|Birth name||Ray Charles Robinson|
|Born||September 23, 1930|
Albany, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||June 10, 2004 73) (aged|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called "Brother Ray". He was often referred to as "The Genius".Charles was blinded during childhood due to glaucoma.
Charles pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic.He contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company.
Charles' 1960 hit "Georgia On My Mind" was the first of his three career No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. His 1962 album Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music became his first album to top the Billboard 200.Charles had multiple singles reach the Top 40 on various Billboard charts: 44 on the US R&B singles chart, 11 on the Hot 100 singles chart, 2 on the Hot Country singles charts.
Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was also influenced by Louis Jordan and Charles Brown.He had a lifelong friendship and occasional partnership with Quincy Jones. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles "the only true genius in show business," although Charles downplayed this notion. Billy Joel said, "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley".
For his musical contributions, Charles received the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, and the Polar Music Prize. He won 17 Grammy Awards, including 5 posthumously.Charles was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, and 10 of his recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone ranked Charles No. 10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and No. 2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Ray Charles Robinsonwas the son of Bailey Robinson, a laborer, and Aretha (or Reatha) Williams, a laundress, of Greenville, Florida.
Aretha was described as a lovely slip of a girl with long wavy black hair; she was also sickly and walked with a cane. Her mother had died and her father, a man Bailey worked with, could not keep her. The Robinson family—Bailey, his wife Mary Jane and his mother—informally adopted her and Aretha took the surname Robinson. A few years later 15-year-old Aretha became pregnant by Bailey. During the ensuing scandal, she left Greenville late in the summer of 1930 to be with family in Albany, Georgia. After the birth of Ray Charles, she and her baby returned to Greenville. Aretha and Bailey's wife, who had lost a son, then shared in Charles' upbringing. His father abandoned the family, left Greenville, and married another woman elsewhere. By his first birthday Charles had a brother, George. In later years, no one could remember who George's father was.
Charles was deeply devoted to his mother and later recalled, despite her poor health and adversity, her perseverance, self-sufficiency, and pride which were guiding lights in his life.
In his early years, Charles showed an interest in mechanical objects and would often watch his neighbors working on their cars and farm machinery. His musical curiosity was sparked at Wylie Pitman's Red Wing Cafe, at the age of three, when Pitman played boogie woogie on an old upright piano; Pitman subsequently taught Charles how to play the piano. Charles and his mother were always welcome at the Red Wing Cafe and even lived there when they were in financial distress.Pitman would also care for Ray's younger brother George, to take some of the burden off their mother. George drowned in his mother's laundry tub when he was four years old.
Charles started to lose his sight at the age of fouror five, and was blind by the age of seven, apparently as a result of glaucoma. Destitute, uneducated, and mourning the loss of her younger son, Aretha Robinson used her connections in the local community to find a school that would accept a blind African-American pupil. Despite his initial protest, Charles attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945.
Charles further developed his musical talent at schooland was taught to play the classical piano music of J.S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. His teacher, Mrs. Lawrence, taught him how to use braille music, a difficult process that requires learning the left hand movements by reading braille with the right hand and learning the right hand movements by reading braille with the left hand, and then combining the two parts.
Ray Charles' mother died in the spring of 1945, when Ray was 14. Her death came as a shock to him; he later said the deaths of his brother and mother were "the two great tragedies" of his life. Charles decided not to return to school after the funeral.
After leaving school, Charles moved to Jacksonville to live with Charles Wayne Powell, who had been friends with his late mother. He played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla for over a year, 39 in 2019 dollars ). He joined Local 632 of the musicians' union, in the hope that it would help him get work, and was able to use the union hall's piano, since he did not have one at home, and where he learned piano licks from copying the other players. He started to build a reputation as a talented musician in Jacksonville, but the jobs did not come fast enough for him to construct a strong identity, so, at age 16, he moved to Orlando, where he lived in borderline poverty and went without food for days. It was difficult for musicians to find work, as since World War II had ended there were no "G.I. Joes" left to entertain. Charles eventually started to write arrangements for a pop music band, and in the summer of 1947 he unsuccessfully auditioned to play piano for Lucky Millinder and his sixteen-piece band.earning $4 a night (US$
In 1947, Charles moved to Tampa, where he had two jobs: one as a pianist for Charles Brantley's Honey Dippers.
