CHARLIE RICH-TOO MANY TEARDROPS: THE COMPLETE GROOVE AND RCA RECORDINGS.
Charlie Rich-Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings.
Label: Ace Records.
By 1963, thirty-one year old singer, songwriter and pianist Charlie Rich found himself looking back at his career as he was about to sign for Groove, a subsidiary of RCA. Charlie Rich’s career began five years earlier when the former college football star from Colt, Arkansas, signed to Sun Records, where he was a contemporary of Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. However, Charlie Rich’s career at Sun was nearly over before it began after Sam Phillips heard a demonstration record he had recorded. Upon hearing the songs, Sam Phillips told Charlie Rich who was already a versatile musician, that his songs weren’t commercial enough and “too jazzy all thirteenths.” Sam Phillips handed Charlie Rich a pile of Jerry Lee Lewis singles and told him: “come back when you get that bad.”
When Charlie Rich returned to Sun Records and signed his first ever recording contract, it looked ominous when his first two singles flopped. However, Charlie Rich’s luck changed when he released his third single Lonely Weekend in January 1960. Although it reached just twenty-two in the US Billboard 100, Lonely Weekend sold over a million copies. Charlie Rich had struck gold after just three singles. It was the proudest moment of his career when he was presented with the first gold disc of his career. In the space of just two years, Charlie Rich had gone from being dismissed as “too jazzy” to being Phillips International’s latest million selling singer.
Buoyed by the success of Lonely Weekends Charlie Rich released his fourth single School Days four months later in May 1960, which failed commercially. It was thought that this was just a blip, and that Charlie Rich’s next single would chart. However, lightning struck twice when On My Knees was released in September 1960 and failed to find an audience. After this, Charlie Rich released another five singles between December 1960 and 1962 which all failed to chart. This resulted in Charlie Rich, who was out of luck, leaving Sun in 1963 for pastures new.
In 1963, thirty-one Charlie Rich signed to Groove, a subsidiary of RCA where producer Chet Atkins was the A&R man. He had been an admirer of Charlie Rich’s music, and the Silver Fox hoped that he would help him get his career back on track. They would spend the next two years recording and releasing seven singles and two albums 1964s Charlie Rich and 1965s That’s Rich for Groove and RCA Victor. This chapter in Charlie Rich’s career is celebrated on Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings which was recently released by Ace Records.
For Charlie Rich, signing to Groove was a fresh start, where he hoped that he could get his career back on track. By then, many within the music industry were well aware that Charlie Rich was a talented and versatile musician, but were unsure about how to market him. Was Charlie Rich a country, R&B or jazz singer? That was what Chet Atkins had to work out.
Having secured the signature of Charlie Rich, Chet Atkins was keen to get his latest signing into the studio as soon as possible. By then, Chet Atkins had been thinking about how he could transform Charlie Rich’s career? Part of the problem was Charlie Rich’s versatility. If Chet Atkins had asked him to record a country, R&B or jazz single for his debut for Groove Charlie Rich would have been able to do so. While this was a gift, it was something that would hold Charlie Rich back as producers wondered what kind of singer the Silver Fox was?
While Chet Atkins was wondering what direction Charlie Rich’s should take, he was ready to take his latest signing into the studio to record his debut single for Groove. The song that had been chosen was Benny Joy’s She Loved Everybody But Me. On The B-Side was The Grass Is Always Green which Charlie Rich had written with his wife Margaret Rich. By then, the couple had forged a successful songwriting partnership which would furnish Charlie Rich with a steady string of songs throughout his career.
Having recorded She Loved Everybody But Me, Charlie Rich’s debut single for Groove was released in August 1963. Groove had high hopes for the single, which was a spirited but rueful reading of She Loved Everybody But Me. However, when the single was released it failed to trouble the charts. For Charlie Rich history repeated itself again.
For the followup to She Loved Everybody But Me, a cover of Jimmy Reed’s Big Boss Man was chosen, with the Charlie Rich composition Let Me Go My Merry Way on the B-Side. It’s a jazz-tinged track with a R&B stylings, and sometimes, is reminiscent of Ray Charles. However, this hidden gem was just was playing a supporting on Charlie Rich’s second single for Groove.
While many artists have covered Big Boss Man, Charlie Rich’s cover was a cut above the majority of them, especially as he delivers the pay-off line “you ain’t so big, you’re just tall.” Despite what’s still one of the best renditions of this oft-covered Big Boss Man, the single reached 107, and just failed to enter the US Billboard 100. While this was disappointing, the sales had been encouraging, and Groove decided to send Charlie Rich into the studio to record an album.
By the time Charlie Rich began to record his debut album for Groove, producer Chet Atkins was gently steering his latest signing in the direction of country music. However, Charlie Rich would still record the occasional R&B and jazz numbers over the new two years.
