Like many musicians, Charlie Chalmers
began playing music in his high school marching band. The musical skills he
honed served him well, as he became a hit arranger & sax player on recording
sessions at a very young age in Memphis, Tennessee.
By age 19, Charlie had worked on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis.
He also worked extensively with Charlie Rich,
and was starting to become well respected around Memphis as a funky sax
Charlie's soulful playing came to the attention
of (Elvis' bass player), Bill Black, of the "Bill Black Combo".
Bill called Chalmers for a session one day & it turned out well, so he
called him back again. The word soon got around & before long every studio
in Memphis was calling Charlie to
play sax on their recordings.
Not long after working with Bill
Black, Willie Mitchell, who was also a HI recording artist, asked
Charlie to play sax on some of his recordings. Charlie played lead sax on Willie's biggest instrumental hit, "Soul Serenade". Willie
then called Charlie to work regularly on his productions,
not only as a saxophone player, but also as an arranger, and back up singer.
How Charlie became a studio backup singer is an
interesting little story. One day Willie Mitchell asked Charlie to come in & play
sax, for a new artist he was producing. After they finished doing the horns, Willie asked Charlie about some girls to sing back up vocals on the
session, so Charlie called Sandra & Donna Rhodes to come over &
do the session.
The girls came in & after they sang for a while, Willie looked over at Charlie and said:
"The sound just ain't fat enough....
get out there, and sing with them, and see if that will beef it up
some." Charlie did as Willie requested & that magic blend started to happen. "WOW, what a
sound", Willie screamed from the control room. Well, history was made
that day! "Let's Stay
Together" by Al Green was the song they were singing on & it became a monster hit. That was
only the beginning for Charlie as a back up singer & the group called Rhodes, Chalmers, & Rhodes.
They became legendary,
singing together on countless hit recordings, for many years to come. Charlie,
Sandra & Donna sang with Al Green on his
latest album, "I Can't Stop", produced by Willie Mitchell, for
Blue Note Records, (2003).
Memphis wasn't the only major
recording scene happening for Charlie. Before recording with Al Green,
Charlie was asked to go to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to play sax on a Wilson
Pickett recording date for Atlantic Records. "Land Of A Thousand
Dances" &" Mustang Sally" were 2 of the songs he recorded
with Pickett that week, and it was then that Charlie met Jerry Wexler, & Tom
Dowd. Charlie, and these two top record producers would make many great
recordings together as time went on.
Some of those great recordings were
made with Aretha Franklin, produced by Wexler and Dowd
for the Atlantic label. Charlie did horn arrangements and played sax on most of
Aretha's hits... "I Ain't Never Loved A Man", "Respect",
"Do Right Woman", "Chain of Fools" "Dr. Feel Good", & "See
Saw", are some of those GREAT recordings.
of Fame Recording, also greatly influenced Charlie’s career. Rick produced many hits
in Muscle Shoals, Alabama & Charlie worked closely with him, on artists such as: Etta James, Clarence Carter,
(The Osmonds, Donnie &
Marie), Paul Anka, Doby Gray, Mac Davis, Andy Williams, Wayne Newton, to
name a few. Rick
also produced an album on Charlie. "Sax And The Single Girl" that is
still selling around the world, and is available on Chess Records. After Rhodes, Chalmers, &
Rhodes sang on the "Having My Baby" album, Paul Anka
asked if they would do, a few live dates with him in Las Vegas. Those
"few" live dates turned in to three years at Caesar's Palace. Knowing he still had to keep his clients happy, Charlie located a studio, in Las Vegas, where he could
bring in clients to record. One
of Chalmers great memories is singing back up on a Frank Sinatra session.
told Sinatra he should use Rhodes, Chalmers, & Rhodes
to sing back up on a new album he was going to record. Frank took Paul's
advice & was very happy with the outcome.
After working for several years in
Vegas, Charlie & the girls
Miami. While in Miami, they recorded with Andy Gibb, The Bee Gees, Fire Fall, Harry
Chapin, John Meloncamp, K.C. & The Sunshine Band, and others. The Miami
scene kept them busy for several more years.
In 1989 Mel Tillis asked Charlie
to work with him at his new theatre in Branson,
Missouri. After two years with Mel, Charlie decided to build his recording
studio in Branson. It has been a great success, and this is where you
can find Charlie today, Producing &
Recording at his studio, over looking beautiful "Table Rock Lake".