Charlie Rich

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Charlie Rich
Charlie Rich 1973.JPG
Rich in 1973
Background information
Birth nameCharles Allan Rich
Born(1932-12-14)December 14, 1932
Colt, Arkansas, United States
DiedJuly 25, 1995(1995-07-25) (aged 62)
Hammond, Louisiana, United States
Genres Country, countrypolitan, rockabilly, jazz, blues, Gospel, blue-eyed soul
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active1958–1995
Labels Sun, Phillips, Groove / RCA, Smash Records, Hi Records, Epic, UA, Elektra, Sire
Associated acts Roger Miller, Janie Fricke
Website CharlieRich.com

Charles Allan Rich (December 14, 1932 July 25, 1995) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. His eclectic style of music was often difficult to classify, encompassing the rockabilly, jazz, blues, country, soul, and gospel genres. [1]

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues.

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll. Some have also described it as a blend of bluegrass with rock and roll. The term "rockabilly" itself is a portmanteau of "rock" and "hillbilly", the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, and electric blues.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Contents

In the later part of his life, Rich acquired the nickname the Silver Fox. He is perhaps best remembered for a pair of 1973 hits, "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl". "The Most Beautiful Girl" topped the U.S. country singles charts, as well as the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles charts and earned him two Grammy Awards. Rich was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

"Behind Closed Doors" is a country song written by Kenny O'Dell. It was first recorded by Charlie Rich for his 1973 album Behind Closed Doors. The single was Rich's first number-one hit on the country charts, spent 20 weeks on this chart, and was also a crossover hit on the pop charts. It was certified Platinum by the RIAA for U. S. sales in excess of two million copies. Background vocals were provided by The Nashville Edition.

The Most Beautiful Girl 1973 single by Charlie Rich

"The Most Beautiful Girl" is a song recorded by Charlie Rich and written by Billy Sherrill, Norro Wilson, and Rory Bourke. The countrypolitan ballad reached number 1 in the United States in 1973 on three Billboard music charts: the pop chart, the country chart, and the adult contemporary chart, as well as in Canada on three RPM charts: the RPM 100 Top Singles chart, the Country Tracks chart, and the Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 23 song for 1974.

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

Early life

Rich was born in Colt, Arkansas, to rural cotton farmers. He graduated from Consolidated High School in Forrest City, where he played saxophone in the band. He was strongly influenced by his parents, members of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Forrest City, as his mother, Helen Rich, played piano and his father sang in gospel quartets. A black sharecropper on the family land named C. J. Allen taught Rich blues piano. He enrolled at Arkansas State College on a football scholarship and then transferred to the University of Arkansas as a music major after a football injury. He left after one semester to join the United States Air Force in 1953.

Colt, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Colt is a city in St. Francis County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 378 at the 2010 census, an increase from 368 in 2000. It was the birthplace of country singer Charlie Rich.

Cotton plant fiber from the genus Gossypium

Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will increase the dispersal of the seeds.

University of Arkansas Public research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

The University of Arkansas is a public land-grant, research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and the largest, best-known university in the state. Founded as Arkansas Industrial University in 1871, its present name was adopted in 1899 and classes were first held on January 22, 1872. It is noted for its strong architecture, agriculture, business, communication disorders, creative writing, history, law, and Middle Eastern studies programs.

While stationed in Enid, Oklahoma, he formed "the Velvetones," playing jazz and blues and featuring his wife, Margaret Ann, on vocals. [1] He and Margaret Ann Greene had married in 1952. Upon leaving the military in 1956, they returned to the West Memphis area to farm 500 acres. He also began performing in clubs around the Memphis area, playing both jazz and R&B. During these times, he began writing his own material.

Enid, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Enid (ē'nĭd) is a city in Garfield County, Oklahoma, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,379, making it the ninth-largest city in Oklahoma. It is the county seat of Garfield County. Enid was founded during the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in the Land Run of 1893, and is named after Enid, a character in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King. In 1991, the Oklahoma state legislature designated Enid the "purple martin capital of Oklahoma." Enid holds the nickname of "Queen Wheat City" and "Wheat Capital" of Oklahoma and the United States for its immense grain storage capacity, and has the third-largest grain storage capacity in the world.

Memphis, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. The 2017 city population was 652,236, making Memphis the largest city on the Mississippi River, second-largest city in Tennessee, as well as the 25th largest city in the United States. Greater Memphis is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. As one of the most historic and cultural cities of the southern United States, the city features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.