For his sophomore album Charlie Rich, the Silver Fox entered the studio with Chet Atkins where he recorded eight new songs. They were a mixture of cover versions, Charlie Rich compositions and songs that he had written with various songwriting partners, including Margaret Rich. During the recording session, Charlie Rich recorded River, Stay ‘Way from My Door, Big Jack, My Mountain Dew, Ol’ Man River, The Ways Of A Woman In Love, Why, Oh Why, Rosanna and Are You Still My Baby? They were joined by Charlie Rich’s first two singles for Groove and their B-Sides, including She Loved Everybody But Me and The Grass Is Always Greener plus Big Boss Man Let Me Go My Merry Way. These twelve songs became Charlie Rich, which was released later in 1964.
Before that, Charlie Rich released his third single for Groove, Lady Love, which was one of his own compositions. It has a much more dramatic, poppy sound than previous singles. Tucked away on the B-Side was another Charlie Rich song, the beautiful hurt filled ballad Why, Oh Why. It’s another hidden gem, and was too good to be consigned to a B-Side. Sadly, very few people heard either song, when Lady Love failed commercially. Charlie Rich knew the significance of this, as this was his tenth single that had failed to chart since his million seller Lonely Weekends. He was beginning to wonder where his next hit was coming from?
Chet Atkins was wondering this too, and after some thought, decided that now was the time to move Charlie Rich further in the direction of country music. Maybe this would result in a change in fortune for the singer who just four years earlier, was enjoying a million selling single.
In April 1964,the Charlie Rich composition My Mountain Dew was released as a single on Groove. Little did anyone know that this was a landmark single, as Charlie Rich moved further in the direction of country music. Tucked away on the B-Side was The Ways Of A Woman In Love which Charlie Rich and Bill Justis had written. Many DJs and record industry insiders thought that Groove had released the wrong side of the single. The jaunty piano lead The Ways Of A Woman In Love was a much stronger song and found Charlie Rich combining country with elements of R&B on a song where the Sliver Fox almost lived the lyrics. Sadly, it was a case of what might have been as My Mountain Dew failed to find an audience and never came close to troubling the US Billboard 100.
When Charlie Rich returned with his fifth single for Groove, the song that was chosen was a cover of Ray Carter and Paul Tripp’s Nice And Easy. It’s reinvented by Charlie Rich as strings and harmonies accompany him on he delivers a heartfelt version of this oft-covered song. Hidden away on the B-Side was the Margaret Rich composition Turn Around And Face Me. It was tailor-made for Charlie Rich as he delivers an emotive vocal as strings harmonies accompany him. Sadly, very few people heard Nice And Easy never mind Turn Around And Face Me as the single failed to chart.
While Charlie Rich’s singles were failing to chart, they still sold reasonably well. This was enough for Groove to keep faith in Charlie Rich, and later in 1964 the Silver Fox moved onto the main RCA Victor label.
Charlie Rich’s first single for RCA Victor was a cover of Freddie Hart’s Too Many Teardrops, featured the Charlie Rich composition It’s All Over Now on the B-Side. Both songs were given a countrypolitan makeover. The new countrypolitan sound was proving popular amongst record buyers who were won over by arrangements that featured lush strings and harmonies. When Charlie Rich released Too Many Teardrop as his first single for RCA Victor in November 1964, he was hoping that his decision reposition himself as a countrypolitan singer would pay off. Sadly, Too Many Teardrops which was one of the best singles Charlie Rich released on Groove or RCA Victor failed to find the audience it deserved.
Despite this, RCA Victor decided to keep faith with Charlie Rich and he was sent into the studio to record his third album That’s Rich. He recorded I Don’t See Me In Your Eyes Anymore, Now Everybody Knows, Tomorrow Night, Like Someone in Love, No Room to Dance, The Big Build Up, Is Goodbye That Easy to Say, If I Knew Then What I Know Now and It Just Goes to Show (You Never Know About Love). These songs were joined by the single Too Many Teardrops and B-Sides Turn Around And Face Me and It’s All Over Now. These songs became That’s Rich which showcased Charlie Rich’s talent and versatility as he moved towards the new countrypolitan sound.
The new countrypolitan sound featured on Charlie Rich’s next single for RCA Victor, the prophetically titled There Won’t Be Anymore. It was penned by Charlie Rich and produced by Chet Atkins. On the B-Side was Gentleman Jim, which was the poignant homage to Gentleman Jim Reeves who had died in a plane crash on the ‘31st’ of July 1964. When There Won’t Be Anymore was released in March 1965, RCA Victor had high hopes for the singles which critics were calling one of Charlie Rich’s finest singles of recent years. Despite that, the single failed to chart, which was yet another blow to Charlie Rich.
