Raymond Louis Kennedy

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Raymond Louis "Ray" Kennedy (November 26, 1946 – February 16, 2014) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, based in Los Angeles. His works span multiple genres including R&B, pop, rock, jazz, fusion, acid rock, country and many others. He co-wrote "Sail On, Sailor", one of The Beach Boys' mid-career hits, [1] as well as two hits for The Babys: "Everytime I Think of You" and "Isn't It Time".



Born in Philadelphia, Kennedy began playing saxophone at age nine. He sang in a cappella groups in New Jersey and Philadelphia before becoming a dancing regular on American Bandstand in 1960. Dick Clark eventually offered to pay him to pantomime playing saxophone with artists such as The Platters, The Drifters, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and many more.

In 1965, Kennedy recorded his first single as vocalist with then-unknown Kenny Gamble, "Number 5 Gemini," on Guyden Records. That year, Kennedy also auditioned for and received a gig playing tenor sax with Gerry Mulligan, one of the top baritone jazz saxophonists in the world. That led to Kennedy leaving his home in New Jersey, playing various jazz clubs and making his way south.

With drummer Jay David, Kennedy eventually left the tour to play various gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Buddy Rich and the Gene Krupa Jazz Group, until he decided in 1962 that the lifestyle of a jazz musician was simply not for him.

Kennedy went to Paducah, Kentucky for a few performances with Brenda Lee; one-nighters with Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wilson Pickett, and many others followed. Encouraged by friend Otis Redding, Kennedy shifted his focus back to singing and moved to New York in 1963. He was signed by Ahmet Ertegun to Atlantic Records, recording as Jon and Ray and touring with Jon Mislan (aka Johnny Angel). In 1966, he formed another band named Group Therapy and recorded two albums, then moved to Los Angeles with them in 1968.

Kennedy's first solo album, Raymond Louis Kennedy, was released in 1970. That year, he befriended Dave Mason of Traffic and toured with him in support of Mason's solo album Alone Together . The pair collaborated on the song "Seasons," which would end up on the future Mason solo album Let It Flow . During this period, Kennedy also co-wrote the Beach Boys hit "Sail On, Sailor".

In 1974, Kennedy was featured on the soundtrack to the Brian DePalma cult film Phantom of the Paradise , singing "Life at Last" and a version of "The Phantom's Theme". In the movie, the former song was lip-synched by Gerrit Graham as the character Beef, who performed the song as a Frankenstein-type, flamboyant rocker, constructed by the members of The Undead during a Dr. Caligari-esque performance.

In 1980, Kennedy released a second, self-titled solo album, Ray Kennedy. This album featured the minor hit single "Just for the Moment", [2] which would become Kennedy's only Billboard Hot 100 hit under his own name.

In addition to this solo album, Kennedy spent the next several decades writing, recording and touring with Sly and the Family Stone, Brian Wilson, Dave Mason, Jeff Beck, Barry Goldberg, Maurice White, Aerosmith, Michael Schenker, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wayne Newton, Tanya Tucker, Bill Champlin, Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood and others.


1963Jon and RayJon and Ray Atlantic (unreleased)
1968People Get Ready for Group TherapyGroup Therapy RCA Victor
196937 Minutes of Group Therapy (aka You’re in Need of Group Therapy)Group Therapy Philips
1970Raymond Louis KennedyRay KennedyCream Records
1980Ray KennedyRay Kennedy ARC/Columbia

Singles/contributed tracks

YearSong TitleArtist/Album
1965"Number 5 Gemini"Ray Kennedy single
1973"Sail On, Sailor" The Beach Boys - Holland
1973"Why Should I Care?" Beck, Bogert & Appice - Beck, Bogert & Appice
1974"Life at Last" Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack
1974"The Phantom's Theme"Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack
1977"Seasons" Dave Mason - Let It Flow
1978"Isn't It Time" The Babys - Broken Heart
1978"Everytime I Think of You"The Babys - Head First
1980"Starlight"Ray Kennedy
1980"Just for the Moment"Ray Kennedy
1981"Tonight, Tonight" Bill Champlin - Runaway
1983"Badman" Uncommon Valor soundtrack
1983"Brothers in the Night"Uncommon Valor soundtrack
1995"These Strange Times" Fleetwood Mac - Time
2006"Sail On, Sailor" The Departed soundtrack

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  1. Gaines, Steven S. (1995). Heroes and villains: the true story of the Beach Boys. p. 256. ISBN   9780786751044 . Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  2. 1980 Year End (Lists the peak positions of all songs that charted in 1980) Retrieved 12-21-2014.