Hear a sample of
"Pictures and Paintings"
-courtesy of Sire Records Co.



"Charlie" is a first name synonymous with jazz. Charlie Parker. Charlie Christian. Charlie Rouse. Charles Mingus.

Add Charlie Rich to the list.

That’s because, ultimately, Charlie Rich is a jazz cat.

During his days at Consolidated High School in Forrest City, Arkansas, Charlie was such a great fan of Stan Kenton’s big band music he was often called "Charlie Kenton" by his closest friends. His love of big band jazz arrangements, which grew and sustained him throughout his storied career, had blossomed while Charlie played saxophone—yes, saxophone!—in the high school band.

Another relationship that bloomed around this time was with his life-long love, fellow jazz enthusiast Margaret Ann. She had accompanied her father onto Rich property in search of a perfectly illegal Christmas tree when up rode Charlie, with a guitar slung across his back, and his father. As reported by Margaret Ann, "We should not have been on their property, especially cutting down a tree, but Mr. Rich was so congenial that it was OK. And Charlie, he was like my knight in shining armor."

After high school, Charlie attended Arkansas State College on a football scholarship. Music quickly became the emphasis after an injury put an end to his gridiron days. He then transferred to the University of Arkansas as a music major but left after one brief semester to join the Air Force.

Charlie was based in Enid, Oklahoma. With his wife in tow (Charlie and Margaret Ann had married in 1952 and blown their honeymoon spending money on jazz records during their stay at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis), Charlie supplemented his military responsibilities with piano and saxophone duties in a jazzy little group called the Velvetones. They played the songs of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, and other contemporaries.

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