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Charlie Rich

Charlie Rich was simultaneously one of the most critically acclaimed and most erratic country singers of post-World War II era. Rich had all the elements of being one of the great country stars of the '60s and '70s, but his popularity never matched his critical notices. What made him a critical favorite also kept him from mass success. Throughout his career, Rich willfully bended genres, fusing country, jazz, blues, gospel, rockabilly, and soul. Though he had 45 country hits in a career that spanned nearly four decades, he became best-known for his lush, Billy Sherrill-produced countrypolitan records of the early '70s. Instead of embracing the stardom those records brought him, Rich shunned it, retreating into semiretirement by the '80s.

Rich began his professional musical career while he was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the early '50s. While he was stationed in Oklahoma, he formed a group called the Velvetones, which played jazz and blues and featured his fiancée, Margaret Ann, on lead vocals. Rich left the military in 1956, and he began performing clubs around the Memphis area, playing both jazz and R&B; he also began writing his own material. Rich managed to land a job as a session musician for Judd Records, which was owned by Judd Phillips, the brother of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Around this time, saxophonist and Sun recording artist Bill Justis heard Rich play at the Sharecropper Club and asked the pianist to write arrangements for him. Sam saw Rich perform with Justis at a club gig and asked him to record some demos at Sun Studios. Phillips rejected the resulting demos, claiming they were too jazzy. After absorbing some Jerry Lee Lewis records Justis gave him, Rich returned to Sun quickly and became a regular session musician for the label in 1958, playing and/or singing on records by Lewis, Johnny Cash, Justis, Warren Smith, Billy Lee Riley, Carl Mann, and Ray Smith. He was also writing songs, including "Break Up" for Lewis, "The Ways of a Woman in Love" for Cash, and "I'm Comin' Home" for Mann, which was later cut by Elvis Presley.

In August of 1958, Rich released his first single, "Whirlwind," for the Sun subsidiary Phillips International. Throughout 1959, he recorded a number of songs at Sun, though only a handful were actually released. Rich didn't have a hit until 1960, when his third Phillips International single, "Lonely Weekends," became a Top 30 pop hit. However, none of its seven follow-up singles were a success, though several of the songs would become staples in his set, including "Who Will the Next Fool Be?," "Sittin' and Thinkin'," and "Midnight Blues." In the early '60s, Rich's career remained stalled. He left Sun Records in 1964, signing with Groove, a newly established subsidiary of RCA. His first single, "Big Boss Man," was an underground, word-of-mouth hit, but its Chet Atkins-produced follow-ups all stiffed. On Groove, he jazzily interpreted standards, but he also performed a handful of originals, including "Tomorrow Night" and "I Don't See Me in Your Eyes Anymore." Groove went out of business by the beginning of 1965, leaving Rich without a record contract.

Under the direction of Shelby Singleton, Smash Records signed Rich early in 1965. Singleton and Rich's producer, Jerry Kennedy, encouraged the pianist to emphasize his country and rock & roll leanings. The first single for Smash was "Mohair Sam," an R&B-inflected novelty number written by Dallas Frazier. "Mohair Sam" became a Top 30 pop hit, but none of its follow-ups were successful. Again, Rich changed labels, moving over to Hi Records, where he recorded straight country, but none of his singles for the label made any impression on the country charts.

Despite his lack of consistent commercial success, Epic Records signed Rich in 1967, mainly on the recommendation of producer Billy Sherrill. Sherrill helped Rich refashion himself as a Nashville-based, smooth, middle-of-the-road balladeer. At first, the singles were only moderately successful -- "Set Me Free" and "Raggedy Ann" charted in the mid-40s in 1968 -- but persistence paid off in the summer of 1972, when "I Take It on Home" rocketed to number six. "I Take It on Home" set the stage for Rich's big breakthrough into the mainstream, 1973's Behind Closed Doors album. The title track from the record became a number one hit early in 1973, crossing over into the Top 20 on the pop charts. Following the success of "Behind Closed Doors," RCA re-released "Tomorrow Night," which reached the Top 30, but it was "The Most Beautiful Girl," the proper follow-up to his first number one single, that established him as a star. "The Most Beautiful Girl" spent three weeks at the top of the country charts and two weeks at the top of the pop charts. Behind Closed Doors won three awards from the Country Music Association that year: Best Male Vocalist, Album of the Year, and Single of the Year for the title track. The album was also certified gold, Rich won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, and he also took home four ACM awards.

