Happy Birthday, Ray Charles!

Ray Charles (Robinson) was a singer, pianist, composer who was born in Albany, Ga in 1930. He lost his sight (from glaucoma) when he was six and attended a school for the blind where he learned to read and write music in braille and play piano and organ.

Orphaned at age 15, he left school and began playing music to earn a living, moving to Seattle, Wash., in 1947. Dropping his last name, he performed at clubs in the smooth lounge-swing style of Nat “King” Cole.

After some hits on Swing Time Records, he switched to Atlantic Records in 1952 and began to develop a rougher blues and gospel style. For New Orleans bluesman, Guitar Slim, he arranged and played piano on “The Things I Used To Do” (1953); the record sold a million copies. He went on to record his own “I’ve Got a Woman” in 1955 with an arrangement of horns, gospel-style piano, and impassioned vocals that led to the gospel-pop and soul music of the 1960s and to his hit “What’d I Say” (1959).

Possessing a multifaceted talent, he recorded with jazz vibist Milt Jackson, made a country and western album that sold 3 million copies (1962), and continued to release a variety of pop hits, Broadway standards, and blues, gospel, and jazz albums. A major influence on popular black music during his early years, he gradually reached out to influence both white musicians and audiences. And although he had been convicted of using drugs in the 1950s, he lived to see the day when he was so acceptable to mainstream Americans that he became virtually the chief image for promoting Pepsi-Cola and he was asked to perform at many national patriotic and political events.

 

September 23 ~ in Music History

today

• 1870 ~ John Lomax, American folk-song collector and founder of the American Folklore Society at the Library of Congress

• 1923 ~ Jan Savitt and his orchestra recorded 720 in the Books on Decca Records.

• 1926 ~ John (William) Coltrane, American jazz tenor and soprano sax, composer

OCMS 1930 ~ Ray Charles, American soul singer, pianist and songwriter
More information about Charles

• 1935 ~ Les McCann, Singer

• 1940 ~ Paul Williams, Academy Award-winning songwriter

• 1943 ~ Steve Boone, Bass, singer with The Lovin’ Spoonful

• 1943 ~ Julio Iglesias, Singer, Guinness Book of Records for sales of more than 100 million copies of 60 LPs in five languages

• 1945 ~ Ronald Bushy, Drummer with Iron Butterfly

• 1949 ~ Bruce Springsteen ‘The Boss’, American rock singer and songwriter, inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999

• 1959 ~ Lita Ford, Guitarist with The Runaways

• 1967 ~ The Box Tops from Memphis hit #1 with The Letter. Though the song was #1 for four weeks and remained on the charts for 13 weeks. The Box Tops reorganized right after that first hit and never made it to #1 again.

• 1969 ~ The London Daily Mirror became a rumormonger. It printed a story saying that Beatle Paul McCartney was dead. It was the first, but not the last, time that rumor would make the rounds.

• 1971 ~ The Honey Cone scored their second gold record with Stick-Up on the Hot Wax label. It was a follow~up to their #1 smash, Want Ads on June 12, 1971.

• 1987 ~ Bob Fosse passed away. He was an American dancer, musical theatre choreographer, director, screenwriter, film director and actor.

• 2003 ~ Rex Robbins, a Broadway actor who traveled nationally with “Gypsy,” “Hello Dolly!” and “Into the Woods,” died of a subdural aneurysm while visiting relatives. He was 68. Robbins, who lived in Manhattan, had roles in 18 Broadway shows between 1963 and 2000, including Herbie in the 1974 revival of “Gypsy” with Angela Lansbury and Buckingham in “Richard II” with Al Pacino in 1979. He also appeared in films including the original “Shaft,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “1776,” and was in more than 300 television commercials.

• 2006 ~ Sir Malcolm Arnold, English composer and professional trumpeter died. His output of works features music in many genres, including a cycle of nine symphonies, numerous concertos, concert works, chamber music, choral music and music for brass band and wind band. He wrote extensively for the theatre, with five ballets specially commissioned by the Royal Ballet, as well as two operas and a musical. He also produced scores for more than a hundred films, among these The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won an Oscar.