In 1958, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips suggested that Charlie Rich was the only artist he ever signed who could potentially rival Elvis Presley. RCA’s Chet Atkins also had high praise for Rich, calling him “one of the finest talents I’ve ever encountered.” Occasionally through the years, Charlie seemed on the verge of approaching his potential, but it wasn’t until “Behind Closed Doors” came along in 1973 that the dam burst and the accolades came flooding in.
Signed by Epic Records five years earlier, Rich languished over the correct approach in which to market his music. Influenced by a variety of musical styles, his sound was simply too wide-ranging for most radio programmers to feature. Charlie’s producer at Epic, Billy Sherrill, said the biggest complaint he heard about Rich from deejays was that he was too bluesy for country while others said he was too country for anything else. But like the other record executives, Sherrill firmly believed in Charlie’s ability and he knew that all they needed was the right song for Rich’s career to take off. Billy explained, “nobody really knows what the right song is until it comes along. It’s like a pretty woman. No one can say what it takes to make her pretty, but when you see her, you’ll know.”