- Ray Charles
Infobox musical artist
Name = Ray Charles
Img_capt = Last concert of Ray Charles, at the
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletierof the Place des Artsduring the Festival International de Jazz de Montréalin 2003. Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich.
Img_size = 250
Landscape = yes
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Ray Charles Robinson
Alias = Brother Ray
Born = birth date|1930|9|23
Albany, Georgia, USA
Origin = Greenville,
Died = death date and age|2004|6|10|1930|9|23
Vocals, piano/ keyboards, alto saxophone
Blues, rhythm and blues, pop, soul, country soul, jazz
Singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, bandleader
Years_active = 1947–2004
Label = Atlantic, ABC,
Warner Bros. Records
Associated_acts = The Raelettes,
Quincy Jones, Betty Carter
URL = [http://www.raycharles.com/ www.raycharles.com]
Ray Charles Robinson (
September 23, 1930– June 10, 2004), known by his stage nameRay Charles, was an American pianistand singer, who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music, pop standards, and a rendition of " America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradleyof " 60 Minutes" called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sung it." [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/14/60minutes/main649346.shtml "The Genius Of Ray Charles"] , an article about an 1986 segment on Charles from " 60 Minutes"] Frank Sinatracalled him "the only true genius in the business" [cite news
title = 'Ray Charles' scheduled to 'Hit the Road,' come to Austin
author = Alex Regnery
publisher = The Daily Texan
year = 2106
url = http://www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2006/11/02/LifeArts/ray-Charles.Scheduled.To.hit.The.Road.Come.To.Austin-2434509.shtml?norewrite200611251702&sourcedomain=www.dailytexanonline.com
accessdate = 2006-11-25] and in 2004,
Rolling Stone Magazineranked Charles [cite web| title = Ray Charles | work = Van Morrison. Rolling Stone Issue 946| publisher = Rolling Stone| url = http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939211/10_ray_charles] #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.cite web| title = The Immortals: The First Fifty| work = Rolling Stone Issue 946| publisher = Rolling Stone| url =http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939214/the_immortals_the_first_fifty]
Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia on birth date|1930|9|23. [cite news
title = A Singular Blend of Styles
author = Adam Bernstein and Paloma Bernstein
publisher = Washington Post amanda
year = 2006
url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31749-2004Jun10.html
accessdate = 2006-11-25] He was the son of Aretha Williams, who stacked boards in a
sawmill, and Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic and handyman.cite web|url=http://www.swingmusic.net/Ray_Charles_Biography.html|title=Ray Charles Biography|work=SwingMusic.Net|accessdate=2008-02-14] The two were never married. The family moved to Greenville, Florida, when Ray was an infant. Bailey had three more families, leaving Aretha to raise the family on her own. When Charles was five, he witnessed his younger brother, George, drown in a large portable laundry tub.
Ray Charles began to go blind when he was five. He became totally blind by the age of seven. [http://www.boheme-magazine.net/php/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=258 "Bohème Magazine"] Obituary: Ray Charles (1930 – 2004)] Charles never knew exactly why he lost his sight, though there are sources which suggest his blindness was due to
glaucoma, and some other sources suggest that Ray began to lose his sight from an infection caused by soapy water to his eyes which was left untreated. [http://www.boheme-magazine.net/php/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=258 "Bohème Magazine"] Obituary: Ray Charles (1930 – 2004)] He attended school at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blindin St. Augustine, Florida. He also learned how to write music and play various musical instruments. While he was there, his mother died followed by his father two years later.
Before he left school, Charles began working as a musician in many bands that played in various styles, including
jazzand, in Tampa“with a hillbillyband called The Florida Playboys." This is where Charles began his reputation of always wearing sunglasses. [ [http://www.black-network.com/charlesbio.htm blacknetwork.com] Ray Charles on Ray]
Charles moved to Seattle in 1947.cite news
title = Charles, Ray (1930–2004)
publisher = HistoryLink url = http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5707
accessdate = 2006-11-25] He soon started recording, first for the label Swingtime Records, achieving his first hit with "Confession Blues", recorded in 1949. The song hit #2 on the R&B charts. He followed his first recording with his only other hit with Swingtime, "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. It hit #5 on the R&B charts. He then signed with
Ahmet Ertegünat Atlantic Recordsa year later. When he entered show business, his name was shortened to Ray Charles to avoid confusion with opera star boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
Breakthrough period with Atlantic Records
Almost immediately after signing with Atlantic, Charles scored his first hit singles with the label with "
It Should Have Been Me" and the Ertegun-composed " Mess Around", both making the charts in 1953. But it was Charles' " I Got A Woman" (composed with band mate Renald Richard [ [http://allmusic.cam/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:hvfexxq0ldse allmusic ] ] ) that brought the musician to national prominence.
The song reached the top of
Billboard's R&B singles chart in 1955 and from there until 1959, Charles would have a series of R&B chart-toppers including " This Little Girl of Mine", " Lonely Avenue", "Mary Ann", " Drown in My Own Tears" and "The Night Time (Is the Right Time)", which were compiled on his Atlantic releases "Hallelujah, I Love Her So", " Yes Indeed!", and " The Genius Sings the Blues". During this time of transition, he recruited a young girl group from Philadelphia named the Cookies as his background singing group, recording with them in New York and changing their name to the Raelettesin the process. Former record producer Joel Dornoften wrote letters to Nesuhi Erteguntelling them that he should do a duet.
In 1959, Charles crossed over to top 40 radio with the release of his impromptu
bluesnumber, "What'd I Say", which was initially conceived while Charles was in concert. The song would reach number 1 on the R&B list and would become Charles' first top ten single on the pop charts, peaking at number 6. Charles would also record " The Genius of Ray Charles", before leaving Atlantic for a more lucrative deal with ABC Recordsin 1959.
Hit songs such as "
Georgia On My Mind" (US #1), " Hit the Road Jack" (US #1) and "Unchain My Heart" (US #9) helped him transition to pop success and his landmark 1962 album, " Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" and its sequel "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2", helped to bring country into the mainstream of music. He also had major pop hits in 1963 with "Busted" (US #4) and "Take These Chains From My Heart" (US #8).
In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of
heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for nearly 20 years. It was his third arrest for the offence, but he avoided jailtime after kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles. He spent a year on parolein 1966, when his single " Crying Time" reached #6 on the charts.
During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Charles' releases were hit-or-miss, [http://www.boheme-magazine.net/php/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=258 "Bohème Magazine"] Obituary: Ray Charles (1930 – 2004)] with some big hits and critically acclaimed work. His version of "
Georgia On My Mind" was proclaimed the state songof Georgia on April 24, 1979, with Charles performing it on the floor of the state legislature. He also had success with his unique version of " America the Beautiful." In November 1977 Charles appeared as the host of NBC's " Saturday Night Live". [ [http://snltranscripts.jt.org/77/77e.phtml SNL Transcripts: Ray Charles: 11/12/77 ] ]
In the late 1980s a number of events increased Charles' recognition among young audiences. He made a cameo appearance in the popular 1980 film "The Blues Brothers". In 1985, "The Right Time" was featured in the episode "Happy Anniversary" of "
The Cosby Show" on NBC. In a Pepsi Cola commercial of the early 1990s, Charles popularized the catchphrase" You Got the Right One, Baby!"
In 1989, Charles recorded a cover version of the Japanese band
Southern All Stars' song "Itoshi no Ellie" as "Ellie My Love" for a SuntoryTV advertisement, reaching #3 on Japan's Oriconchart. [http://www2.wbs.ne.jp/~ms-db/oricon/oricon_single_89.htm List of best-selling international singles in Japan of 1989] , Extract from the Year-End chart posted by oricon] Eventually, it sold more than 400,000 copies, and became that year's best-selling single performed by a Western artist for the Japanese music market.
Charles has also appeared at two Presidential inaugurations. In 1985, he performed for Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, and in 1993 performed for Bill Clinton's first inauguration. [ [http://imdb.com/name/nm0153124/bio Internet Movie Database Bio on Ray Charles] ]
In the late '80s and early '90s, Charles made appearances on "The Super Dave Osbourne Show", where he performed and appeared in a few vignettes where he was somehow driving a car, often as Super Dave's chauffeur. At the height of his newfound fame in the early nineties, Charles did guest vocals for quite a few projects. He also appeared (with
Chaka Khan) on long time friend Quincy Jones' hit " I'll Be Good to You" in 1990, from Jones' album " Back on the Block".
Jim Henson's death in 1990, Ray Charles appeared in the one-hour CBS tribute, "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson". He gave a short speech about the deceased, stating that Henson "took a simple song and a piece of felt and turned it into a moment of great power". Charles was referring to the song "It's Not Easy Being Green", which Charles later performed with the rest of the Muppet cast in a tribute to Henson's legacy.
During the sixth season of "
Designing Women", Ray Charles vocally performed " Georgia On My Mind", rather than the song being rendered by other musicians without lyrics as in the previous five seasons.
In 2000, Charles made a special guest appearance on
Blue's CluesBig Musical Movie as a fictional character named G-Clef. The Persuasionsalso made a guest appearance as his companions. Charles recorded "There It Is" during and after filming with Steve Burnsand Traci Paige Johnson. After recording, Charles commented "This has been the most fun I have had since I met President Reagan in '84."
In 2002 Charles headlined during the Blues Passions Cognac festival in southern
In 2002 he took part with other musicians in a peace concert in
Rome, which was the first event to take place inside the city’s ancient Colosseumsince A.D. 404. The event was organized in partnership with the Glocal Forumand the Quincy JonesListen Up Foundation.
In June, 2003, Ray Charles presented one of his greatest admirers,
Van Morrison, with his award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fameand the two sang Morrison's song from the " Moondance" album, " Crazy Love". This performance is captured on Morrison's 2007 album, " The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3".
On Friday, April 11th 2003, Ray Charles sang 'America The Beautiful' at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, prior to the rained out Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2003 Charles performed "Georgia On My Mind" and "America the Beautiful" at a televised annual electronic media journalist banquet held in
Washington, D.C., at what may have been his final performance in public. Ray Charles' final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studioas a historic landmarkin the city of Los Angeles.
He died on
June 10, 2004of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) at his home in Beverly Hills, California, surrounded by family and friends. His body was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemeteryin Inglewood, California.
His final album, "
Genius Loves Company", released two months after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries: B.B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Johnny Mathis. The album won eight Grammy Awards, including five for Ray Charles for Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones, and Best Gospel Performance for "Heaven Help Us All" with Gladys Knight; he also received nods for his duets with Elton John and B.B. King.
The album included a version of
Harold Arlen's " Over the Rainbow", sung as a duet by Charles and Johnny Mathis; that recording was later played at his memorial service. [cite news
title = Many Pay Respects To Ray Charles
publisher = CBS News
year = 2004
url = http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/06/10/entertainment/main622401.shtml
accessdate = 2006-11-25]
Two more posthumous albums, "
Genius & Friends" (2005) and "Ray Sings, Basie Swings" (2006), were released. " Genius & Friends" consisted of duets recorded from 1997-2005 with artists were personally chosen by Ray Charles. "Ray Sings, Basie Swings" consists of archived vocals of Ray Charles from a live 1973 performance added to Count Basie's music. Charles' vocals recorded from the concert mixing board were added to a new accompaniment by the Count BasieOrchestra (among others). Gregg Field, who had performed as a drummer with both Charles and Basie, produced this album. and his T.V. show on fox television
Controversies and criticisms
Despite his support of
Martin Luther King, Jr.in the 1960s and his support for the American Civil Rights Movement, Charles courted controversy when he toured South Africain 1981, during an international boycott of the country because of its apartheidpolicy. Susaye Greene, former member of Charles' Raelettes, as well as the Supremesand Wonderloveand currently a solo artist, was noted for being the only Raelette to sing at Ray Charles' funeral. After the funeral, the BBC said "it did not go unnoticed that Susaye was the only Raelette to sing at Ray's funeral."Fact|date=April 2008
Charles was married twice and fathered 12 children by 7 different women.cite web|title=Marriages of Ray Charles|url=http://marriage.about.com/od/entertainmen1/p/charlesray.htm|work=About.com|accessdate=2008-02-14] [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/14/60minutes/main649346.shtml The Genius Of Ray Charles, 60 Minutes Looks Back At The Life And Loves Of A True Original - CBS News ] ] His first marriage to Eileen Williams was brief:
July 31, 1951to 1952. He has three children from his second marriage to Della Beatrice Howard Robinson from April 5, 1955to 1977. His long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.
His children are:
*Charles Wayne Hendricks (son of Marge Hendricks — one of the Raelettes)
*Evelyn Robinson (daughter of Louise Mitchell)
*Raenee Robinson (daughter of Mae Mosely Lyles)
*Sheila Robinson (daughter of Sandra)
*Jean Bettincent Kotchounian (son of Arlette Kotchounian — worked with him as photographer on "Would You Believe" album)
*David Robinson (son of Della Robinson)
*Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. (son of Della Robinson)
*Reverend Robert Robinson (son of Della Robinson)
*Alexandria Bertrand (daughter of Chantelle Bertrand)
*Robyn Moffett (daughter of Gloria Moffett)
*Ryan Corey Robinson den Bok (son of Mary Anne den Bok)
Charles gave each of his 12 children $1,000,000 tax free in 2004 [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_18_106/ai_n6358894 Ray Charles gives each of his 12 kids $1million dollars tax free!] just before he died.
Ray Charles discography"
*"Swingin' Along" (1961)
*"Ballad in Blue" (1964)
*"The Big T.N.T. Show" (1966) (documentary)
*"The Blues Brothers" (1980)
*"Limit Up" (1989)
*"Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones" (1990) (documentary)
*"The Nanny (Sam)
*"Love Affair" (1994)
Spy Hard" (1996)
Adv. Super Dave" (2000)
"Ray": the film
Charles was significantly involved in the biopic "Ray", an October 2004 film which portrays his life and career between 1930 and 1966 and stars
Jamie Foxxas Charles. Foxx won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actorfor the role.
Before shooting could begin, however, director
Taylor Hackfordbrought Foxx to meet Charles, who insisted that they sit down at two pianos and play together. For two hours, Charles challenged Foxx, who revealed the depth of his talent, and finally, Charles stood up, hugged Foxx, and gave his blessing, proclaiming, "He's the one... he can do it."
Charles was expected to attend a showing of the completed film, but he died before it opened in theaters.
As noted in the film's final credits, "Ray" is based on true events, but includes some characters, names, locations, events which have been changed and others which have been "fictionalized for dramatization purposes." One example of the film's use of dramatic license are the scenes which refer to Charles as being banned from Georgia.
The film's credits note that he is survived by 12 children, 21 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.
Halls of Fame and other honors
Besides winning dozens of Grammy Awards in his career, Charles was also honored in many other ways. In 1979, he was one of the first honorees of the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame being recognized for being a musician born in the state. [cite news
title = List of Inductees
date = 1979 - 2007
publisher = Georgia Music Hall of Fame
url = http://www.gamusichall.com/inducteelist.html
accessdate = 2006-11-25] Ray's version of "Georgia On My Mind" was made into the official state song for Georgia. [cite news
title = State Song
year = 1979
publisher = Georgia Secretary of State
url = http://www.sos.state.ga.us/state_capitol/education_corner/state_song.html
accessdate = 2006-11-25] In 1981, he was given a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fameand was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fameat its inaugural ceremony in 1986. [cite news
title = Inductees
publisher = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum
url = http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=76
accessdate = 2006-11-25] He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986. [cite news
title = List of Kennedy Center Honorees
year = 1986
publisher = Kennedy Center
url = http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/honors/history/home.html
accessdate = 2006-11-25] In 1987, he was awarded the
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1991, he was inducted to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. In 1998 he was awarded the Polar Music Prizetogether with Ravi Shankarin Stockholm, Sweden.In 2004 he was inducted to the Jazz Hall of Fame, and inducted to the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame. [cite news
title = Hall of Fame
year = 2004
publisher = National Black Sports & Entertainment
url = http://www.harlemdiscover.com/halloffame/
accessdate = 2006-11-25] Also in 2004,
Rolling Stone Magazineranked him #10 on their list of the [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939214/the_immortals_the_first_fifty/ 100 Greatest Artists of All Time] .
Grammy Awards of 2005were dedicated to Charles.
On December 7, 2007, Ray Charles Plaza was opened in
Albany, Georgia, with a revolving, lighted bronze sculptureof Charles seated at a piano.
On December 26, 2007, Ray Charles was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Ray Charles Post Office Building
On Tuesday, July 12, 2005, President George Bush signed into law, a bill (PL 109-25), sponsored by Congresswomen Diane E. Watson (CA-33rd), designating the U.S. postal facility located at 4960 W. Washington Blvd., in Los Angeles, California, as the Ray Charles Post Office Building. On August 24, 2005, the
United States Congresshonored Charles by dedicating and renaming the former West Adams Station post office in Los Angeles the "Ray Charles Station".
* [http://www.raycharles.com/ Ray Charles website]
*MusicBrainz artist|id= 2ce02909-598b-44ef-a456-151ba0a3bd70|name=Ray Charles
* [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/raycharles Ray Charles] at
* [http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/artist_bio.asp?artistId=96 Ray Charles] at
Songwriters Hall of Fame
* [http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/ray-charles Ray Charles] at
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
* [http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8896492 Ray Charles] at
Find A Grave
* [http://www.visionaryproject.com/charlesray Ray Charles' oral history video excerpts] at The National Visionary Leadership Project
* [http://www.raycharles.com/the_man_autobiography.html Autobiography]
* [http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com/site/exhibits-detail.aspx?cid=221 Ray Charles Past Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum]
* [http://www.genesis-publications.com/press/forthcoming_charles.html Photography of Ray Charles by his manager of over 40 years, Mr Joe Adams]
NAME= Charles, Ray
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Robinson, Raymond Charles
Vocalist, musician, songwriter, arranger, bandleader
DATE OF BIRTH=
September 23, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH= Albany, Georgia, U.S.
DATE OF DEATH=
June 10, 2004
PLACE OF DEATH=Beverly Hills,
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