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Musician Charlie Rich had several No. 1 country songs in the 1970s, including "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl."
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Charlie Rich was born on December 14, 1932, in Colt, Arkansas. He recorded his own single, "Lonely Weekends," in 1960. His peak came in 1973 with "The Most Beautiful Girl," a single that sold 1 million copies. In the late 1970s, he wrote soundtracks. By 1981 he had all but retired. He released a comeback album, Pictures and Paintings, in 1992. On July 25, 1995, he died suddenly in Hammond, Louisiana.
Musician Charlie Rich was born on December 14, 1932, in Colt, Arkansas, as the son of music-loving rural cotton farmers. Charlie Rich briefly studied music at the University of Arkansas before quitting school to join the United States Air Force. He married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Ann, with whom he raised two sons and two daughters over their 43 years of marriage.
Rich formed his first band while stationed in Oklahoma with the Air Force. The Velvetones were a blues and jazz group featuring Rich's wife, Margaret Ann, as the lead singer. After leaving the Air Force in 1956, Rich moved the family to the musical hotbed of Memphis, where Rich spent the next few years touring local clubs and writing his own songs. While touring, Rich became friends with singer Bill Justis, an artist on the iconic Sun Records label who lent Rich some Jerry Lee Lewis albums. Rich was blown away by the sound. He managed to get himself signed with Sun as a studio musician, where he played piano and sang back-up vocals for artists including Lewis, Justis, Carl Mann and Johnny Cash. "At first I didn't dig country. As a matter of fact, we put it down because we wanted to be jazz pickers," Rich said. "I had to make a drastic change at Sun Records and I didn't really appreciate country music until I went there."
Rich then recorded his own single, "Lonely Weekends," which reached No. 22 on the charts in 1960. He moved to Groove Records in 1964, where he recorded the hit underground single "Big Boss Man." Subsequent albums flopped, and when Groove went out of business in 1965, Rich was left with no contract. He bounced between labels and musical styles, experimenting with everything from boogie-woogie to honky-tonk.
He found his musical comfort zone in 1968 with Epic Records producer Bill Sherrill, who worked with Rich to create the smooth, ballad-friendly sound that would make him famous. Known as the "Silver Fox" for his prematurely gray hair, Rich enjoyed a streak of commercial success in the 1970s. He had nine No. 1 country singles, including "There Won't Be Anymore," "A Very Special Love Song," "I Don't See Me in Your Eyes Anymore" and "Behind Closed Doors," which sold 1 million copies.
Charlie Rich's peak came in 1973 with "The Most Beautiful Girl," a single that sold 1 million copies and spent weeks atop both the pop and country charts. Rich picked up three Country Music Association Awards for the song and its accompanying LP, along with one Grammy, and four ACM trophies.
Commercial success came at a considerable personal price for Charlie Rich.
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