A Star Is Born
An American country music singer-songwriter and musician, Charles Allan Rich or simply known as Charlie Rich is very much known for his wide-ranging vocal style. Actually, it was often difficult to categorize his style since it encompasses different genres like country, rockabilly, jazz, blues, and gospel.
Furthermore, Rich acquired a number of nicknames but the most popular that he received was Silver Fox. A superstar in the 1970’s, he is best remembered with his chart-topping hits, “The Most Beautiful Girl,” and “Behind Closed Doors.” With these two singles, Rich charted in both country and pop charts. Moreover, he amassed awards adding to his accolades. Most notably, he won two Grammy Awards. In 2015, Rich was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
Born on December 14, 1932, Charlie Rich grew up in the rural area of Colt, Arkansas. His parents were cotton farmers and members of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Forrest City. In his teenage years, he was a talented saxophonist in his band in high school. As active members of the church, his parents greatly influenced him in playing different instruments.
Later, he entered Arkansas State College under a football scholarship. However, he transferred to the University of Arkansas as a music major after a football injury. In 1953, he left the university to pursue and join the United States Air Force.
As a member of the U.S. Air Force, he was then stationed in Enid, Oklahoma. While he was there, he formed “The Velvetones,” where he played jazz and blues while his wife, Margaret Ann (whom he married in 1952), performed the vocals.
In 1956, he left the military and returned to West Memphis to farm 500 acres. He then continued playing in clubs and pubs in Memphis. During that time, he started writing and composing his own songs.
Twenty-three years ago today, the country music community lost one of the finest stars in the industry. The passing of Charlie Rich marked one of the saddest events in country music history.
While he and his wife were driving to Florida from Mississippi after watching their son Allan perform with Freddy Fender, Rich experienced a period of intense and severe coughing. This led them to visit a doctor in Louisiana where he received antibiotics. They then continued traveling until he stopped to rest for the night. Unfortunately, he passed away in his sleep on July 25, 1995, in a motel where he and his wife stayed for the night. He was 62 years old. Findings of his death showed that he suffered from Pulmonary Embolism. He was laid to rest at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
“The Most Beautiful Girl:” About the Song
Considered to be Rich’s signature song, “The Most Beautiful Girl” was a 1973 song that topped the charts in both country and pop music. It was written by American country music singers Bill Sherrill, Norris Wilson, and Rory Bourke. In addition, Sherrill produced this three-minute song for Epic Records. This together with “Behind Closed Doors” became Rich’s defining songs in his career.
Furthermore, “The Most Beautiful Girl” stayed at the no. 1 spot in 1973 on three Billboard music charts namely, Hot Country Singles for three weeks, Hot 100 for two weeks, and Easy Listening for three weeks. Aside from the United States, the song also went big in 10 other countries. In Canada, it was also placed no. 1 on three RPM music charts: Country Tracks, Top Singles, and Adult Contemporary. In 1974, the song was ranked by Billboard as no. 23.
LISTEN to Charlie Rich’s 1973 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl.”
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