November 28

45 Years Ago: Charlie Rich Recorded “Behind Closed Doors”

There are some things in this world are just meant for someone else. Such happens many times in the music world. For instance, there were various songs that someone wrote for others to make it into a big hit. The legendary singer of country music Charlie Rich was one of those countless musicians who experienced that. In 1973, he and producer Billy Sherrill were working on making Rich’s big hit. The two, however, couldn’t just get what they’re trying to achieve. Then, an Oklahoman country music singer and songwriter entered the picture and gave them something else. That something was the song “Behind Closed Doors” which Kenny O’Dell wrote.

A black and white photo of the "Behind Closed Doors" singer Charlie Rich.
Photo credit: Charlie Rich’s Official Website

Some Interesting Facts About the Song

The fact that the song “Behind Closed Doors” became a successful hit in the ‘70s will remain as such especially to those who were able to witness it. But behind the song’s success lies several interesting facts that, perhaps, only a few are aware of. One of these was the inspiration of the song.

Kenny O’Dell penned “Behind Closed Doors” at the height of the Watergate scandal. That’s the reason why its lyrics drew heavy reference from the series of non-public sessions that the Congressional Committee had. The said team was the investigating group at Watergate at that time. In an interview with Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International, O’Dell explained further,

“They’re always talking about no one know what goes on behind closed doors. Having the sessions, another session, behind closed doors. And I’m thinking, I like the title, ‘Behind Closed Doors.'”

How the song got recorded by Charlie Rich was another interesting fact. Instead of recording his self-penned tune, O’Dell tried offering it to someone who’s struggling to make a big hit at that time. Rich’s producer accepted O’Dell’s offer and the former eventually recorded the song. O’Dell, on the other hand, played the rhythm guitar. Surprisingly, the recording went successful and gave Rich his first No. 1 hit on the country chart. Aside from that, he won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for the song. For his part, O’Dell bagged the CMA and ACM Awards for Song of the Year.

Conversely, some radio stations banned the song initially due to its lyrical content which was considered as too racy for their listeners. Yet, its success transcended this issue. In fact, several country artists, including Ronnie Milsap, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton, even recorded their version of the song.

Watch Charlie Rich perform his first top country hit, “Behind Closed Doors,” below.


Behind Closed Doors, Billy Sherrill, charlie rich, First No. 1 Song, Kenny O’Dell, Watergate Scandal

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