Number 518 - Ray Charles
"Hit The Road jack"
Genre:R&B 23.09.30 to 10.06.04
Born, l i f e & Death. The first and last words are the easiest part of actual existence which in a way seems ironic as it is usually the most painful. Ray Charles epitomises the middle part. Life. Ray Charles had been blind since 7 years old & never once did he let blindness stop his potential for greatness.
Personally, i don't know if he had a great life but he did create enduring music that will last for centuries and who knows, maybe even longer. Ray is Number 10 in Rolling Stone Magazine 100 Immortal Artists of all time as voted by their peers (i call them understudies). Whatever the case that is a pretty high honour considering ranked above Ray is the likes of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Little Richard & Aretha Franklin.
art by idprime
Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. By the late '40s, he was recording in a smooth pop/R&B style derivative of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles' first recordings came in for their fair share of criticism, as they were much milder and less original than the classics that would follow, although they're actually fairly enjoyable, showing strong hints of the skills that were to flower in a few years.
One of the chief attractions of the ABC deal for Charles was a much greater degree of artistic control of his recordings. He put it to good use on early-'60s hits like "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road Jack," which solidified his pop stardom with only a modicum of polish attached to the R&B he had perfected at Atlantic. In 1962, he surprised the pop world by turning his attention to country & western music, topping the charts with the "I Can't Stop Loving You" single, and making a hugely popular album (in an era in which R&B/soul LPs rarely scored high on the charts) with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising; Charles had always been eclectic, recording quite a bit of straight jazz at Atlantic, with noted jazz musicians like David "Fathead" Newman and Milt Jackson.
One approaches sweeping criticism of Charles with hesitation; he was an American institution, after all, and his vocal powers barely diminished over his half-century career. The fact remains, though, that his work after the late '60s on record was very disappointing. Millions of listeners yearned for a return to the all-out soul of his 1955-1965 classics, but Charles had actually never been committed to soul above all else. Like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, his focus was more upon all-around pop than many realize; his love of jazz, country, and pop standards was evident, even if his more earthy offerings were the ones that truly broke ground and will stand the test of time. He dented the charts (sometimes the country ones) occasionally, and commanded devoted international concert audiences whenever he felt like it. For good or ill, he ensured his imprint upon the American mass consciousness in the 1990s by singing several ads for Diet Pepsi. He also recorded three albums during the '90s for Warner Bros., but remained most popular as a concert draw. In 2002, he released Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again on his own Crossover imprint, and the following year began recording an album of duets featuring B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, and James Taylor. After hip replacement surgery in 2003, he scheduled a tour for the following summer, but was forced to cancel an appearance in March 2004. Three months later, on June 10, 2004, Ray Charles succumbed to liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. ~ [Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide]
Roll call .....
For the Beatles see Number 947, 894 & 587
For Bob Dylan see Number 929 & Number 841
For Elvis Presley see Number 840
For Rolling Stones see Number 767 & Number 689
For Chuck Berry see Number 783
For James Brown see Number 741
For Aretha Franklin see Number 563
For Joe Cocker see Number 633
For Steve Winwood see Number 622
For Willie Nelson see Number 664
For Michael McDonald see Number 868
For James Taylor see Number 820
What does Rolling Stone think about Ray Charles?
The title "genius" was formally bestowed on Ray Charles with the release of his 1959 album The Genius of Ray Charles. Though he was not yet thirty at that point, Charles had already helped invent what would become known as soul -- shattering the boundaries between sacred and secular music in the process -- and invigorated an entire generation of jazz players. He also, somewhat reluctantly, had proved a major force in the early days of rock & roll -- and all this after a childhood as a blind, impoverished African-American in the brutally segregated South.
Throughout his career, Charles was active in a range of political and humanitarian causes. He provided financial support for the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement; he was also a staunch supporter of Israel. In 1984 he performed his version of “America the Beautiful” at the Republican National Convention. Three years later, he formed the (Ray Charles) Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders, with a $1 million personal endowment. On June 10th, 2004 Ray Charles passed away from liver disease two months before the release of his final album Genuis Loves Company. ~ [from The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001)]
Labels: Ray Charles