with Walter Hyatt and David Ball.

 After moving to Austin from his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C., in 1973, the curly-headed fiddler and guitarist earned the
 reputation of being a string's best friend.

 Friend Karen Amburn said Hood was diagnosed with lung cancer in April but didn't want anyone to worry about him. Few
 of his longtime friends even knew he was sick until an e-mail, circulated Friday, said that the end was near.

 The sentiment among members of the music community Saturday was that they had lost a pure spirit, a player able to coax
 magic from mere wood and wires whether he was playing to a handful or a sellout crowd.

 "The minute he hit town, he raised the level of picking," said Threadgill's owner Eddie Wilson, who hired Hood to play
 Wednesday nights at Threadgill's for 10 years with the Threadgill's Troubadours.

 Hood also was a fixture at Price's happy hour show at the Continental Club.

 "Champ was this really lovable, sweet guy who never played a song the same way twice," said Kelly Willis, who took Hood
 on tour several times. Hood also toured with Lyle Lovett, who counts Uncle Walt's Band as a primary inspiration for his
 upscale country sound. Uncle Walt's Band frontman Hyatt died in a Florida plane crash in May 1996. Ball, the trio's bassist,
 who came to see Hood two weeks ago, is a Nashville recording artist.

 Hood's survivors include his son Warren Hood, and brother, Robin Hood of Spartanburg, S.C.