Charlie Fitch, whose Sarg Records released the recording debuts of Doug Sahm and Willie Nelson, died May 7 2006 in Luling, his home of more than 55 years.

A native of Hallettsville, Fitch enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940, served as a tail gunner on B-17 bombers during World War II, and was a German prisoner of war in 1944-45.

He married Bennie Lou Bassett of Luling in September 1945 and worked at San Antonio’s Brooks Air Force Base until his honorable discharge in 1950. He then moved to Luling and started the Luling Phonograph & Record Shop, and began Sarg Records in December 1953 with Neal Merritt‘s “Korean Love Song.” In 1954 Dave Isbell & the Mission City Playboys, featuring Willie Nelson on lead guitar, recorded for the label, and a 12-year-old Doug Sahm released “A Real American Joe” in January 1955.

Drawing from a talent pool that stretched from Houston to San Antonio to South Texas for more than 35 years, Sarg released more than 150 singles in Western swing, country, polka, rockabilly, rock & roll, R&B, and conjunto; its biggest hit was Cecil Moore‘s 1964 instrumental “Diamond Back.”

Fitch was also Caldwell County’s Veterans Services Officer for several years and is survived by three daughters and a son. In 1999, Dutch label Bear Family released the still-available 4-CD box set The Sarg Records Anthology. Charles Wesley Fitch was 87 years old.

Christopher Gray: Austin Chronicle
Andrew Brown: Luling Newsboy & Signal