Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Charlie Black died on Friday (April 23) at age 71.
Black is best known as the co-writer of Anne Murray’s “A Little Good News,” Reba McEntire’s “You Lie” and Jennifer Warnes’ “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” among more than 20 other Top 10 country hits. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.
Charles Frank Black was raised in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. He was a construction worker, custodian and produce delivery driver in his early years.
After attending the University of Maryland, he moved to Nashville in 1970 at age 21. His ambition was to become a singer, but country star Tommy Overstreet began recording his co-written songs, which altered Black’s course. Those songs included the top-10 hits “I Don’t Know You (Anymore)” (1971), “Send Me No Roses” (1973), “I’ll Never Break These Chains” (1973), “(Jeannie Marie) You Were a Lady” (1974) and “If I Miss You Again Tonight” (1974).
Black and Rory Bourke became songwriting collaborators in the late 1970s. Anne Murray’s recording of their “Shadows in the Moonlight” became a No. 1 hit in 1979. Teaming up with Kerry Chater, they scored with “I Know a Heartache When I See One” by Jennifer Warnes in that same year. These hits led to Black being named SESAC Country Songwriter of the Year in 1979.
The songwriting team was also responsible for Murray’s hits “Lucky Me” (1980), “Blessed Are the Believers” (1981) and “Another Sleepless Night” (1982). In 1983, “A Little Good News” was named the CMA Single of the Year, earned Murray a Grammy Award and was nominated as the year’s Best Country Song at the Grammys. Black took home ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year honors in 1983 and 1984.
Black, Bourke and Jerry Gillespie were responsible for “Do You Love As Good As You Look,” which was a No. 1 smash for The Bellamy Brothers in 1981.
Another longtime songwriting collaborator was Tommy Rocco. He and Black co-wrote such hits as “Be There For Me Baby” (Johnny Lee, 1982), “Sounds Like Love” (Johnny Lee, 1983), “Slow Burn” (T.G. Sheppard, 1984) and “Another Motel Memory” (Shelly West, 1984). Joined by songwriter Austin Roberts, they also wrote “Honor Bound” (Earl Thomas Conley, 1985) and “Strong Heart” (T.G. Sheppard, 1986).
Roberts and Black co-wrote the No. 1 Gary Morris hit “100% Chance of Rain” (1986). Roberts, Black and Steve Dorff provided Lee Greenwood with “Someone” (1987). Roberts, Black and Buzz Cason created “Timeless and True Love” for The McCarters (1988), and the song was later covered by Jeannie Kendall & Alan Jackson (2003).
Black entered the 1990s as a songwriter by garnering another No. 1 hit, this time with K.T. Oslin (and Bourke) on “Come Next Monday” (1990). Black, Roberts and Bobby Fischer were behind Reba McEntire’s chart-topping “You Lie” (1990). Fischer, Black and Fred MacRae co-wrote the 1994 BlackHawk hit “Goodbye Says It All.”
In 1998, Jo Dee Messina revived “I Know a Heartache When I See One.” In that same year, Black formed a new songwriting partnership with Phil Vassar. They co-wrote Collin Raye’s “Little Red Rodeo” (1998) and Alan Jackson’s “Right on the Money” (1999), as well as Vassar’s singles “Carlene” (with Bourke, 1999), “Six Pack Summer” (with Rocco, 2001) and “Don’t Miss Your Life” (2012).
Others who recorded Charlie Black’s songs included Kenny Rogers, Lynn Anderson, John Conlee, Crystal Gayle, George Strait, Andy Williams, Juice Newton, Charlie Rich, Jerry Reed, The Osmond Brothers, Bobby Bare, Don Williams and Joe Nichols.
Black was married to songwriter Dana Hunt. She co-wrote the George Strait No. 1 hits “Check Yes or No” (with Danny Wells, the 1995 CMA Single of the Year) and “Write This Down” (with Kent Robbins, 1999).
The couple relocated from Nashville to Port St. Joe, Florida several years ago. Charlie Black’s death there was confirmed on his Wikipedia page and by NSAI board president Steve Bogard. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
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