Many people mainly remember Charlie Rich for his 1970s hits “Behind Closed Doors” and “The Most Beautiful Girl” off of his album Behind Closed Doors (1973). And if you look on YouTube, most of the live performance videos of this great artist are of those two songs. But most of Rich’s best work took place both before and after that album, and Rich remains one of my favorite singers because of that other work. Rich consistently did outstanding work, even if fans did not always buy his songs the way they did for his hits.
Having played piano and sang for Sun Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and following a brief stint at Groove, Charlie Rich — who was born on December 14, 1932 -– signed with Smash Records in 1965. His first single for Smash Records was a novelty song “Mohair Sam,” written by Dallas Frazier.
The song became a hit, ending up in the top 30 on the pop charts. Below, Rich performs “Mohair Sam” on the October 7, 1965 episode of ABC-TV’s show Shindig! Check it out.
Even at the time, “Mohair Sam” sounded like a song from an earlier era. Songs on the radio in 1965 included Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Otis Redding’s “Respect,” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”
Rich would continue to have ups and downs in his careers. As he did many times during his career, despite continuing to make quality music, Charlie Rich would have to reinvent himself before finding success again in the early 1970s. Then, after a period of semi-retirement through the 1980s, he released a wonderful jazzy album Pictures and Paintings in 1992 before passing away on July 25, 1995.
What is your favorite Charlie Rich song? Leave your two cents in the comments.
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