Charlie Rich (Charles Allan Rich)

Charlie Rich

Charlie Rich

Musician Charlie Rich had several No. 1 country songs in the 1970s, including “Behind Closed Doors” and “The Most Beautiful Girl.”

Commercial success came at a considerable personal price for Charlie Rich. His drinking and resulting bad behavior had spiraled out of control. His behavior came to a head in a shocking on-stage meltdown at the 1975 Country Music Awards, where instead of presenting the Entertainer of the Year award to its winner – John Denver – he lit the card announcing Denver’s win on fire in front of an outraged audience. Rich’s personal crisis, combined with waning interest in his country-balladeer sound, soon left him without a record label or much of a fan base.

In the late 1970s, a humbled Rich wrote soundtracks for several Benji movies and the 1978 Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way but Loose. By 1981, Rich had all but retired, retreating from the spotlight to restore his health and personal life. “I just settled back in and figured out what to do,” he later told a reporter. “A couple things I kind of wanted to do, like raising my family, I’d been putting off. I just decided that it might be the best thing to do.”

In 1992, Rich released a comeback album called Pictures and Paintings. The well-received record would be his last. On July 25, 1995, Rich died suddenly of a blood clot in his lungs. He was staying at a Louisiana motel with his wife while en route to a gig. Music-industry colleagues eulogized the passing of a man they remembered for his big heart and big sound. “Charlie Rich had the intuitive instinct to feel, see and hear pain, disappointment, happiness and joy and somehow transmute it into music,” said Sam Phillips, the legendary founder of Sun Records. “I don’t know anyone who has ever written or sung in a way that depicted more of the humanity of man, with greater melodic beauty, than Charlie Rich.”

More Images

  • Rich grave -


  • December, 14, 1932
  • Colt, Arkansas


  • July, 25, 1995
  • Hammond, Louisiana

Cause of Death

  • emphysema


  • Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Memphis, Tennessee

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