Last month I featured Hall of Fame songwriter Rory Bourke. This month, I want to talk about Rory's most important collaborator over the years, Charlie Black. Charlie and Rory have penned a large number of big hits together and each man praises the other equally.
Here's "Modest But Mighty Charlie Black."
For Charlie Black, it started in high school with rock bands in Cheverly, Maryland, where he grew up. From there, it was more bands in college at the University of Maryland, where Charlie had three different majors in three years and credits that as the reason he didn't stay and obtain a degree. The first was Music Education, then Music Performance, and finally Music Composition. He seems to have fared well from these three areas of interest, having later written eleven number one country hits! As well as being inducted into the NSAI's (Nashville Songwriters Association, International) Hall of Fame in 1991 (My June column mistakenly said 1989).
After leaving university and moving to Nashville in 1970, Charlie was signed to Terrace Music as a staff writer. His first hit came with "I Don't Know You Anymore,": by Tommy Overstreet. It was also his first #1. After seven years and more cuts by such artists as Bobby Bare, Paul Anka, and Don Williams, Charlie signed with Chappel Music and remained there until 1989. It was in '77 that he also met Rory Bourke and a great writing team was born.
Charlie and Rory wrote "Shadows in the Moonlight" as their first effort, which Anne Murray took to #1. Then came the classic "A Little Good News," written with a third writer, Tommy Rocco, followed by "Blessed Are the Believers," also with a third writer, Sandy Pinkard of the comedy country duo Pinkard & Bowden. Anne Murray should be very glad Charlie and Rory met.
The K. T. Oslin smash, "Come Next Monday," was written by K. T. and Rory before K. T. was discovered by Harold Shedd, the only producer or record executive in Nashville smart enough to take a chance on a giant talent, regardless of age or gender.
In addition to his great success with partner Bourke, Charlie's songs have become number one hits for Gary Morris ("100% Chance of Rain"), Reba McEntire ("You Lie"), T. G. Shepard ("Slow Burn," "Strong Heart"), the Bellamy Brothers ("Do You Love As Good As You Look?"), Earl Thomas Conley ("Honor Bound"), was well as the previously mentioned Tommy Overstreet.
One song I can't help but be envious of is "Love Is a Cold Wind," recorded by two of my all-time heroes, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich. Other artists not already mentioned who've recorded Black's wonderful melodies and intelligent lyrics include Dan Seals, Eddy Raven, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, The McCarter Sisters, Cee Cee Chapman, Michele Wright, Lorrie Morgan and most, most recently, Blackhawk, with "Goodbye Says It All," written with Bobby Fischer and Johnny MacRae.
Since 1989, Charlie has been writing for his own company, Five-Bar-B Songs. Rumor has it that he's talking to one of the biggies about a new partnership.
Charlie has been elected ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year twice and SESAC's Songwriter of the Year once as well as sharing Grammy nominations with his co-writers for "A Little Good News" and "Come Next Monday." He also wrote songs for the Academy Award-winning Short Subject film Violet.
Though a larger man than his friend Rory Bourke, Charlie Black, who also likes a cigar or pipe occasionally, is a quiet man with a happy family lief that has included coaching ball teams and fostering future musicians. He has a wry sense of humor and is always open for a discussion on just about anything.
I'm proud to know him and to have written a great song with him called "Come First Light," which I believe has a big place in Charlie's future as well as mine.
See you next month.
Currently touring to support his latest CD, From a Real Good Home, Alan Rhody is a Louisville native based out of Nashville, TN. He will appear at the East End Coffee House on August 10. For information on dates and product, write: P. O. Box 121231, Nashville, TN 37212.