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  • Born

    26 March 1956 (age 62)

Early life

Childhood & teen years
Charlotte Denise McClain was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1956. Originally named Charlotte, "Charly" was given her masculine moniker by neighborhood friends in Memphis, and she also used it when she started playing hotel lounges. When Epic Records decided it sounded catchier than Charlotte, it became a permanent professional banner. McClain's father had tuberculosis when she was eight, and, since she was under age for visitation rights at the hospital, she had to communicate with him through a tape recorder.

Career discovery
McClain's use of the tape recorder with her father inspired her interest in singing. McClain soon began performing in public regularly. She began singing in the club circuit by the time she was seventeen. She then gained a recording contract with Epic Records by the time McClain was almost twenty years old. She began her musical career at age 12 with her brother in a band called "Charlotte & The Volunteers" for 6 years. Her first appearance was on TV in Jackson, Tennessee, local station WBBJ morning show. She was a regular on local Memphis show "Mid-South Jamboree" from 1973-1975.

Signed to her first recording contract in 1976, McClain's distinct vocal sound provided an edge in recognizability — as did her appearance.

Country music career

1976 – 1980: Country beginnings
McClain debuted in late 1976 with her first single, "Lay Me Down", which peaked at #67 on the Billboard Country Chart. McClain's first singles between 1976 through 1977, mainly from her debut album Here's Charly McClain, did not chart very high on the Country charts at the time. McClain's second album, titled Let Me Be Your Baby, was released in 1978. She hit country's Top Ten for the first time in 1978 with "That's What You Do to Me," followed by two other Top 25 hits from the album, "Let Me Be Your Baby" and "Take Me Back".

McClain had a series of Top 20 hits between 1978 and 1980, including "When Love Ain't Right", "You're a Part of Me", and "I Hate the Way I Love It", a duet with Johnny Rodriguez. Occasionally McClain's singles would enter the Top 10. She had two Top 10 hits during this time, "That's What You Do to Me" (1978), followed by "Men", which peaked at #7 in 1980. However, McClain still hadn't achieved breakthrough success.

McClain released two albums between 1979 and 1980, Alone too Long (1979) and Women Get Lonely (1980).

1981 – 1989: Breakthrough
McClain hit the top spot one year later with "Who's Cheatin' Who." This brought McClain breakthrough success for the 1980s. In 1981, McClain had three Top 10 hits off her Surround Me With Love, the title track, "Sleepin' With the Radio on", and "The Very Best is You". McClain's albums were also beginning to become more successful as well. Her Who's Cheatin' Who album peaked at #9 on the "Top Country Albums" chart, as did her 1981 album, Surround Me With Love.

She stayed in the upper reaches during 1982 with "Dancing Your Memory Away" and "Sentimental Ol' You," then hit number one again in 1983 with her Mickey Gilley duet "Paradise Tonight." "Paradise Tonight" became McClain's second #1 hit in 1983. McClain's and Gilley's duet partnership became so successful, they released a duet album the following year, It Takes Believers, which spawned the Top 5 hit, "Candy Man", which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Country Chart, followed by "The Right Stuff", which became a Top 15 hit.

McClain also acted occasionally, appearing as a guest star on such shows as Hart to Hart and CHiPs. McClain's lonely life on the road was also chronicled in a 1981 HBO special titled "So You Want to Be a Star."

McClain released another big-selling album in 1985, Radio Heart, after having a series of minor solo hits in 1984. The title track off became a #1 Country hit in 1985, McClain's last #1 hit to date. The album also spawned two other Top 10 hits that year. McClain married former soap star Wayne Massey in 1984, and their own duet ("With Just One Look in Your Eyes") reached number five. The third single off the album was also a duet with Massey, "You Are My Music, You Are My Song." The album, Radio Heart peaked at #15 on the "Top Country Albums" chart in 1985, and became on of McClain's best-known songs.

McClain's success began to subside after 1986, as Country-pop styled music was becoming unfavorable on Country radio. Her 1987 album brought only one Top 40 single, "Don't Touch Me There", which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Country Chart. The other singles did not become as successful. The album became McClain's last album with Epic, as she parted ways with them the following year. She continued to chart until her last recording came in 1989. She recorded one studio album with Mercury Records before the end of the decade. She charted until the end of 1989. Her last charted single was "You Got the Job", which peaked at #65.

1990 – present: Current music career status
McClain has not recorded another studio album since 1989's self-titled album with Mercury, and thus has dropped out of the public eye. Since 1989, several compilation albums of her music have been released, including 1999's Anthology, which was a compilation CD of McClain's biggest hits under Epic, beginning with her late '70s hits to her last '80s hits.

McClain has not toured in the past ten years or so. As of 2007 she is still married to Wayne Massey.

Main article: Charly McClain discography

^ Charly McClain biography at All Music; retrieved March 30, 2008
^ Charly McClain biography at All Music; retrieved March 30, 2008
^ Charly McClain biography at her official website (
^ Charly McClain biography at All Music Guide
^ Charly McClain biography at All Music Guide
^ Charly McClain biography at
^ Charly McClain biography at; retrieved March 30, 2008
^ Charly McClain biography at
^ Charly McClain biography at All Music

External links
Charly McClain Official Website Charly McClain
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