Charles `Freddie' Rheubottom Jr., 63, musician in churches, bands

March 16, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel and Frederick N. Rasmussen | Andrea F. Siegel and Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Charles "Freddie" Rheubottom Jr., a keyboard musician who played in area bands and for churches, died of heart failure Thursday at Continuum Care Nursing Home in Sykesville. He was 63.

Mr. Rheubottom was born in Union Bridge and raised in Sykesville. He was a 1959 graduate of Robert R. Moton High School, a once-segregated Carroll County school that closed in the mid-1960s.

"When he was 15, he and several cousins formed The Playboys. He was self-taught, never learned how to read music and played the piano and organ by ear," said his wife of 12 years, the former Mary Mabe.

The Sykesville resident was employed by the Baltimore Luggage Co. and then worked as a nurse's aide at the Henryton Center, the now-closed hospital for tuberculosis patients in Marriottsville. For 18 years until retiring in 1996, he worked at London Fog's Eldersburg plant, where he loaded cloth into machines.

But it was his lifelong love of music that kept him performing nights and on weekends for decades.

Mr. Rheubottom later played with Billy Anderson and the Apollos, a group that backed well-known recording artists when they performed in the area.

"Whenever big stars like Sam Cooke, James Brown or Patti LaBelle came to Baltimore, the band played backup," Mrs. Rheubottom said.

Most recently, he was playing with Everyday People. The band played mostly rhythm and blues, oldies and country.

"He was a very jovial and intense," said Ira Glover, the band's lead singer.

"He liked upbeat blues, and when he played the blues he tried to mimic Jackie Wilson, James Brown or Fats Domino," Miss Glover said. "He also liked gospel music, and one of his favorite hymns was `Precious Lord Take My Hand.'" She was to sing that hymn at his funeral.

He played piano and organ at many churches, including White Rock and Fairview United Methodist churches.

Mr. Rheubottom also played at funerals in the Sykesville area.

"He'd play for anybody, whether he knew them or not. And he never charged," said Paige Haight Herbert, a Sykesville funeral director. "We'd call, and he would always come. When he played, he made it sound more like a celebration than a funeral."

Mr. Rheubottom also enjoyed camping, fishing and relaxing with friends and family.

Services were held yesterday.

Besides his wife, survivors include a son, Donell Rheubottom of Sykesville; four daughters, Lanise DeShields and Chanel Rheubottom, both of Sykesville, Tashika Abrecht of Frederick and Freda Rheubottom of Aurora, Colo.; a brother, Larry Rheubottom of Sykesville; and five grandchildren. His first marriage ended in divorce.

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