Career

After recording some demonstration songs for Sam Phillips at Sun Records that Phillips considered not commercial enough and "too jazzy", he was given a stack of Jerry Lee Lewis records and told: "Come back when you get that bad." In a September 6, 2010, NPR airing of a 1992 interview with Fresh Air host Terry Gross, Charlie Rich tells the story, himself, of Bill Justis telling Rich's wife those words. [2] In 1958, Rich became a regular session musician for Sun Records, playing on a variety of records by Lewis, Johnny Cash, Bill Justis, Warren Smith, Billy Lee Riley, Carl Mann, and Ray Smith. He also wrote several songs for Lewis, Cash, and others.

Sam Phillips American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ

Samuel Cornelius Phillips was an American record producer who played an important role in the development of rock and roll during the 1950s. He was the founder of Sun Records and Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, where he produced recordings by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Howlin' Wolf. He launched Presley's career in 1954. Phillips sold Sun in 1969 to Shelby Singleton.

Sun Records American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950

Sun Records is an American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950. Sun was the first company to record Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Jerry Lee Lewis American singer-songwriter and pianist

Jerry Lee Lewis is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as "rock & roll's first great wild man."

His third single for the Sun subsidiary, Phillips International Records, was the 1960 Top 30 hit, "Lonely Weekends", which was notable for its Presley-like vocals. It sold more than one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America. [1] None of his seven follow-up singles was a success, however, though several of the songs became staples in his live set, including "Who Will the Next Fool Be", "Sittin' and Thinkin'", and "No Headstone on My Grave". These songs were often recorded by others to varying degrees of success, such as the Bobby Bland version of "Who Will the Next Fool Be".

Phillips International Records is a sub-label of Sun Records started by Sam Phillips in October 1957.

Elvis Presley American singer and actor

Elvis Aaron Presley, commonly known as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

"Rich's jazzy chops and heartfelt polish transform Nashville's best chicken fat into high-quality mainstream pop—Arkansas's answer to Nat Cole. Cole was better at it, but I prefer Rich's homely subject matter and rock and roll roots."

Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981) [3]

Rich's career then stalled and he left the struggling Sun label in 1963, signing with a subsidiary of RCA Victor, Groove. His first single for Groove, "Big Boss Man", was a minor hit, but again, his Chet Atkins-produced follow-ups all stiffed. Rich moved to Smash Records early in 1965. Rich's new producer, Jerry Kennedy, encouraged the pianist to emphasize his country and rock n' roll leanings, although Rich considered himself a jazz pianist and had not paid much attention to country music since his childhood. The first single for Smash was "Mohair Sam", an R&B-inflected novelty-rock number written by Dallas Frazier, and it became a top 30 pop hit. Unfortunately again for Rich, none of his follow-up singles was successful. Rich was forced to change labels, moving to Hi Records, where he recorded blue-eyed soul music and straight country, but none of his singles made a dent on the country or pop charts. One Hi Records track, "Love Is After Me", from 1966, belatedly became a white soul favorite in the early-1970s.

Career peak in the 1970s

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 Sound balladeer during an era when old rock 'n' roll artists like Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty were finding a new musical home in the country and western format. This new "countrypolitan" Rich sound paid off in the summer of 1972, when "I Take It on Home" went to number six on the country charts. The title track from his 1973 album Behind Closed Doors became a number-one country hit early in that year, then crossing over into the top 20 on the pop charts. This time, his follow-up single did not disappoint, as "The Most Beautiful Girl" spent three weeks at the top of the country charts and two weeks at the top of the pop charts. Now that he was established as a country music star, 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. The album was also certified gold. Rich won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and he took home four Academy of Country Music awards. One of RCA's several resident songwriters, Marvin Walters, co-wrote for three years with Charlie, producing four recordings including a very popular "Set Me Free".

After "The Most Beautiful Girl," number-one hits came quickly, as five songs topped the country charts in 1974 and crossed over to the pop charts. The songs were "There Won't Be Anymore" (pop number 18), "A Very Special Love Song" (pop number 11), "I Don't See Me In Your Eyes Anymore" (pop number 47), "I Love My Friend" (pop number 24), and "She Called Me Baby" (pop number 47). Both RCA and Mercury (Smash was a subsidiary of Mercury which was absorbed into the main company in 1970) re-released his previously recorded material from the mid-1960s, as well. All of this success led the CMA to name him Entertainer of the Year in 1974. In the same year he performed the Academy Award-nominated theme song "I Feel Love (Benji's Theme)" from the film Benji. Rich had three more top-five hits in 1975, but though he was at the peak of his popularity, Rich began to drink heavily, causing considerable problems off-stage.

