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Charlie Rich - His Life and Music

Updated on December 10, 2011
The Silver Fox(Charlie Rich)
The Silver Fox(Charlie Rich)

Early Years

One of the most underrated and talented musical performs of the 20th century was Charlie Rich. Although his career spanned four decades, he is best remembered for his 1973 hits "The most Beautiful Girl in the World" and "Behind close Doors."

Charlie Rich was born into a farming family in Colt, Arkansas on December 14, 1932. Rich spent his early years growing up in Colt till he joined the Air Force in the early 1950's. During his time in the Air Force, he begun his singing career forming a group called the Velvetones. Following his discharge from the Air Force, and after a failed attempt at farming, Rich begun to perform at the clubs there in the Memphis area. Rich was able to get steady work with Judd Records as a session musician. Later in 1958 he recorded a few tracks for the owner of Sun Records, but Sam Phillips didn't think his jazzy style of music was marketable. As the story goes, Rich was able to secure a position as a session musician for Sun Records, after studying the playing style of Jerry lee Lewis.

During his time at Sun records, Charlie Rich played backup on many of the records recorded by Johnny Cash, Billy Riley, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Also, he wrote songs for Riley, Lewis and Johnny Cash. In August 1958, Rich released his first song "Whirlwind." This song didn't chart well, and he wouldn't have a top 30 hit until 1960 with "Lonely Weekends." Following this song, none of his next few releases was successful. Going into the 1960's his career stalled. Rich left Sun Records in 1964 to record with an affiliate of RCA(Groove). He had some limited success with the single "Big Boss Man," but when Groove records went out of business, he signed with Smash Records(Mercury) in 1965; while here, Rich had some success with a release called "Mohair Sam."

Epic Records

In 1967 Epic Records decided to take a chance on Rich despite his lack of consistent success. Under the guidance of producer Bill Sherrill, Rich remade himself into a smooth Nashville middle of the road performer. At first his hits were moderately successful, but by the summer of 1972, Rich's songs were appearing in the top ten. The song "I Take it on Home" set the stage for his break though to mainstream appeal. In early 1973 the album "Behind Close Doors" was released. The album earned Charlie Rich awards from the Country Music Association, Best single of the year and Album of the year. In addition, the album went gold, and earned him a Grammy. The title track was a number one hit on country charts and a top twenty on the pop charts. As a result of the success of "Behind close doors", RCA Re-released some of his older songs including "Tomorrow Night," which made the top thirty on its re-release. However, it was "The most Beautiful Girl" that made Charlie Rich a star.

Following "The Most Beautiful Girl" album, the number one's came quickly. Capitalizing on his success, RCA re-released more of his older songs including "A Very Special Love Song," "I Don't See Me in Your Eyes Anymore" and "She Called Me Baby." All these songs were topping the country charts, and some crossed over to the pop charts. Mercury decided to re-release a few of the songs recorded under their label. When "A Field of Yellow Daisies"(written by his wife) and "Something Just Came Over Me" were re-released in 1974, they both were minor hits. Also, In 1974 Rich was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association(CMA). When 1975 came, he didn't dominate the charts as he did in1974. Rich had three top 5 hits and one top ten. Despite Rich being at the height of popular, Charlie began to drink heavy, which was causing him problems. Because of the outrage he caused showing up at the 1975 CMA awards intoxicated, and the quality of his singing going down, it prevented his records from being in the top ten until his 1977 release "Rollin' With the Flow."

Latter Years

In 1978 Rich signed with United Artist. Though 1978 he had hits on Epic and the United Artist label. During 1979 he struggles to get a number one hit, but only had minor ones. In 1980 he switches to Eleka, which produced the number twelve single "A Man Just Don't Know What a Woman Goes Through." Rich's final hit in early 1981 was "Are We Dreamin' the Same Dream." Then for the next eleven years, Rich went into semi-retirement until he re-emerged in 1992 with an album "Pictures and Paintings." This album received good reviews and would be his last. During the summer of 1995, while traveling to Florida, Charlie Rich passed away as a result of a blood clot in his lungs. His wife Margaret Ann was at his side as she had always been for years before, and in 1998 Charlie Rich was posthumous awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame for "Behind Closed Doors."

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    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 6 years ago

      Charlie had a super smooth voice, a real standout too, miss his voice.....

