1974 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 300004 mono
CHARLY RICH – LONELY WEEKENDS
Album compiled by Georges Collange. Cover concept, artwork by Phillippe Morillon. Manufactured and distribution President Records. Printed by Garrod and Lofthouse. Licensed from Sun Record Company.
Allroundsinger-songwriter-pianist Charlie Rich, who is nicknamed the "Silver Fox" was born on December 14, 1932 in Forrest City, Arkansas. There probably weren't many affluent people living
in Forrest City during the Great Depression, so the Riches' economic circumstances were hardly exceptional.
By the 1940s, the family finances had stabilized and they
settled in Colt, Arkansas. Rich early interest in music was nurtured by contact with C.J. Allen, a black tenant farmer on the Rich family's land. Unlike many bluesmen in the area, Allen made his music on piano, rather than a guitar. The Rich family was very
religious, and singing the Lord's praises was an important part of their lives.
Charlie's widow Margaret Ann recalled, ''Charlie played some guitar when he was younger.
It was actually his first instrument.
He used to listen to his mother and father sing. They did music in their church, harmonizing with two other people, backed by a
guitar. That music had a deep emotional effect on Charlie. He used to listed to it and then go into his room and cry. He and his sister did some singing with the guitar when Charlie was in high school as well''.
While the guitar may have been his first instrument, playing it was not a fully satisfying experience for Charlie Rich. That may have had to do with his lack of technical competence or, more likely, with his associating the
guitar with the strong religious values of his family. Charlie searched beyond the guitar for musical expression. The piano was an obvious choice. The trouble was that Charlie Rich took the piano in directions that were unacceptable in the strict Missionary
Baptist Rich household. Charlie soon experienced similar problems to those that faced fellow Sun alumnus Jerry Lee Lewis.
''I was an embarrassment to my mom and dad'',
Charlie recalled to journalist Alan Cackett. ''I had been brought up to believe that dancing, rhythm and blues and drinking were sinful. They had high hopes for me and were not happy with the direction I was taking''.
The piano wasn't the only path away from the musical fold. When he was 17 years-old in high school, Charlie Rich began to play saxophone and was sufficiently competent to perform with the band. It is little known
that while he was still in high school, Charlie spent a summer in Texas. During this time, he had his own radio show, a 15 minute broadcast during which he sang and played the piano.
Rich went off to Arkansas State College with help from two unlikely sources: a football scholarship and a financial gift from a proverbial rich uncle. Charlie transferred to the University of Arkansas as a music major. Charlie quit school and joined the Air
Force. In may, 1952 he married Margaret Ann Greene and they honeymooned in Memphis at the ritzy Peabody Hotel, courtesy of Uncle Jack. While they were in Memphis, they blew the $45 they had between them on records. Music was simply that important to both of
them. As Margaret Ann would later recall, ''The first piece of furniture in our house was a tape recorder''.
The Air Force life took them to Enid, Oklahoma, where Charlie
combined military duties, such as they were, with musical gigs. Charlie played piano and some sax with the Velvetones. The group featured solo vocals by Charlie as well as some hip duets by Charlie and Margaret Ann. When Charlie returned to Arkansas in 1955,
he and Margaret Ann purchased a 500 acre farm near Forrest City. Although they had lived reasonably well on his Air Force salary and music income, the purchase price was largely subsidized by Uncle Jack. Even though a bumper cotton and soybean crop during
the first year allowed Charlie to pay back much pf the loan from his uncle, it was clear he was not cut out to be a farmer. It is no accident that most farmers are asleep by 10 and up with the dawn. In that time, Charlie was barely getting into the Memphis'
jazz clubs by ten and sometimes got home just in time to see the sun rise. He plainly was not going to be a poster boy for the Farmer's Hall of Fame''.
By 1957 Charlie
Rich and Margaret Ann were living in West Memphis, Arkansas with their three children. Charlie was farming by day and hating every minute of it. Several nights a week he'd drive into Memphis and play a gig at a jazz lounge like the Vapors. It was not just
the money they needed; those gigs were mental health for Charlie. Margaret Ann realized something had to change.
''I knew that Elvis had gone to Sam Phillips so I thought
maybe Charlie could try his luck there also. I left our three children at home with a baby sitter, crossed the river, and went to Sun. I brought a tape of Charlie that we had made at home. I can't remember which tunes were on it, or whether they were even
originals. Charlie wasn't doing much writing back then. That came later'', Margaret Ann said.