After "The Most Beautiful Girl," number one hits came quickly -- "There Won't Be Anymore" (re-released from his RCA sessions), "A Very Special Love Song," "I Don't See Me in Your Eyes Anymore" (also from RCA), "I Love My Friend," and "She Called Me Baby" (RCA) all topped the country charts, and several of the songs also crossed over into the pop charts. Mercury began re-releasing his Smash recordings, and two of them -- "A Field of Yellow Daisies" and "Something Just Came Over Me" -- became minor hits. All of this success led the CMA to name him Entertainer of the Year in 1974.

Rich didn't quite dominate the charts in 1975 as he did the previous year, but he did have three Top Five hits: "My Elusive Dreams," "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)," and "All Over Me," plus the Top Ten "Since I Fell For You." Even though he was at the peak of his popularity, Rich had begun to drink heavily, causing considerable problems off-stage. His destructive behavior culminated at the CMA ceremony for 1975, when he presented the award for that year's Entertainer of the Year. Instead of reading the name of the winner, he set fire to the certificate that named the new winner, who happened to be John Denver. Fans and industry insiders were outraged, and Rich had trouble having hits throughout 1976 -- none of his singles cracked the Top 20.

The slump in his career couldn't be completely attributed to Rich's behavior. His records had begun to sound increasingly similar, as he and Sherrill were working over the same territory they began exploring in 1968. There were exceptions -- such as 1976's acclaimed gospel record, Silver Linings -- but it took Rich until 1977 to break back into the Top Ten with the number one "Rollin' With the Flow." Early in 1978, he signed with United Artists and throughout that year had hits on both Epic and UA. Rich worked at United Artists with Larry Butler, a producer who had a similar style to Sherrill. Epic continued to have hits, as "Beautiful Woman" reached the Top Ten in the summer and a duet with Janie Fricke, "On My Knees," became his last number one hit that fall. "I'll Wake You Up When I Get Home," taken from the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way But Loose, was a number three hit early in 1979; it would be his last Top Ten single.

Rich struggled to have a big hit throughout 1979, but none of his singles were anything more than a minor success. In 1980, he switched labels to Elektra, resulting in the number 12 single "A Man Just Don't Know What a Woman Goes Through" in the fall of that year. One more Top 40 hit followed -- "Are We Dreamin' the Same Dream" early in 1981 -- but Rich decided to remove himself from the spotlight. For over a decade, Rich was silent, living in semiretirement and only playing the occasional concert. He returned in 1992 with Pictures and Paintings, a jazzy record produced by journalist Peter Guralnick and released on Sire.

Pictures and Paintings received positive reviews and restored Rich's reputation, but it would be his last record. Rich died from a blood clot in his lung in the summer of 1995, when he was travelling to Florida with his wife, Margaret Ann. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: The Complete Sun Masters