In his early career, he modeled himself on Nat King Cole. His first four recordings—"Wondering and Wondering", "Walking and Talking", "Why Did You Go?" and "I Found My Baby There"—were allegedly made in Tampa, although some discographies claim he recorded them in Miami in 1951 or Los Angeles in 1952.
Charles had always played piano for other people, but he was keen to have his own band. He decided to leave Florida for a large city, and, considering Chicago and New York City too big, followed his friend Gossie McKee to Seattle, Washington, in March 1948, knowing that the biggest radio hits came from northern cities.Here he met and befriended, under the tutelage of Robert Blackwell, a 15-year-old Quincy Jones.
With Charles on piano, McKee on guitar and Milton Garrett on bass, the McSon trio (named for McKee and Robinson) started playing the one-to-five A.M. shift at the Rocking Chair.Publicity photos of the trio are some of the earliest known photographs of Charles. In April 1949, he and his band recorded "Confession Blues", which became his first national hit, soaring to the second spot on the Billboard R&B chart. While still working at the Rocking Chair, he also arranged songs for other artists, including Cole Porter's "Ghost of a Chance" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Emanon". After the success of his first two singles, Charles moved to Los Angeles in 1950, and spent the next few years touring with the blues musician Lowell Fulson as his musical director.
In 1950, his performance in a Miami hotel impressed Henry Stone, who went on to record a Ray Charles Rockin' record (which never became particularly popular). During his stay in Miami, Charles was required to stay in the segregated but thriving black community of Overtown. Stone later helped Jerry Wexler find Charles in St. Petersburg.
After signing with Swing Time Records, he recorded two more R&B hits under the name Ray Charles: "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" (1951), which reached No. 5, and "Kissa Me Baby" (1952), which reached No. 8. Swing Time folded the following year, and Ahmet Ertegun signed him to Atlantic.
In June 1952, Atlantic bought Charles's contract for $2,500 (US$24,070 in 2019 dollars ). His first recording session for Atlantic ("The Midnight Hour"/"Roll with My Baby") took place in September 1952, although his last Swing Time release ("Misery in My Heart"/"The Snow Is Falling") would not appear until February 1953.
In 1953, "Mess Around" became his first small hit for Atlantic; during the next year he had hits with "It Should've Been Me" and "Don't You Know".He also recorded the songs "Midnight Hour" and "Sinner's Prayer".
Late in 1954, Charles recorded "I've Got a Woman". The lyrics were written by bandleader Renald Richard. Charles claimed the composition. They later admitted that the song went back to The Southern Tones' "It Must Be Jesus" (1954). It became one of his most notable hits, reaching No. 2 on the R&B chart."I've Got a Woman" combined gospel, jazz, and blues. In 1955, he had hits with "This Little Girl of Mine" and "A Fool for You". In upcoming years, he scored with "Drown in My Own Tears" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So". In 1959, "What'd I Say" reached No. 6 on the Billboard Pop chart and No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart.
He also recorded jazz, such as The Great Ray Charles (1957) and worked with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, releasing Soul Brothers in 1958 and Soul Meeting in 1961. By 1958, he was not only headlining black venues such as the Apollo Theater in New York, but also bigger venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival where his first live album was recorded in 1958. He hired a female singing group, The Cookies, and renamed them The Raelettes. In 1958, Charles and The Raelettes performed for the famed Cavalcade of Jazz concert produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. held at the Shrine Auditorium on August 3. The other headliners were Little Willie John, Sam Cooke, Ernie Freeman, and Bo Rhambo. Sammy Davis Jr. was there to crown the winner of the Miss Cavalcade of Jazz beauty contest. The event featured the top four prominent disc jockeys of Los Angeles.
Charles reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of "What'd I Say", which combined gospel, jazz, blues and Latin music. Charles said he wrote it spontaneously while he was performing in clubs with his band. Despite some radio stations banning the song because of its sexually suggestive lyrics, the song became his first top ten pop record.
Later in 1959, he released his first country song (a cover of Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On") and recorded three more albums for the label: a jazz record ( The Genius After Hours , 1961); a blues record ( The Genius Sings the Blues , 1961); and a big band record ( The Genius of Ray Charles , 1959) which was his first Top 40 album, peaking at No. 17.
His contract with Atlantic expired in 1959, and several big labels offered him record deals; choosing not to renegotiate his contract with Atlantic, he signed with ABC-Paramount in November 1959. 438,527 in 2019 dollars ) annual advance, higher royalties than before and eventual ownership of his master tapes—a very valuable and lucrative deal at the time. During his Atlantic years, Charles had been heralded for his inventive compositions, but by the time of the release of the largely instrumental jazz album Genius + Soul = Jazz (1960) for ABC's subsidiary label Impulse!, he had given up on writing to follow his eclectic impulses as an interpreter.He obtained a more liberal contract than other artists had at the time, with ABC offering him a $50,000 (US$
With "Georgia on My Mind", his first hit single for ABC-Paramount in 1960, Charles received national acclaim and four Grammy Awards, including two for "Georgia on My Mind" (Best Vocal Performance Single Record or Track, Male, and Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist). Written by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael, the song was Charles's first work with Sid Feller, who produced, arranged and conducted the recording.
Charles earned another Grammy for the follow-up "Hit the Road Jack", written by R&B singer Percy Mayfield.
By late 1961, Charles had expanded his small road ensemble to a big band, partly as a response to increasing royalties and touring fees, becoming one of the few black artists to cross over into mainstream pop with such a level of creative control.This success, however, came to a momentary halt during a concert tour in November 1961, when a police search of Charles's hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana, led to the discovery of heroin in the medicine cabinet. The case was eventually dropped, as the search lacked a proper warrant by the police, and Charles soon returned to music.
In the early 1960s, on the way from Louisiana to Oklahoma City, Charles faced a near-death experience when the pilot of his plane lost visibility, as snow and his failure to use the defroster caused the windshield of the plane to become completely covered in ice. The pilot made a few circles in the air before he was finally able to see through a small part of the windshield and land the plane. Charles placed a spiritual interpretation on the event, claiming that "something or someone which instruments cannot detect" was responsible for creating the small opening in the ice on the windshield which enabled the pilot to land the plane safely.
The 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 music into the musical mainstream. Charles's version of the Don Gibson song "I Can't Stop Loving You" topped the Pop chart for five weeks, stayed at No. 1 on the R&B chart for ten weeks, and gave him his only number-one record in the UK. In 1962, he founded his record label, Tangerine, which ABC-Paramount promoted and distributed. 248 :213–16 He had major pop hits in 1963 with "Busted" (US No. 4) and Take These Chains from My Heart (US No. 8). In 1964 Margie Hendricks was kicked out of The Raelettes after a big argument.:
In 1964, Charles's career was halted once more after he was arrested for a third time for possession of heroin.He agreed to go to rehab to avoid jail time and eventually kicked his habit at a clinic in Los Angeles. After spending a year on parole, Charles reappeared in the charts in 1966 with a series of hits composed with Ashford & Simpson and Jo Armstead, including the dance number "I Don't Need No Doctor" and "Let's Go Get Stoned", which became his first number-one R&B hit in several years. His cover version of "Crying Time", originally recorded by country singer Buck Owens, reached No. 6 on the pop chart and helped Charles win a Grammy Award the following March. In 1967, he had a top-twenty hit with another ballad, "Here We Go Again".
Charles's renewed chart success, however, proved to be short lived, and by the 1970s his music was rarely played on radio stations. The rise of psychedelic rock and harder forms of rock and R&B music had reduced Charles' radio appeal, as did his choosing to record pop standards and covers of contemporary rock and soul hits, since his earnings from owning his masters had taken away the motivation to write new material. Charles nonetheless continued to have an active recording career. Most of his recordings between 1968 and 1973 evoked strong reactions: people either liked them a lot or strongly disliked them.His recordings during this period, especially 1972's A Message from the People, moved toward the progressive soul sound popular at the time. A Message from the People included his unique gospel-influenced version of "America the Beautiful" and a number of protest songs about poverty and civil rights. Charles was often criticized for his version of "America the Beautiful" because it was very drastically changed from the song's original version. On July 14, 1973, Margie Hendrix, the mother of Ray's son Charles Wayne Hendrix, died at 38 years old from a heroin overdose, which led to Ray caring for the child.
In 1974, Charles left ABC Records and recorded several albums on his own label, Crossover Records. A 1975 recording of Stevie Wonder's hit "Living for the City" later helped Charles win another Grammy. In 1977, he reunited with Ahmet Ertegun and re-signed to Atlantic Records, for which he recorded the album True to Life , remaining with his old label until 1980. However, the label had now begun to focus on rock acts, and some of their prominent soul artists, such as Aretha Franklin, were starting to be neglected. In November 1977 he appeared as the host of the NBC television show Saturday Night Live .
In April 1979, his version of "Georgia on My Mind" was proclaimed the state song of Georgia, and an emotional Charles performed the song on the floor of the state legislature. In 1980 Charles performed in the musical film The Blues Brothers.Although he had notably supported the American Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, Charles was criticized for performing at the Sun City resort in South Africa in 1981, during an international boycott protesting that country's apartheid policy. He later defended his choice of performing there after insisting that the audience of black and white fans would integrate while he was there.
In 1983, Charles signed a contract with Columbia. He recorded a string of country albums and had hit singles in duets with singers such as George Jones, Chet Atkins, B. J. Thomas, Mickey Gilley, Hank Williams Jr., Dee Dee Bridgewater ("Precious Thing") and his longtime friend Willie Nelson, with whom he recorded "Seven Spanish Angels".
In 1985, Charles participated in the famous musical recording and video "We Are the World", a charity single recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa.
Before the release of his first album for Warner, Would You Believe, Charles made a return to the R&B charts with a cover of the Brothers Johnson's "I'll Be Good to You", a duet with his lifelong friend Quincy Jones and the singer Chaka Khan, which hit number one on the R&B chart in 1990 and won Charles and Khan a Grammy for their duet. Prior to this, Charles returned to the pop charts with "Baby Grand", a duet with the singer Billy Joel. In 1989, he recorded a cover of the Southern All Stars' "Itoshi no Ellie" for a Japanese TV advertisement for the Suntory brand, releasing it in Japan as "Ellie My Love", where it reached No. 3 on its Oricon chart. In the same year he was a special guest at the Arena di Verona during the tour promoting Oro Incenso & Birra of the Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari.
In 2001–02, Charles appeared in commercials for the New Jersey Lottery to promote its campaign "For every dream, there's a jackpot".
In 2003, he headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C., attended by President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
Also in 2003, Charles presented Van Morrison with Morrison's award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the two sang Morrison's song "Crazy Love" (the performance appears on Morrison's 2007 album The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3 ). In 2003, Charles performed "Georgia on My Mind" and "America the Beautiful" at a televised annual banquet of electronic media journalists held in Washington, D.C. His final public appearance was on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio as a historic landmark in Los Angeles.
Charles possessed one of the most recognizable voices in American music. In the words of musicologist Henry Pleasants:
Sinatra, and Bing Crosby before him, had been masters of words. Ray Charles is a master of sounds. His records disclose an extraordinary assortment of slurs, glides, turns, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, screams and hollers, all wonderfully controlled, disciplined by inspired musicianship, and harnessed to ingenious subtleties of harmony, dynamics and rhythm... It is either the singing of a man whose vocabulary is inadequate to express what is in his heart and mind or of one whose feelings are too intense for satisfactory verbal or conventionally melodic articulation. He can't tell it to you. He can't even sing it to you. He has to cry out to you, or shout to you, in tones eloquent of despair—or exaltation. The voice alone, with little assistance from the text or the notated music, conveys the message.
Pleasants continues, "Ray Charles is usually described as a baritone, and his speaking voice would suggest as much, as would the difficulty he experiences in reaching and sustaining the baritone's high E and F in a popular ballad. But the voice undergoes some sort of transfiguration under stress, and in music of gospel or blues character he can and does sing for measures on end in the high tenor range of A, B flat, B, C and even C sharp and D, sometimes in full voice, sometimes in an ecstatic head voice, sometimes in falsetto. In falsetto he continues up to E and F above high C. On one extraordinary record, 'I'm Going Down to the River'...he hits an incredible B flat...giving him an overall range, including the falsetto extension, of at least three octaves."
His style and success in the genres of rhythm and blues and jazz had an influence on a number of highly successful artists, including, as Jon Pareles has noted, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, and Billy Joel.Other singers who have acknowledged Charles' influence on their own styles include James Booker, Steve Winwood, Richard Manuel, and Gregg Allman. According to Joe Levy, a music editor for Rolling Stone, "The hit records he made for Atlantic in the mid-1950s mapped out everything that would happen to rock 'n' roll and soul music in the years that followed". Charles was also an inspiration to Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, who told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet : "I was about 15. In the middle of the night with friends, we were listening to jazz. It was "Georgia on My Mind", Ray Charles's version. Then I thought 'One day, if I make some people feel only one-twentieth of what I am feeling now, it will be quite enough for me.'"
Ray , a biopic portraying his life and career between the mid-1930s and 1979, was released in October 2004, starring Jamie Foxx as Charles. Foxx won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor for the role.
In 1975, Ray Charles was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement and presented with the Golden Plate Award and the Academy of Achievement gold medal.
In 1979, Charles was one of the first musicians born in the state to be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.His version of "Georgia on My Mind" was also made the official state song of Georgia.
In 1981, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony, in 1986.He also received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986.
Charles won 17 Grammy Awards from his 37 nominations.In 1987, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1991, he was inducted to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and was presented with the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement during the 1991 UCLA Spring Sing.
In 1990, he was given an honorary doctorate of fine arts by the University of South Florida.
In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.In 1998 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize, together with Ravi Shankar, in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2004 he was inducted to the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame. The Grammy Awards of 2005 were dedicated to Charles.
In 2001, Morehouse College honored Charles with the Candle Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Entertainment,and later that same year granted him an honorary doctor of humane letters. Charles donated $2 million to Morehouse "to fund, educate and inspire the next generation of musical pioneers."
In 2003, Charles was awarded an honorary degree by Dillard University, and upon his death he endowed a professorship of African-American culinary history at the school, the first such chair in the nation.
In 2010, a $20 million, 76,000 sq ft (7,100 m2) facility named the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building, opened at Morehouse.
The United States Postal Service issued a forever stamp honoring Charles, as part of its Musical Icons series, on September 23, 2013.
In 2015, Charles was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.
In 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "Ray Charles's version of "America the Beautiful" will always be in my view the most patriotic piece of music ever performed"
On March 15, 1961, shortly after the release of the hit song "Georgia on My Mind" (1960), the Albany, Georgia-born musician was scheduled to perform at a dance at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, but cancelled the show after learning from students of Paine College that the larger auditorium dance floor would be restricted to whites, while blacks would be obligated to sit in the Music Hall balcony. Charles left town immediately after letting the public know why he wouldn't be performing, but the promoter went on to sue Charles for breach of contract, and Charles was fined $757 in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on June 14, 1962. The following year, Charles did perform at a desegregated Bell Auditorium concert together with his backup group the Raelettes on October 23, 1963,as depicted in the 2004 film, Ray . On December 7, 2007, Ray Charles Plaza was opened in Albany, Georgia, with a revolving, lighted bronze sculpture of Charles seated at a piano.
Founded in 1986, the Ray Charles Foundation maintains the mission statement of financially supporting institutions and organizations in the research of hearing disorders.Originally known as The Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders, it was renamed in 2006 and has provided financial donations to numerous institutions involved in hearing loss research and education. The purpose of the foundation has been "to administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes; to encourage, promote and educate, through grants to institutions and organizations, as to the causes and cures for diseases and disabilities of the hearing impaired and to assist organizations and institutions in their social educational and academic advancement of programs for the youth, and carry on other charitable and educational activities associated with these goals as allowed by law".
Recipients of donations include Benedict College, Morehouse College, and other universities.The foundation has taken action against donation recipients who do not use funds in accordance with its mission statement, such as the Albany State University, which was made to return a $3 million donation after not using the funds for over a decade. The foundation houses its executive offices at the historic RPM International Building, originally the home of Ray Charles Enterprises and now also home to the Ray Charles Memorial Library on the first floor, which was founded on September 23, 2010 (what would have been his 80th birthday). The library was founded to "provide an avenue for young children to experience music and art in a way that will inspire their creativity and imagination", and is not open to the public without reservation, as the main goal is to educate mass groups of underprivileged youth and provide art and history to those without access to such documents.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Ray Charles among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Charles stated in his 1978 autobiography, Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story, that he became hooked on women after losing his virginity at 12 years old to a woman about 20. "Cigarettes and smack [heroin] are the two truly addictive habits I've known. You might add women," he said. "My obsession centers on women—did then [when young] and does now. I can't leave them alone," he added.
Charles was married twice. His first marriage was less than a year, his second 22 years. Throughout his life Charles had many relationships with women with whom he fathered a dozen children.
His marriage to Eileen Williams lasted from July 31, 1951 until 1952.
He met his second wife Della Beatrice Howard Robinson (called "Bea" by Charles) in Texas in 1954. They married the following year on April 5, 1955. Their first child together, Ray Jr., was born in 1955. Charles was not in town for the birth because he was playing a show in Texas. The couple had two more sons, David and Robert. They raised their children in View Park, California.Charles felt that his heroin addiction took a toll on Della during their marriage. Due to his drug addiction, extramarital affairs on tours and volatile behavior, the marriage deteriorated and they divorced after 22 years of marriage in 1977.
Charles had a six-year-long affair with Margie Hendricks, one of the original Raelettes, and in 1959 they had a son, Charles Wayne. His affair with Mae Mosley Lyles resulted in another daughter, Renee, born in 1961. In 1963, by Sandra Jean Betts, Ray Charles had a daughter, Sheila Raye Charles, a singer and songwriter who died of breast cancer on June 15, 2017.In 1977, Charles had a child with his Parisian lover Arlette Kotchounian whom he met in 1967. His long-term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.
Charles fathered a total of 12 children with ten different women:
Charles held a family luncheon for his twelve children in 2002, ten of whom attended. He told them he was mortally ill and $500,000 had been placed in trusts for each of the children to be paid out over the next five years.
At 18, Charles first tried marijuana when he played in McSon Trio and was eager to try it as he thought it helped musicians create music and tap into their creativity. He later became addicted to heroin for seventeen years.Charles was first arrested in 1955, when he and his bandmates were caught backstage with loose marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a burnt spoon, syringe, and needle. The arrest did not deter his drug use, which only escalated as he became more successful and made more money.
In 1958, Charles was arrested on a Harlem street corner for possession of narcotics and equipment for administering heroin.
Charles was arrested on a narcotics charge on November 14, 1961, while waiting in an Indiana hotel room before a performance. The detectives seized heroin, marijuana, and other items.Charles, then 31, said he had been a drug addict since the age of 16. The case was dismissed because of the manner in which the evidence was obtained, but Charles's situation did not improve until a few years later.
On Halloween 1964, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin at Boston's Logan Airport.He decided to quit heroin and entered St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, where he endured four days of cold turkey withdrawal. Following his self-imposed stay, he pleaded guilty to four narcotic charges. Prosecutors called for two years in prison and a hefty fine, but the judge listened to Dr. Hacker's account of Charles' determination to get off drugs and he was sent to McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. The judge offered to postpone the verdict for a year if Charles agreed to undergo regular examinations by government-appointed physicians. When Charles returned to court, he received a five-year suspended sentence, four years of probation, and a fine of $10,000.
Charles responded to the saga of his drug use and reform with the songs "I Don't Need No Doctor", "Let's Go Get Stoned", and the release of Crying Time, his first album since having kicked his heroin addiction in 1966.
Charles enjoyed playing chess. A part of his therapy when he quit heroin, he met with psychiatrist Dr. Friedrich Hacker (de), who taught him how to play chess, three times a week.He used a special board with raised squares and holes for the pieces. When questioned if people try to cheat against a blind man, he joked in reply, "You can't cheat in Chess... I'm gonna see that!" In a 1991 concert, he referred to Willie Nelson as "my chess partner". In 2002, he played and lost to the American grandmaster and former U.S. champion Larry Evans.
In 2003, Charles had successful hip replacement surgery and was planning to go back on tour, until he began suffering from other ailments. He died at his home in Beverly Hills, California of complications resulting from liver failure,on June 10, 2004, at the age of 73. His funeral took place on June 18, 2004, at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles with numerous musical figures in attendance. B.B. King, Glen Campbell, Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis each played a tribute at the funeral. He was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery.
His final album, Genius Loves Company , released two months after his death, consists of duets with 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 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 and E. Y. Harburg's "Over the Rainbow", sung as a duet with Johnny Mathis, which was played at Charles' memorial service.
Some of his well known songs are:
|1965||Ballad in Blue||Himself|
|1966||The Big T.N.T. Show||Himself||Documentary film|
|1980||The Blues Brothers||Ray||Cameo appearance|
|1990||Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones||Himself||Documentary|
|1994||Love Affair||Himself||Cameo appearance|
|1996||Spy Hard||Bus Driver||Cameo appearance|
|1998||New Yorkers 2||Himself||Cameo appearance|
|2000||The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave||Himself|
|2000||Blue's Big Musical Movie||G-Clef (voice)||Final film role before his death in 2004|
|1977||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host)||Season 3, Episode 5|
|1987||Who's the Boss||Himself||Episode: "Hit the Road, Chad"|
|1987||St. Elsewhere||Arthur Tibbits||Episode: "Jose, Can You See?"|
|1987||Moonlighting||Himself||Episode: "A Trip to the Moon"|
|1994||Ray Alexander: A Taste for Justice||Television movie|
|1994||Wings||Himself||Episode: "A Decent Proposal"|
|1997–1998||The Nanny||Sammy||4 episodes|
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin's career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as "I Never Loved a Man ," "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain of Fools," "Think," and "I Say a Little Prayer" propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the "Queen of Soul."
Stevland Hardaway Morris, known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music during the second half of the 20th century, Wonder is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians. A virtual one-man band, his use of synthesizers and further electronic musical instruments during the 1970s reshaped the conventions of R&B. He also helped drive the genre into the album era, crafting his LPs as cohesive, consistent socially conscious statements with complex compositions. Wonder is often hailed as a "genius", and has been credited as a pioneer and influence to musicians of various genres including rhythm and blues, pop, soul, gospel, funk, and jazz.
Jamesetta Hawkins, known professionally as Etta James, was an American singer who performed in various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as "The Wallflower", "At Last", "Tell Mama", "Something's Got a Hold on Me", and "I'd Rather Go Blind". She faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.
The Raelettes were an American girl group formed in 1958 to provide backing vocals for Ray Charles. They were reformed from the group The Cookies. Between 1966 and 1973, the Raelettes recorded on Tangerine Records as a separate act produced and accompanied by Charles.
Joe South was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. Best known for his songwriting, South won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1970 for "Games People Play" and was again nominated for the award in 1972 for "Rose Garden".
Natalie Maria Cole was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Cole was the daughter of American singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole. She rose to success in the mid-1970s as an R&B singer with the hits "This Will Be", "Inseparable" (1975), and "Our Love" (1977). She returned as a pop singer on the 1987 album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". In the 1990s, she sang traditional pop by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and won her seven Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Ray is a 2004 American biographical musical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was co-produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and written by James L. White from a story by Hackford and White. It stars Jamie Foxx in the title role, along with Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Terrence Howard, Larenz Tate, Richard Schiff and Regina King in supporting roles. Along with Hackford, the film was also produced by Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin and Karen Baldwin.
Raphael Saadiq is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He rose to fame as a member of the multiplatinum group Tony! Toni! Toné! In addition to his solo and group career, he has also produced songs for such artists as Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, Joss Stone, D'Angelo, TLC, En Vogue, Kelis, Mary J. Blige, Ledisi, Whitney Houston, Solange Knowles and John Legend. Music critic Robert Christgau has called Saadiq the "preeminent R&B artist of the '90s".
"What'd I Say" is an American rhythm and blues song by Ray Charles, released in 1959. As a single divided into two parts, it was one of the first soul songs. The composition was improvised one evening late in 1958 when Charles, his orchestra, and backup singers had played their entire set list at a show and still had time left; the response from many audiences was so enthusiastic that Charles announced to his producer that he was going to record it.
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American singer and pianist Ray Charles. It was recorded in February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and United Recording Studios in Hollywood, and released in April of that year by ABC-Paramount Records.
Maurice White was an American singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer. He was the founder, leader, main songwriter, and producer of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, and served as the band's co-lead singer with Philip Bailey. Described as a "visionary" by Vibe and a "mastermind" by Variety, White was nominated for a total of 22 Grammys, of which he won seven. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and was also inducted individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He additionally worked with artists such as Deniece Williams, Cher, the Emotions, Barbra Streisand, Ramsey Lewis, and Neil Diamond.
David Ritz is an American author. He has written novels, biographies, magazine articles, and over a hundred liner notes for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Nat King Cole. He has coauthored 36 autobiographies, including some celebrities’ autobiographies.
David "Fathead" Newman was an American jazz and rhythm-and-blues saxophonist who made numerous recordings as a session musician and leader, but is best known for his work as a sideman on seminal 1950s and early 1960s recordings by Ray Charles.
"Night Time Is the Right Time" or "The Right Time" is a rhythm and blues song recorded by American musician Nappy Brown in 1957. It draws on earlier blues songs and has inspired many subsequent versions, including hits by Ray Charles, Rufus and Carla, and James Brown.
This is a discography of American musician Ray Charles.
"I Never Loved a Man " is a 1967 single released by American soul singer Aretha Franklin. Released on Atlantic Records, as the first big hit of her career, it became a defining song for Franklin, peaking at number one on the rhythm and blues charts and number nine on the pop charts. The B-side was "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man". Before this Franklin had placed only two Top 40 singles on the pop chart during her modest tenure with Columbia Records.
"Drown in My Own Tears", originally credited as "I'll Drown in My Tears", is a song written by Henry Glover. It is best known in the version released as a single in 1956 by Ray Charles on the Atlantic record label.
"Crying Time" is a song from 1964 written and originally recorded by the American country music artist Buck Owens. It gained greater success in the version recorded by Ray Charles, which won two Grammy Awards in 1967. Numerous other cover versions have been performed and recorded over the intervening years.
Clarence "Mac" McDonald is a Los Angeles-based American pianist, composer, arranger, and producer. McDonald is known for his musical diversity, enduring melodies and signature groove. His most famous composition is Silly sung by Deniece Williams in 1981 and Taral Hicks in 1997. In 2010, the song instrumental intro and bridge were sampled in Monica's seven week-long Billboard No. 1 R&B Grammy nominated song "Everything To Me". He has worked with a long list of entertainment icons including Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Justin Timberlake, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Carole King, Taral Hicks, Freddy Hubbard, Nancy Wilson, Boz Scaggs, Seals & Crofts, Bill Withers, and the Jackson 5. McDonald performed on the all-star benefit album Jazz For Japan, released in September 2011.
Marjorie "Margie" Hendrix was an American rhythm and blues singer and founding member of the Raelettes, who were the backing singers for Ray Charles, the father of her child, Charles Wayne Hendrix.
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