It was Bill Justis who launched Charlie Rich to Sun Records. They he met
him at gigs as well as parties sponsored by the musicians union. Charlie for what he could to at this point, playing and writing to their artist roster, included for Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Smith.
According to Margaret Ann, ''Bill was very very hip. Truthfully, he was way too hip for Sun. I remember him saying right at the start, 'What do you need me for? You're Rich already'. Justis listened to the demos. He finally
gave me some Jerry Lee Lewis records and sent me home with the message that Charlie should come in when he could play that bad''.
''Bill and Charlie got to know each
other better after that. They did some gigs together around town. Bill really encouraged Charlie to start writing. Told him that's where the money was. When Sam finally met Charlie, he told him the same thing. Charlie was so sophisticated in his playing but
Sam told him he needed material for his artists''.
In recalling Charlie's initiation to Sun years later, Sam Phillips was struck by the similarity between Rich and Elvis
- not in their music or physical appearance, but in the fact that neither would come right in and ask to be recorded. In both cases, the path was indirect and somewhat tortuous.
Ann said, ''They didn't know what to do with Charlie. They knew they had a very talented musician on their hands, but they had no idea how to use talent''. Setting a pattern that would haunt him for much of his recording career, Charlie followed directions.
He went home to '''get bad''.
His first efforts were even worse than Bill Justis had envisioned. Songs like "Little By Little", "Rock And Roll Party", and "Donna Lee"
are survey reminders of Charlie's first flirtation with rock and roll. It wasn't a pretty sight. It wasn't simply the age barrier: artists like Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry were turning out credible tunes about teenage angst and hi jinx. Charlie's efforts
sounded like an aging uncle desperately trying to sound hip. Both Bill Justis and Sam Phillips shook their heads. Charlie's earliest attempts were really awful.
continued to work at it. He also took some halting stabs at writing country music, a genre several eons removed from his beloved Stan Kenton. Again, the early efforts, many of which are preserved on self conscious and mannered demos, fell short of the mark.
But Charlie got better. In fact, he got a lot better. Within several months, Charlie's name began appearing as the composer credit on Sun records. In April 1958, Charlie Rich wrote both sides of Ray Smith's release, "Right Behind You Baby''/ "So Young". A
month later his song "Ways Of A Woman In Love" (co-written with Bill Justis) appeared as one side of Johnny Cash's latest record. Three months later, Rich was responsible for both sides of Jerry Lee's latest outing, ''''Break-Up''/''I'll make It All Up To
You''. two months later, he had one side of ray Smith's next single, ''Why Why Why''. Then it was ''I Just Thought You'd Like To Know'' for Johnny Cash a month later. Charlie Rich had finally arrived at Sun Records. His distinctive piano licks were starting
to show up on quite a few Sun sessions in early 1958.
Finally, in August 1958, having squandered every excuse he could muster, Charlie Rich entered the Sun studio to
record his own debut single for Sun sub-label, Phillips International, "Philadelphia Baby" as an investment in stardom. Member as pianist of the Sun house band as a big happy family has much truth to it. But there was also a glimmer of trouble in paradise.
In February, 1959 Charlie Rich set his mind to recording a second single. Although Charlie's recording career was originally driven by a desire to place his own material, one side of the
record somewhat surprisingly featured a non-Rich original. Incredibly, Charlie was unable to capture commercial success again during his tenure at Sun. Charlie continued to record some powerful and memorable sides for Sun, but none of them dented the pop marketplace.
part of the problem was undoubtedly the fact that Charlie had never written teen-oriented material. He was, in every sense, an adult artist. His concerns and priorities just did not resonate with adolescents. "Lonely Weekends", had been a fear occurrence -
one of those rare instances where kids and adults shared a problem: being alone on a weekend. But from then on, Charlie spoke to people with mortgages, drinking problems and ex-lovers.
In the early 1960s, Charlie Rich left Sun on March 15, 1963 and began his RCA tenure by recording a critically acclaimed album, Rich continued to record RCA in Nashville. Although the RCA recordings were smooth by any reckoning, there are
several unmistakable gems.
In 1965, Charlie left RCA and signed w ith Mercury, where he was produced by Jerry Kennedy for their Smash affiliate. In the fall of 1966,
Charlie Rich returned to Memphis having again tasted the fleeting kiss of fame and fortune. Directionless, and with dwindling revenues from records sales, Charlie signed with the Hi label.