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @ahorseback - I know what you mean, listening his voice is kinda like drinking fine wine. You are right, he is smooth.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      A nice bio of Charlie Rich. I was in my late teens when the Sun music crowd started being played.I didn't really follow music so I heard various things on radio and at dances. So I heard these artists from time to time but didn't know much about them, except Elvis, Johnnie Cash and Jerrie Lee Lewis who were hard to ignore. Other people seem to be more aware than I am of record labels so Sun didn't mean anything to me.

      I appreciate some of this more than I used to.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @dahoglund - I know what you mean. As for me I grew up listening to my dad play this type music. With the type of crap that is being called music now-a-days, I am liking the old stuff more and more. Thanks for your feedback. It is nice to hear from you :)

    • joe w bennett profile image

      joe w bennett 6 years ago from Clinton, MS, US of A

      Thanks for reminding folks how great Charlie was. I don't care much for his later Epic records (w/a few exceptions like "Feel Like Going Home") but really dig the Sun, Smash and early Epic stuff. If you haven't heard it, check out "Life's Little Ups and Downs," from his '69 Epic LP "The Fabulous Charlie Rich" (which also has the great "July 12, 1939"). Written by MA, in my opinion "Life's Little..." was his masterpiece.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Coolmon, Thanks for the information and songs for Charlie Rich. I always thought he had the most beautiful voice.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice tribute to Charlie Rich.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Beautiful music. Thank you again for making a beautiful hub to honor him!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Joe W Bennett - I am glad you enjoyed this article. I have "Life's Little Ups and Downs" in my MP3/CD collection. It is one of my favorites too. Thank you for leaving feedback on this hub :)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
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      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Pamela99 - Yes he does have a beautiful voice. It is nice to hear from you again too :)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Sandyspider - Thanks for the kind words :)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Micky Dee - I am Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by :)

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 6 years ago

      Yep, you did it again. One of my favorite artist is "The Silver Fox" Charlie Rich I have a huge vinyl collection that I am converting to a digital format. I love Keep Rolling With the Flow, The Most Beautiful Girl, Nice and Easy and More. Sam Philips, Little Richard and the guy who first had the opportunity to sign Tobey Keith made the same mistake. Sam with Charlie, Little Richard with the Beatles and of course the guy that told Toby Keith " to keep his day job. There was 12 song on the demo this genius turned down, 10 of them became number 1's. Platinumowl4 says: It you think you can do,do it.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @platinumOwl4 - Thanks for your feedback. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

    • profile image

      ThePeeDeeWildcat 6 years ago from Just Across The State Line

      I agree with you! Charlie Rich was too underrated. Perhaps it was because he was contemporary not only with Presley, Lewis, Cash and Perkins, but also Conway Twitty, Mickey Gilley and George Jones. That was alot of top rated talent to compete against day in and day out! On a personal note, I always liked Rich's rendition of "Rollin' With The Flow". It was an optimistic song to me.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @ThePeeDeeWildcat - You have a valid point. The talent and competition was fierce back in his day. Thanks for adding your insights to this article :)

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      cool hub Thanks for sharing this amazing musician with the world ;0)

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @manthy - Thanks for your comments and for reading this hub.

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

      I have not heard that song in a long time. A country classic, and I do like country music. It's nice to be thought of as 'a lady' even behind closed doors rather than some of the names new music 'labels' women. Voted-up/rated.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Support Med - I know what you mean, it is nice to be respected. Thanks for your comments :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      When I saw your title, Charlie Rich Music, I thought who is Charlie Rich, as read I had an Ah Ha! moment!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @katiem2 - Thanks for your feedback :)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I never know about Charlie Rich before. But I really enjoy to read his biography from this hub. Thanks, my friend. Now, I know another talented person in music industry from you. I thought he was part of the history. Thank you very much. Vote this up!

      Prasetio

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @prasetio30 - He was truly one of the underrated greats of the 20th century. Nice to hear from you again :)

    • Tiffany Latte profile image

      Tiffany Latte 6 years ago from USA

      Your hub is like your name cool. Great hub.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Tiffany Latte - Thank you for your kind words :)

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      very great bio

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @e - Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Dr irum profile image

      Dr irum 6 years ago

      Nice collection of information , i did not know before this . So thanks to share .

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Dr irum - Charlie Rich is one of the greats. Thank you for your feedback on this article.

    • profile image

      ed burns 6 years ago

      Nice story of charlie you portrayed here.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @ed burns - I am glad you like it thanks.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I remember Charlie and his songs very well. I made the switch to country when hard rock started.

      Great Hub!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image
      Author

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      @WillStarr - Thank you for your comments :)

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