Charlie Rich had been recording all kinds of music for all kinds of labels throughout the late '50s and '60s, but he never became a sensation. He had a couple of hits -- "Lonely Weekends" went into the Top 30 in 1960, as did "Mohair Sam" in 1965 -- and his work had more than its fair share of fans, including Elvis Presley, whose comeback recordings of the late '60s were uncannily similar to Rich. Despite the good word of mouth and his constant desire to try new things (actually, maybe because of that), Rich found himself without hits until 1973, when he became a superstar due to the massive success of "Behind Closed Doors." Drenched in lush strings, impeccably arranged, and unabashedly melodic, the single bore all the hallmarks of Epic's powerhouse producer Billy Sherrill, who had been making similar-sounding records for George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Sherrill had been helming Rich's records since the late '60s, but "Behind Closed Doors" and its accompanying album of the same name was the first time he gave the singer the full-blown Sherrill treatment. To his credit, Rich never sounded as if he was drowning in strings or that he was doing a sugarcoated pop move (even if it may have played that way). Instead, it sounded like a natural progression of how he blurred boundaries between styles and genres. After all, this was a musician that had a minor country hit in 1970 with a reworking of Frank Sinatra's "Nice N Easy." "Behind Closed Doors," in some ways, is a kindred spirit to that single, since it's pitched perfectly between country and pop. Lyrically, it was a perfect country song; the narrator pledges his devotion to his woman and how nobody understands their love, since they don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Musically, the melody certainly had a country lilt, but it was stately, assured, and melodic, the kind of song that any vocalist, of any genre, would have been eager to make his or her own. Many tried. Percy Sledge, Albert King, Tom Jones, Dolly Parton, and Freddy Fender all recorded it, as did many other artists, including instrumentalists like Boots Randolph and Floyd Cramer. All of these were listenable; some were revelatory; many were pleasant, serving to illustrate what an adaptable, well-crafted song Kenny O'Dell wrote. Still, Charlie Rich's original version towered above them all, since it not only had one of Billy Sherrill's most gorgeous productions but Rich's astonishing, nuanced delivery made it seem like he had written the song himself about his own love for his wife. It became a hit not just on the country charts, where it peaked at number one, but on the pop charts as well. It was named Single of the Year by the CMA (that same year, 1973, Rich was named Male Vocalist of the Year, largely due to this song and its successor, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World") and it went gold. Even with such accolades, the most impressive thing about "Behind Closed Doors" is that it deservedly made a cult figure of a genuine country superstar.