Disc 1

1. Whirlwind

2. Philadelphia Baby

3. Rebound

4. Big Man

5. Lonely Weekends

6. Everything I Do Is Wrong

7. School Days

8. Gonna Be Waitin'

9. On My Knees

10. Stay

11. Who Will The Next Fool Be?

12. Caught In The Middle

13. Just A Little Bit Sweet

14. It's Too Late

15. Easy Money

16. Midnight Blues

17. Sittin' And Thinkin'

18. Finally Found Out

19. There's Another Place I Can't Go

20. I Need Your Love

21. Sad News

22. Red Man

23. C.C. Rider

24. Come Back

25. Apple Blossom Time

26. Break Up

27. That's How Much I Love You

28. Juanita

29. Whirlwind (Undubbed)

30. School Days (Undubbed)

31. It's Too Late (Undubbed)

32. Come Back (Undubbed)

Disc 2

1. My Baby Done Left Me

2. Charlie's Boogie

3. Blue Suede Shoes

4. Juicehead Baby

5. Baby, I Need You

6. Oh, Lonely Days

7. Portrait Of My Love

8. Seven Dreams

9. Waiting All Alone

10. The Ways Of A Woman In Love

11. Thanks A Lot

12. It Hurt Me So

13. Donna Lee

14. Never Mind Little Girl

15. I Love No One But You

16. Deep Freeze

17. Popcorn Polly

18. Give In

19. Those Places Round Town

20. Sail Away

21. Am I To Be The One?

22. Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair

23. Unchained Melody

24. I've Lost My Heart To You

25. My Heart Cries For You

26. Right Behind You Baby

27. The Loneliest Days

28. Lonely Hurt Within

29. Now Everybody Knows

30. Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave

31. That's Rich

32. Time And Again

33. Goodbye, Mary Ann

34. Gentle As A Lamb

35. Rock & Roll Party

36. You Never Know About Love

37. Lonely Weekends

Disc 3

1. Little Woman Friend Of Mine

2. Time's A-Wasting

3. You Made A Hit

4. Yes, Ma'am

5. Stop Thief

6. What's My Name?

7. How Blue Can You Be?

8. I Said Baby

9. Cloud Nine

10. Ain't It A Shame?

11. The Wedding Is Over

12. Unsuspecting Me

13. If You Knew

14. Somehow We'll Find A Way

15. Every Day (And Every Night)

16. There Won't Be Anymore

17. Closed For Repair

18. (We Belong To) Each Other

19. Untitled Instrumental

20. Long Way To Tennessee

21. Every Day (That You're Away From Me)

22. Baby, I Need You

23. When

24. My Mountain Dew

25. Graveyardville

26. Ballad Of Billy Joe (Undubbed)

27. Since You Said Goodbye

28. Too Many Tears

29. Little By Little

30. Life Is A Flower

31. I'm Making Plans

32. Stop Fakin' Your Love (Alternate)

33. Sail Away


Track List: Set Me Free / The Fabulous Charlie Rich

1. Set Me Free

2. By The Time I Get To Phoenix

4. I Miss You So

5. Just Like Old Times

6. Try A Little Tenderness

7. H2O

8. Very Much Alone

9. I'll Just Go Away

10. That's The Day (You Said You'd Stop Loving Me)

11. Got To See My Baby

12. I Almost Lost My Mind

13. Life Has Its Little Ups And Downs

14. San Francisco Is A Lonely Town

15. Sittin' And Thinkin'

16. July 12, 1939

18. Raggedy Ann

19. Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue)

20. A Picture Of You

21. Love Waits For Me


Track List: Boss Man / Very Special Love Songs

1. Nice 'N' Easy

2. Have A Heart

3. Down On The River

4. I Can't Even Drink It Away

5. Memphis And Arkansas Bridge

6. Big Boss Man

7. Hello Darlin'

8. Golden Slipper Rose

9. I'll Be More Than Happy (To Set You Free)

10. My Joy


Track List: Greatest Hits

1. The Most Beautiful Girl

2. A Very Special Love Song

3. Since I Fell For You

4. My Elusive Dreams

5. Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)

