Charlie Rich, aka the Silver Fox, won two Grammy awards for his 1973 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl,” and a string of chart-topping hits followed. Charlie Rich’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Charlie Rich, aka the Silver Fox, won two Grammy awards for his 1973 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl,” and a string of chart-topping hits followed. It was a long road to success for Rich, who started out as a Sun Records session musician in the 1960s for the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and other country-infused rockers. Rich’s music defied and joined genres, incorporating blues, gospel, soul, jazz, country, rock, and pop, making him initially difficult to market. After finding solid success in the 1970s, Rich struggled with alcohol abuse, leading to problems in his personal and professional life that caused his career to stall out in the latter half of the decade. We remember Rich’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2017: Michael Johnson, Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter and guitarist known best for his first Top 40 hit song “Bluer Than Blue” in 1978, dies at 72.
2015: Bob Kauffman, U.S. NBA center who was a three-time All-Star with the Buffalo Braves, dies at 69.
2014: Bel Kaufman, German-American author known best for “Up the Down Staircase,” dies at 103.
“Up the Down Staircase,” a scrapbook of letters, notes, and memos, follows a few months in the life of the idealistic young Sylvia Barrett, the new teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School. She is a kind soul staggering under a blizzard of administrative nonsense and student impudence. When she’s not being reprimanded for her students’ failure to memorize the school’s alma mater song, she faces a crowded but endearing class of misfits and other characters, from rebel Joe Ferone to the brown-nosing Harry A. Kagan. Read more
2013: Barnaby Jack, New Zealand hacker and computer security expert who was able to hack into ATMs and dispense money as well as remotely control pacemakers and insulin pumps, dies at 35.
2009: Alexis Cohen, U.S. singer who was a popular contestant during a season of “American Idol,” dies in a hit-and-run car accident at 25.
2003: John Schlesinger, Academy Award-winning English director whose films included “Midnight Cowboy,” “Marathon Man,” and “The Falcon and the Snowman,” dies at 77.
2003: Erik Brann, U.S. guitarist who was a member of the band Iron Butterfly and played guitar on their hit song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” dies of a heart attack at 52.
1998: Tal Farlow, U.S. jazz guitarist who was considered one of the all-time great guitar players and performed with Red Norvo and Artie Shaw, dies of esophageal cancer at 77.
1997: Ben Hogan, U.S. professional golfer who was considered one of the greatest players in history and won 64 PGA events and nine major championships, dies at 84.
1995: Charlie Rich, Grammy Award-winning U.S. country music singer and musician whose hit songs included “Behind Closed Doors” and “The Most Beautiful Girl” in 1973, dies at 62.
It may be that Rich’s most famous – or infamous – moment came in 1975, at the Country Music Association Awards. Rich was, at the time, a massive country music star coming off a very successful year during which he’d had five songs top the country charts and cross over to the pop charts – and won the CMA’s entertainer of the year award. His celebrity stature naturally made him the choice to present that same award to a new winner, John Denver. But instead of reading Denver’s name, Rich set fire to the envelope that contained it. Read more
1993: Nan Grey, U.S. actress who worked mostly in the 1930s and later married singer Frankie Laine, dies of heart failure at 75.
1992: Alfred Drake, U.S. actor who created the male leads in the plays “Oklahoma!” and “Kiss Me, Kate” and appeared in the movie “Trading Places,” dies of heart failure at 77.
1989: Steve Rubell, U.S. entrepreneur who was the co-owner of the nightclub Studio 54 in Manhattan, dies of complications of hepatitis and septic shock at 45.
1986: Vincente Minnelli, U.S. director whose movies included “Gigi,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and “An American in Paris,” who was married for a time to Judy Garland and was the father of Liza Minnelli, dies at 83.
1984: Big Mama Thornton, U.S. singer-songwriter who had a hit in 1953 with the Leiber and Stoller song “Hound Dog,” which sold almost 2 million copies and later became an even bigger hit for Elvis Presley, dies at 57.
“Hound Dog” writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller – who would go on to write a slew of hits for acts as diverse as the Drifters, Elvis Presley, the Clovers, Peggy Lee, and Stealers Wheel – were then just beginning their careers. In an interview with music critic Ralph Gleason, Thornton recalls, “They were just a couple of kids and they had the song written on the back of a paper bag.” She added a few lyrics and toyed with the rhythm. The song would go on to top the rhythm and blues charts for nine weeks after its release. Read more
1982: Hal Foster, Canadian illustrator and writer known best for creating the comic strip “Prince Valiant,” dies at 89.
1958: Harry Warner, Polish-born U.S. studio executive who founded Warner Bros. pictures along with his three brothers, dies at 76.