CMA awards 1975

Rich's destructive personal behavior famously culminated at the CMA awards ceremony for 1975, when he presented the award for Entertainer of the Year, while visibly intoxicated. [4] After stumbling through the names of the nominees, Rich clumsily tore open the envelope, took out a cigarette lighter, and lit the paper on fire with the winner's name. While the paper burned, he announced that the winner of the award was "My friend Mr. John Denver." [5] Some considered it an act of rebellion against the Music Row-controlled Nashville Sound. Others speculated that Rich's behavior was a protest against the award going to Denver, whose music Rich had considered too "pop" and not enough "country". [4] Many, including industry insiders, were outraged, and Rich had trouble having hits throughout 1976, and only had one top-ten with "Since I Fell For You".

In a 2016 interview, former CMA Executive Director Jo Walker-Meador speculated that Rich's drunkenness may have been in part due to resentment over his being shut out of the nominations that year, after his success at the 1974 awards. His son Charlie, Jr., says on his website: "...why did he do it? I'll tell you why I thought he did it. #1 He thought it would be funny. He set it up by talking about how the potential winners were probably nervous, as he had been the previous year. #2 Bad judgement. He had recently broken his foot in a freak accident at his home in Memphis. It sounds funny, but he got his foot caught in an awkward position while getting out of a reclining chair. He cracked several bones in his foot. So...Due to the pain, he took pain medication the night of the show: Bad idea! Secondly, he and another country star got to drinking gin and tonics while waiting in the dressing room. The show was long, so by the time Dad was supposed to go on, the drinks on top of the medication got him buzzed. So, there ya' go. That's why I think he did it. Primarily he thought it would be funny. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician. He felt badly that people thought it was a statement against John Denver." [4]

The slump in his career was exacerbated by the fact that his records began to sound increasingly similar: pop-inflected country ballads with overdubbed strings and little of the jazz or blues Rich had performed his entire life. He did not have a top-10 hit again until "Rollin' With the Flow" went to number one on the country charts (as well as number 32 on the easy listening charts) in 1977. Early the following year, in 1978, he signed with United Artists Records, and throughout that year, he had hits on both Epic and UA. His hits in 1978 included the top-10 hits "Beautiful Woman", "Puttin' In Overtime At Home", and his last number one with "On My Knees", a duet with Janie Fricke.

Decline in activity and semiretirement

Rich struggled throughout 1979 having hits with United Artists and Epic. His singles were moderate hits that year, the biggest of them on either UA or Epic was a version of "Spanish Eyes", which became a top-20 country hit. Rich appeared as himself in the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie, Every Which Way but Loose , in which he performed the song "I'll Wake You Up When I Get Home". This song hit number three on the charts in 1979 and was the last top-10 single of his career. In 1980, he switched labels again to Elektra Records, and released a 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, the Gary Stewart song "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 off his investments in semiretirement and only playing occasional concerts. He also played a bit part in the 1981 movie Take This Job and Shove It which yielded his last charted single, "You Made It Beautiful".

In 1992, Rich released Pictures and Paintings, a jazzy album that was produced by journalist Peter Guralnick. This album was released via Sire Records. Pictures and Paintings received positive critical reviews and restored Rich's reputation as a musician, but it was his last album. In 2016, a tribute album entitled Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich was released by Memphis International Records. Tom Waits, who was an opening act for Rich in the 1970s, mentions him in the song "Putnam County" from his album Nighthawks at the Diner with the lyric: "The radio's spitting out Charlie Rich... He sure can sing, that son of a bitch."

Death

Charlie Rich and his wife were driving to Florida for a vacation after seeing their son Allan perform with Freddy Fender at Lady Luck Casino in Natchez, Mississippi, when he experienced a bout of severe coughing. [6] After visiting a doctor in St. Francisville, Louisiana, and receiving antibiotics, he continued traveling until he stopped to rest for the night. Rich died in his sleep on July 25, 1995, in a Hammond, Louisiana, motel; he was 62 years old. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. He was buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. [ citation needed ]

At the time of his death, Rich was survived by his wife of 43 years, Margaret, two sons and two daughters, and three grandchildren. Margaret Rich died in Germantown, Tennessee, on July 22, 2010, and was buried alongside her husband.[ citation needed ]

Discography

Awards

Academy of Country Music

American Music Awards

Country Music Association

Grammy Awards

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 128. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  2. "Charlie Rich: The Silver Fox With A Big Country Sound". Npr.org. September 6, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  3. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies . Ticknor & Fields. ISBN   089919026X . Retrieved March 10, 2019 via robertchristgau.com.
  4. 1 2 3 "The Envelope Burning". Charlie Rich Jr. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  5. Prachi Gupta (June 13, 2014). "Today in '70s nostalgia: Watch Charlie Rich burn John Denver at the 1975 CMAs". Salon.com. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  6. "SOULFUL SILVER FOX - Sun original, country innovator dies". Memphis Commercial Appeal. July 26, 1995.

Further reading

Guralnick, Peter. "Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues & Rock n Roll" Release Date:September 1994

Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers