Talk about a classic.
On this date in 1985, the late, great Ray Charles and Willie Nelson were topping the country charts with their timeless, signature duet, “Seven Spanish Angels”.
Written by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, it was first released in November 1984 as a single from Charles’ 1984 album Friendship, and Willie also included it on his 1985 compilation album Half Nelson.
It was the most successful of Ray’s eight hits on the country chart, as the single spent one week #1 one and a total of twelve weeks on the country chart.
Troy explained in The Billboard Book Of Number One Country Hits that they had set out to emulate Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” when they wrote the song:
“We started writing, hoping we could emulate Marty Robbins and ‘El Paso.’ We didn’t think we had a song like that, but that whole flavor of the Southwest and cowboys.
Of course, the chorus is kind of an old wives’ tale, and old story that’s been handed down.”
Legendary producer Billy Sherrill had initially wanted Ronnie Milsap to sing it solo, but after he declined, Willie accepted the offer as a duet with Charles.
And the rest, as they say, is beautiful country music history (or something like that).
It’s such a powerful and beautiful duet, and seeing the two of them perform it together is truly something special.
What a damn duo… it’s rare you ever get this much talent on one song, and that’s why it’s an all-time classic: