On Dec. 9, 1978, Charlie Rich and Janie Fricke’s “On My Knees” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

Rich solely authored the song — which Billy Sherrill produced — and he initially recorded it in 1976 as a solo track before it became a duet.

For Rich, originally from Forrest City, Ark., and nicknamed the Silver Fox thanks to his shiny mane, the single became the last of his nine chart-toppers. Fricke, from South Whitney, Ind., earned her first of eight leaders with the team-up.

Rich first led Hot Country Songs in 1973 with “Behind Closed Doors” and followed with “The Most Beautiful Girl,” the latter also a No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Both hits helped him earn the entertainer of the year award from the Country Music Association in 1974. He passed away in 1995 at age 62 and was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

In 2008, Mark Chesnutt scored the most recent of his 32 top 40 Hot Country Songs hits with “Rollin’ With the Flow,” an update of Rich’s eighth No. 1, from 1977.

Fricke, 75, began as a background vocalist for the likes of John Conlee, Johnny Duncan and Crystal Gayle. She claimed the CMA’s female vocalist of the year trophy in 1982 and 1983. Still active as a touring artist, she has a round of dates scheduled to begin in April.

Notably, in 1984, Fricke appeared in the seventh and final season premiere of CBS’ The Dukes of Hazzard, in a flashback origin story in which he played a bank robber named Ginny whose getaway car would later become the famed General Lee. “That was really an exciting time for me,” she recalled in 2019. “I was doing a show with Merle Haggard in LA when the casting director came backstage and asked me if I wanted to be on the show. She said if I could sing, I could surely act. I was the only country singer to ever play an acting role on the show. Other stars like Dottie West, Oak Ridge Boys and Freddy Fender all got to perform songs on the show in the Boar’s Nest.

“When we filmed the episode,” Fricke further reminisced, “it took us 10 days to tape that one show and we had to wear the same outfit every day. It was really funny because even the chickens on the show had a manager and agent. Yes, animals have agents, too! Fans bring General Lee cars for me to sign all the time at shows and it just proves that people still love the down-home country lifestyle that all the Dukes lived.”

Gary Trust
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