The Spartanburg Herald-Journal 11-5-01

Musician Hood dies of cancer in Texas

By GARY HENDERSON
Staff Writer

Cancer has claimed the life of musician and Spartanburg native Champ
Hood at his home in Austin, Texas.

Hood died shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday.

The 49-year-old musician learned he had lung cancer early this year.

Hood began his career with friends David Ball and Walter Hyatt as
Uncle Walt's Band while he was still in Spartanburg High School.

He went on to become a member of singer Lyle Lovett's Large Band.

Hood was one of Austin's most popular musicians and one of the most
frequent guests on the weekly nationally televised PBS show, Austin City
Limits.

Lovett, who in the early days of his career opened for Uncle Walt's Band
in Austin, said Hood was a personal friend, supporter and a big influence
on his music.

"Champ was one of my heroes," Lovett said from his home near
Houston. "Radio stations all over Texas have been playing Uncle Walt's
Band and Champ's music today."

Lovett said Hood's music was as "pure as it gets."

"Everybody that heard Champ loved his music from the first note he
played or sung," Lovett said. "I was lucky to get to speak to him last
week."

Paisley Robertson, a close friend and a member of Austin's music
community that helped care for Hood during the last weeks of his life,
said Hood seemed to rally a bit on Wednesday and Thursday, but his
condition worsened quickly on Friday.

"Thankfully, Champ died peacefully in his sleep," Robertson said from
Hood's home Saturday evening.

"He did not suffer."

Robertson was the manager of Uncle Walt's Band after the Spartanburg
trio of Hood, Ball and Hyatt relocated to Texas in the early 1980s, to be
in the middle of Austin's burgeoning folk and country music scene.

Hyatt died in a plane crash in 1996. Ball, a country-music performer,
lives in Nashville.

Ball, a close friend of Hood's since their days at Spartanburg High
School, was on tour Saturday and could not be reached for comment.

Robertson said the news about Hood's death spread quickly through
Austin's music community on Saturday.

"Champ was always kind to every one," Robertson said. "I can't tell you
 how heartbroken this town is."

Hood's musical following and popularity in Spartanburg never diminished
after he moved to Austin. He played to sold-out crowds, including his
 last show at Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in June.

Warren Hood, Hood's 18-year-old son, shared the stage with his father
during his last three Spartanburg shows.

Spartanburg resident Peggy Burnett Bain, who has also been a cancer
 patient, said Friday's news story about Hood made her recall a time last
summer when she too was going through a regiment of chemotherapy
and radiation at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.

"You know they have all those wonderful pictures (of Spartanburg
people) around the hospital," Bain said. "There were pictures of Champ
and his parents, and one with Champ and his fiddle in my exam room. It
was so comforting to see them. Today, when I read the story, I thought
about that, and the irony of it all."

Steve Clark, a longtime Austin friend of Hood's, said the musician was
extremely proud of Warren. The two loved playing music together and
fishing.

"They spent Thursday evening together, with Warren playing the guitar
 for him," Clark said.

Robin Hood of Spartanburg said funeral services for his brother have
tentatively been planned for 3 p.m., a week from today, in Austin.

"We have people in the music industry who want to be part of this, but it
will take some time for every one to get here," Robin Hood said on
Saturday evening.

Cards of condolence may be sent to family members at 2411 Kinney
Rd., Austin, Texas 78704.

Saturday, family members and friends from Austin's music community
gathered on the front porch of Hood's home on a knoll, overlooking the
rolling hills outside Austin.

Warren played some Uncle Walt songs on his guitar.

Robertson said all of this made her think about the song "High Hill" that
Hood wrote when he was 20, shortly after he arrived in Austin.

"The universe decided to give it to him," Robertson said. "That's what this
 house is."
 

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