October 30

Story of the Song “Rollin’ With The Flow” by Charlie Rich

Story of the Song “Rollin’ With The Flow” by Charlie Rich 1

This hit by Charlie Rich was written by Jerry Hayes. The story starts after “I Love My Friend” reached No.1 in October of 1974. It took nearly three years for Charlie Rich to return to the top of Billboard’s country singles chart with new material. Even though, he still managed to score some successful chart placements during the balance of the ‘70s, including a great cover of the ’67 David Houston/Tammy Wynette duet “My Elusive Dreams,” “Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High),” “All Over Me,” and his version of Lenny Welch’s old ’63 pop hit, “Since I Fell For You.”

Rich’s return to number one came when producer Billy Sherrill uncovered “Rollin’ With The Flow,” which originally had appeared on the “B” side of T. G. Sheppard’s first No. 1 hit “Devil In The Bottle,” released in late ’74. Sherrill earmarked “Rollin’ With The Flow” immediately for Charlie, but he had a major problem with one word in Sheppard’s version. Billy thought it was a keyword, even believing that if it wasn’t substituted, the song could be adversely affected as a potential hit-maker. Sherrill’s instincts were usually spot-on, so he changed the word. As originally written, a line says, “I’ve got a lot of crazy friends, and One forgives me of my sins,” meaning Jesus, Billy thought. Wanting to stay away from the religious connotations and go for a big secular record, Billy changed it to “they forgive me of my sins.” Although not bothered by the original line, Charlie said, “I like that better.”

The following year, Rich signed with United Artists Records for a reported $750,000. Larry Butler produced an immediate Top Ten on Charlie with “Puttin’ In Overtime At Home,” and three more remaining singles on Epic were released: “Beautiful Woman,” the self-penned “On My Knees,” a duet with Janie Fricke (Rich’s final No. 1 record), and his update of Al Martino’s old ’66 pop hit “Spanish Eyes.”

On July 24, 1995, Charlie Rich was traveling to Florida by car with his wife when he experienced a bout of severe coughing. After visiting a doctor in St. Francisville, Louisiana and receiving antibiotics, he continued traveling until stopping to rest for the night. Later that night he died in his sleep in a Hammond, Louisiana motel at the age of only 62. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. Rich is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.


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