In 1981, Charley Pride and his producer Jerry Bradley made a mutual decision to end their day-to-day working relationship. At the time, both men felt they had gone about as far as they could as an artist/producer team. Their last two singles had landed in the Top Ten, but stopped far short of number one (the usual placements of Charley Pride records), so Charley and Jerry believed it was time for a change.
Bradley wasn’t just Charley’s producer. At the time, Jerry was the head man at RCA and he recommended that Norro Wilson take over in the studio. Wilson produced three tracks specifically for Pride’s “Greatest Hits” album and played them for Bradley, who still ran the RCA operation. Bradley felt they were good enough to release, but he told Wilson he thought they could do better.
Norro was a bit put out by Jerry’s assessment, so he decided to go for broke and recruit who he considered one of the best songwriters in town, Wayland Holyfield, to work with him to create some top songs that would give Pride’s career a much-needed shot in the arm. They were seeking something a bit more energetic and unusual.
Holyfield was driving one afternoon and came up with a title he thought they could work with: “Never Been So Loved (In All Of My Life).” The Sony handheld recorders had just come out, but Wayland didn’t have one at the time. He wanted to get that line written down, so he reached for a pen and a notepad out of his bag while driving and almost wrecked his car!
Fortunately, he made it to the office and he and Wilson sat down and wrote the song. Norro hired top arranger D. Bergen White to create the string parts, which Wilson believed was a major reason the record turned out so strong.
The bulk of the single was captured in a live session, rather than a series of overdubs. Charley was there, along with all the musicians and background people, working together live in the studio, making the record the way it used to be done in the old days. The only overdubs occurred when Pride came back in and touched up a couple of vocal lines.
“Never Been So Loved (In All Of My Life)” sailed to the top of Billboard’s country singles chart on October 24, 1981 and put Charley Pride back in command, marking his 25th number one hit. With its success, Charley became only the fourth artist in history to log 25 chart-toppers by that time (behind only Eddy Arnold, Merle Haggard & Conway Twitty). He went on to have four more. In later years, Pride’s career total of 29 number ones was surpassed by Alabama’s 32, Ronnie Milsap’s 35, Haggard’s 38, Twitty’s 40 and George Strait’s 44 – the official, authentic and accurate Billboard count.