The Story Behind Charley Pride’s “I’d Rather Love You”

That particular night, the show had been scheduled a bit earlier than normal. Duncan had finished his set and, with nothing else to do, went back to the hotel. There wasn’t anyone around and in that solitude, he composed “I’d Rather Love You” in just 20 minutes.

Duncan himself recorded the song first, with Bob Montgomery producing. When Columbia decided on another tune to be Johnny’s next single, Pride stepped in and asked Duncan if he could record “I’d Rather Love You.” Charley was especially enamored with the song, so Johnny said, “Sure, you can have it.”

That was a smart move, because Pride’s record sailed to #1 in a scant four weeks and locked in there for a three week ride at the summit of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart beginning March 6, 1971, marking Duncan’s first chart-topping hit as a writer and Charley’s 6th of 29 number one singles. It was also the beginning of better times, financially, for Duncan as the royalties from “I’d Rather Love You” provided the funds needed to purchase a new house for his wife and kids.

The following year saw another of Johnny’s tunes, “She’s Too Good To Be True,” also reach number one for Pride. Charley rounded out his trilogy of Johnny Duncan-written singles with “I Ain’t All Bad,” which went to #6 in 1975.

As for Duncan’s own recording career, success did finally come his way with a series of Top Ten hits (including three number one singles) throughout the balance of the ‘70s, starting with the #6 “Sweet Country Woman” in the spring of 1973. 

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