6. Behind Closed Doors

7. Life Has Its Little Ups And Downs

8. All Over Me

9. I Love My Friend

10. America, The Beautiful (1976)


Track List: Behind Closed Doors

1. Behind Closed Doors

2. If You Wouldn't Be My Lady

3. You Never Really Wanted Me

4. A Sunday Kind Of Woman

5. Peace On You

6. The Most Beautiful Girl

7. I Take It On Home

8. 'Til I Can't Take It Anymore

9. We Love Each Other

11. Nothing In The World (To Do With Me)


Track List: That's Rich

1. Whirlwind

2. Lonely Weekends

3. Rebound

4. Philadelphia Baby

5. Break Up

6. School Days

7. Juanita

8. Big Man

9. Easy Money

10. C.C. Rider

11. Gonna Be Waitin'

12. Everything I Do Is Wrong

13. On My Knees

14. Stay

15. Who Will The Next Fool Be

16. Caught In The Middle

17. Just A Little Bit Sweet

18. It's Too Late

19. Now Everybody Knows

20. Midnite Blues

21. Sittin' And Thinkin'

22. Finally Found Out

23. There's Another Place I Can't Go

24. I Need Your Love

25. It Hurts Me So

26. My Baby's Done Left Me

27. Juice Head Baby

28. Ways Of A Woman In Love

29. Blue Suede Shoes

30. Charlie's Boogie


Track List: Boss Man

1. Nice 'N' Easy

2. Have A Heart

3. Down On The River

4. I Can't Even Drink It Away

5. Memphis And Arkansas Bridge

6. Big Boss Man

7. Hello, Darlin'

8. Golden Slipper Rose

9. I'll Be More Than Happy (To Set You Free)


Track List: I'll Shed No Tears

3. Hurry Up Freight Train

5. Can't Get Right

6. I'll Shed No Tears

7. To Fool A Fool

10. You Win Again

11. Cold, Cold Heart

12. Nobody's Lonesome For Me

13. They'll Never Take Her Love From Me

14. My Heart Would Know


Track List: The Complete Hi Recordings Of Charlie Rich

1. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby

2. Don't Tear Me Down

3. Pass On By

4. Love Is After Me

5. I'll Shed No Tears

6. Can't Get Right

7. To Fool A Fool

8. Hurry Up Freight Train

11. Who Will The Next Fool Be

17. My Heart Would Know

19. Half As Much

20. You Win Again

21. I Can't Help It

22. Hey, Good Lookin'

23. Your Cheatin' Heart

24. Cold, Cold Heart

25. Nobody's Lonesome For Me

26. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

27. Wedding Bells

28. They'll Never Take Her Love From Me


Track List: Very Special Love Songs

2. Why Don't We Go Somewhere And Love

3. Take Time To Love

4. A Satisfied Man

5. A Field Of Yellow Daisies

6. Why, Oh Why

7. Almost Persuaded

10. There Won't Be Anymore

11. Pretty People


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My favorite singer of all time! Takes me back to my first apartment and my first love... Charlie Rich in my new eight track stereo and mmmmmmmm.... .
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Great recording artist,bring s back memories of a honey from Paducah, Ky.
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I have always loved Charlie Rich's music, especially The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
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Great song from a great era in country music
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monicamguzma n 9
Great voice , beautiful songs!
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I do love "The Silver Fox"!! ☺❤❤❤☺❤❤❤☺
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Talk later
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Might see one today
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Conway sings it better
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One of my all-time favorite country artists. Love his smooth voice and style. As for my favorite songs: Very Special Love Song and Rollin With the Flow are at the top.
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I love Charlie Rich but i have to say, Conway Twitty does this song better.
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My baby makes me proud!!!!!
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The only bad thing is Pandora won't play my favorite song Rollin with the Flow!
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He looked similar to my father, Charlie Coy. With their white hairs....
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You are still a favorite
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Omg such a good song!!!
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the legend
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I saw Charlie Rich when I was just a kid. Intermission of the New Mexico State Fair always had a concert. My Grandma, Mother, and I always chose a Country Western singer. Saw so many of the Great Singing Performer's.
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shirleyowens 5 8
I always thought that this was a beautiful song. I just love it.
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Pretty woman by Roy Orbison plase
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Love Charlie. ..looks like Donnie. .R.I.P, both of U
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Love Charlie's wonderful. smooth voice and the way his lyrics reflect dreams, hopes and heartbreak of life.
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Great song!!!
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Mr Rich has that Southern versatility which makes the various forms of country music so pleasant!!
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The silver fox! Is one of a kind!
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This man did it with this f**king song! Love it Charlie Rich!
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Charlie Rich took Nashville by storm! He was like some of the best voices all in one artist. I still love each & every song. My personal request would be " Rolling With The Flow !"It reminds me of myself -the good & the regrets. The cliche about the crossroads we all encounter..G i v e n the chance, would we change our lives??RIP Mr Rich!The best, seem to be taken so abruptly. God must love good country music!
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awe!! @ tooquick63
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Awesome song, would hear it playing on the radio, in my dad's 64 impala when I was a little boy, day dreaming of my beautiful lady. And now 30 years later it still warms my heart......
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When Country was Country well what can I say...differ e n t I guess ..
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brings back many memeriors
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My mom used to play this song alot when I was little. Love it. Can't help but sing along to it.
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My parents had 2 restaurants in the 70's remember his music playing in the jukebox. Such a great man with talent and music writer doesn't get better then this! May God bless your soul Mr. Silver Fox: -) YES 70's & 80's music were the best!
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Charlie Rich was the best. Super talent. He could write, sing and play and arrange it, like no other. He was much more than a country music singer, Jazz, the blues gospel, super..He was the ultimate soul man. His bio. is very interesting. Read about him in the Lost highway, by Peter Guralick.

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1995 was a year of turmoil for me, and the year of new beginning for me also. It was the Silver Fox that kept me going, to listen to his music gave me hope and determinatio n to put one foot ahead of another. His music kept me going and put me to sleep many a sleepless night. I will always love Charlie Rich, he was the MAN, he inspired so many. 1995 was a new beginning for me and a new beginning for THE SILVER FOX, I feel he is singing his heart out in heaven, so sweetly, so to him I salute.
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Like this song.
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Wow!!!! Just good to hear his songs;)))))) >
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Love the silver fox!
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How can anyone say they don't like country after hearing sweet sounds like this. Some growing up to do maybe?
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A lady in the street but a freak in bed.
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Don't read this cause it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if u don't post this comment on at least 3 songs you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary... put this in at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and ur lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters. this is scary Cuz it actually works
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I knew the guy who wrote Behind Closes Doors, Norro Wilson. Would have been great had you included his name on the Rich biol.
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lil_ladyluck 7 7 7 6
O my...I can remember listening to Charlie Rich when I was just a kid and my favorite was behind closed doors among others...he was great...RIP
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My grandmother was in love with Charlie
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My oldest son would sing most beautiful girl in the world to his mother he was 9 years old at the time pretty good to influance a boy that young. He was great .
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A true silver Fox Loved his voice
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