After three years (and two different record deals), he was back recording in Memphis. The Hi sessions represent one of the more curious periods in Charlie's recording career. At the same time, with almost schizoid abandon, Charlie recorded
a series of powerful blues and soul tunes for Hi Records, some of which have, only recently, found their way into release.
In December 1976, Charlie signed with Epic
Records for what would turn out to be the longest recording affiliation in his professional life. Charlie's fortunes began to rise by 1973, the quality of his bookings improved as well. In some cases, there was no change in Charlie's onstage manner. Charlie
re-signed to Epic Records in 1973 for the next five years, and within a year scored the crossover country hit "Behind Closed Doors" hit, that would stand as the landmark in his career. "Behind Closed Doors" won a Grammy and Charlie was voted Entertainer Of
The Year by the Country Music Association in 1974.
Charlie Rich and Epic Records ended their ten year relationship in 1977, at which point he began a brief affiliation
with United Artists Records and producer Larry Butler. This period, along with his brief appearance on Elektra in 1980 and 1981, marks the artistic lowpoint of Rich's recording career. Some time during 1979, Rich, along with George Jones, Willie Nelson, Conway
Twitty, and a host of country superstars, joined Ernest Tubb for a series of duets that were released on the Cachet label.
Beginning in 1981, Charlie Rich remained essentially
detached from the music business for a decade. His earnings, and a series of shrewd investments allowed him that luxury. Charlie was an original invester in the Wendy's hamburger chain, reportedly selling his shares in 1979 for cash installments totalling
Even though, Charlie was not involved in the music business throughout most of the 1980s, and Rich was never far from music. During this period Rich paid
a group of local musicians to spend time with him jamming in his home studio. These regular Tuesday night sessions were a source of musical sustenance for the players, although it wasn't until 1992 that the music from these informal jams finally coalesced
into Rich's final CD. The critically acclaimed CD "Pictures And Paintings" appeared on the Sire label in 1992.
Charlie Rich saw Elvis Presley alive in the elevator of
the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium before a football game in 1976. Charlie Rich composed "I'm Comin' Home", which Elvis Presley recorded in 1961. Charlie Rich died on July 25, 1995. The official cause of death was a pulmonary embolism - a blood clot in the
long. Charlie and Margaret Ann had just driven to see their son Allan perform in a casino in Mississippi.
The unavoidable truth is that if Charlie Rich had won the Arkansas
State Lottery, he would probably never have written or recorded most of the music in his Sun recordings. That piano at 706 Union was always miked, and that mike was attached to a tape recorder that seemingly had no OFF button.
Five years earlier, Sam Phillips was so strapped for funds he had found it necessary to recycle tape. Elvis Presley's sessions were recorded on top of blues tracks by Doctor Isiah Ross. God only knows who or
what was recorded on top of priceless Elvis outtakes. By the time Charlie hit the scene, the gods of pop music had smiled on Sun Records and tape was in good supply. Thankfully, Charlie Rich filled a lot of it.
Charlie Rich began recording career at the legendary Sun label in Memphis, recording for Sam Phillips. Without question, Rich's earliest work is his most interesting. It is also the rawest, least disciplined and most revealing.
Rich was never more prolific as a songwriter than during his formative years at Sun. There is nothing in his later career - that spanned more than three decades - that wasn't foreshadowed in some manner at Sun.
During his Sun days (roughly 1958-1962), Charlie took his first halting (and awkward) steps toward rock and roll. He got better at it very quickly and his wonderfully expressive Presleyish voice often carried the day on material
like ''Big Man'' and ''Lonely Weekends''. He also made his first claims on the title of ''White Soul Singer Extraordinary''. You can hear it on the undubbed versions of ''It's Too Late'' or ''Apple Blossom Time'' or ''Time And Again'' is you choose to sample
Charlie's music more deeply (e.g. BCD 16152). During this period, Charlie was also pressed into service as a country music writer, often appearing as composer of Johnny Cash titles as that singer wound down his affiliation with Sun in 1958. Cash was saving
all his new material for a fresh start at Columbia Records and was only too glad to meet his contractual obligations at Sun by recording Charlie Rich sons. Charlie willingly provided them, stretching himself in the process.
Side 1 Contains
The Ballad Of Billy Joe
Rock And Roll Party
Right Behind You
Original Sun Recordings
Side 2 Contains
It's Too Late
Are Gonna Be Waiting
Who Will The Next Fool Be
I Need Your Love
Sittin' And Thinkin'
Original Sun Recordings
For Biographies of Artists See: > The Sun Biographies <
Charlie Rich's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist
from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <
- 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©