Bluegrass musician Joe Carr passes away in Levelland

Published: Dec. 15, 2014 at 11:47 PM CST|Updated: May. 19, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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John Hartin operates the Texas Music Shop in Levelland
John Hartin operates the Texas Music Shop in Levelland

LEVELLAND, TX (KCBD) - A distinguished musician and writer in Levelland died from a stroke Sunday evening. Joe Carr was 63.

Carr is known worldwide for his bluegrass music; a skill he passed along to the students he taught at South Plains College even after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago.

Carr played the guitar, the mandolin and even the fiddle. He wrote many books and recorded tutorials, sharing his ability to create music with others.

John Hartin will never forget when he saw Carr perform for the first time. Hartin was the South Plains College Chairman of Creative Arts at the time, and he knew the department needed Carr's expertise.

"He was interested and came out to visit with us," Hartin said. "I was very, very happy about that."

Now, 30 years later, Carr has inspired students of all ages. Despite his health, he was still actively teaching, up through the fall semester just last week.

"Joe made a tremendous difference in what we were able to do at South Plains College," Hartin said. "He had such a great background in bluegrass music, and he was so talented in so many instruments, performing and songwriting."

Carr's humor and positive personality helped him cope with his health issues, and Hartin said he would make adjustments to keep playing instruments.

"He continued full speed," Hartin said. "He was still very active in teaching."

At one point, Hartin said Carr had to buy special picks to play his instruments, and even had to switch from the guitar to the ukulele.

"Joe was an inspiration to everyone," Hartin said. "To his fellow teachers, to his students, to people that just met him as a friend, or just watched him as a member of the audience."

When Hartin learned he lost his former coworker and friend, he knew it would be difficult going back to work. He operates the Texas Music Shop in Levelland, where he sells compilations of Carr's DVDs and books.

"He was the best husband, the best father, the best grandfather, the best friend, best musician," Hartin said. "Just any direction that you would address Joe Carr, he was the best."

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