Just over years had passed since Charlie Rich released his million selling single Lonely Weekends. Since then, he had released seven singles for Phillips International, five for Groove and two for RCA Victor. However, none of these fourteen singles had charted. Something had to give, and not long after the release of There Won’t Be Anymore Charlie Rich left RCA Victor and signed to Smash.
Ironically, when Charlie Rich released Mohair Sam as his debut single for Smash in July 1965 it reached twenty-one in the US Billboard 100. This was the highest chart placing of his career.
The following year, 1966, RCA Victor released Big Boss Man! a compilation of Charlie Rich’s songs, which featured an unreleased cover version of The Twelfth of Never. It was the only new song on Big Boss Man! which meant it was must have for Charlie Rich’s growing fan base.
Over the next four years, Charlie Rich’s popularity grew, and by 1970 Charlie Rich had five US Country hits and had just enjoyed a minor hit with July 12, 1939. RCA were keen to cash-in on Charlie Rich’s popularity and released She Loved Everybody But Me on RCA Camden. The new compilation feature two unreleased covers of I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter and a jazzy take on I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Despite the increase in Charlie Rich’s popularity, She Loved Everybody But Me wasn’t the commercial success that RCA had hoped.
In January 1973, Charlie Rich released a cover of Kenny O’Dell’s Behind Closed Doors as a single. The forty-year old watched as the single reached fifteen on the US Billboard 100 and topped the US Country charts. Charlie Rich won Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1974. By then, Charlie Rich was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest selling country singers of the seventies.
Eight months after the release of Behind Closed Doors, the Charlie Rich success story continued in September 1973, when he released his new single. This was The Most Beautiful Girl, which he had written with Billy Sherrill. The pair watched as the song topped the US Billboard and US Country charts. Eighteen years after he first met Sam Phillips, Charlie Rich was fulfilling the potential he had shown first at Sun and then at Groove and RCA Victor.
Executives at RCA Victor watched as the Charlie Rich success story continued apace, and in 1974 decided to release another compilation featuring music the Silver Fox recorded whilst at Groove and RCA Victor. Fortunately, there were still a number of unreleased songs in the vaults including I’m Right Behind You, Share Your Love With Me, Ten Dollars and a Clean White Shirt, Tragedy, I Don’t See Me in Your Eyes Anymore, I Need a Thing Called Love and She Called Me Baby. These songs featured one the compilation She Called Me Baby which was released in 1974. It reached eighty-four in the US Billboard 200 and ten in the US Country charts. Meanwhile, She Called Me Baby reached seventy in the Canadian charts, which added to what was already a profitable venture.
Two years later, in 1976, and RCA Victor released another compilation of Charlie Rich’s music The World Of Charlie Rich/Now Everybody Knows, which featured the words: “collectors! This album contains the original recordings. It also featured a previously unreleased track (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers. For some of Charlie Rich’s fans this was enough to add the album to their collection. This had been the intention of executives at RCA Victor who were enjoying a windfall nine years after Charlie Rich left the label.
After the release of The World Of Charlie Rich/Now Everybody Knows in 1976 many of the Silver Fox’s fans thought that RCA Victor cupboard was bare and there were no more unreleased tracks in the vaults. Forty-one years later, when Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings was being compiled One More Mountain (One More River) was discovered in the vaults. It’s lain unreleased for over fifty years, and makes a welcome debut on Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings which was recently released by Ace Records. This is the only compilation featuring the period Charlie Rich spent at Groove and RCA Victor between 1963 and 1965.
While there’s no hits on Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings, this two disc forty track compilation which features cover versions and songs penned by Charlie Rich feature the Silver Fox’s music as it evolves and latterly, moves towards the countrypolitan sound. Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings is also a reminder that Charlie Rich was a successful songwriter, and a versatile vocalist who could seamlessly switch between country, folk, pop and R&B, and sometimes combines elements of several genres during the same song. However, Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings is also carefully curated and poignant reminder of one of the true superstars of country music Charlie Rich, during what was an important and formative period of what would be a long and illustrious career.
Charlie Rich-Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings.
- Posted in: Country ♦ Jazz ♦ Pop ♦ R&B
- Tagged: Ace Records, Behind Closed Doors, Big Boss Man, Charlie Rich, Chet Atkins, Lady Love, Lonely Weekends, My Mountain Dew, Nice And Easy, She Called Me Baby, She Loved Everybody But M, That’s Rich, The Most Beautiful Girl, The World Of Charlie Rich/Now Everybody Knows, There Won't Be Anymore, Too Many Teardrops, Too Many Teardrops: The Complete Groove and RCA Recordings