Ray Charles Video Museum

Mediagraphy - Discography - Trackography - Videography - Gigography - Biography - Chronology

10 June 2014

"So goodbye, old sweethearts and pals"


Untitled, wordless blues, performed at the Olympia Theater in Paris on 18 May 1962.
Ray Charles - p, voc; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Bruno Carr - drums.

First released in 2013 by Body & Soul as part of the album Ray Charles - Live In Paris; Volume 2. Cartoon by Mike Peters.

06 June 2014

Rare footage of the Ray Charles Band in 1988

On June 23d, 1988 the Ray Charles Group played a private concert at CNIT La Défense, in Puteaux. To announce another - public - concert (on June 30, at the Palais des Sports in Paris), TF-2 broadcast a small reportage by Yoba Grégoire, on the 24th.

Ray Charles At La Salle Pleyel In Paris (1970)

 On 1, 2 and 4 October 1970  Ray Charles gave a total of six concerts at La Salle Pleyel in Paris.* Audio recordings of two shows have survived (see below). A third concert was the subject of a 4m15s news item by Gérard Duclos, broadcast by TF 1 on 3 October, covering Ray's preparations for his walk-on (while the band played Sidewinder), a few interview fragments, plus a (partial, but quite good) performance of I've Got A Woman:

Of the late show on October 1, broadcast by radio station Europe-1, the after-intermission part has survived:
  1. Tears Inside (With Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  3. Yours
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  6. The Sun Died
  7. I've Got A Woman
  8. Going Down Slow
  9. Introduction Raelettes (with a few notes of Booty Butt)
  10. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
  11. Show Me The Sunshine
  12. Eleanor Rigby
  13. Indian Love Call (ft Susaye Greene)
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Finale
It's a bit suspect that I Can't Stop Loving You is not on this list; it may have been edited out by Europe-1. Show Me The Sunshine (#11) got an okay, somewhat de-countryfied, treatment. So far, I only knew the song from the 1970 album Love Country Style.
But the real spice was at the beginning. Ray and the Orchestra performed a splendid, up tempo version of Tears Inside (#1) with an amazing trumpet battle between (at least, that's how it sounds to me) Blue Mitchell and Johnny Coles. This is first known recording of this Ornette Coleman composition by the Ray Charles band**.
Except for this tune (and maybe also for a little more than a minute of the Finale, where Brother Ray rendered some amazing falsetto scattin' &  whoopin'), the concert was a rather uninspired routine performance.

There's also an incomplete copy of the 7:30 p.m.-show on the 2nd (also aired by Europe-1):
  1. Doot Doot Dow (with Ray Charles Orchestra) (solo Ray Charles - as)
  2. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  3. Yours
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Marie
  6. The Sun Died
  7. I've Got A Woman
  8. Yesterday
  9. Booty Butt (fragment) (with Ray Charles Orchestra)
  10. Intro Raelettes
  11. My Bonnie (solo Andy Ennis - ts)
  12. Don't Change On Me
  13. I Can't Stop Loving You (partial)
  14. ... [What'd I Say surely missing]
For a big part of the concert the orchestra sounded as if everyone was in a hurry. On a few tunes the sound of the band was dominated by the "Staxy" Hammond sounds of Truman Thomas.

Georgia (#4) was rendered in the old 'flute arrangement'. The version of Yours (#3), from the I'm All Yours album (1968), is the earliest known live performance of this tune.
The Genius took all time necessary for a magnificent rendition of The Sun Died (#6). Just as in the audio embedded above, Truman's organ playing provoked Charles to give I've Got A Woman (#7) an original, fast and driven, performance; in this version he even sang in an 'unknown tongue' at the end of the tune.
Regrettably, Ray decided to interrupt the instrumental Booty Butt (#9, a contemporary hit single in the U.S.) soon after the intro.

Musicians: Johnny Coles, Bill King, Blue Mitchell - trumpets; Glenn Childress, Henry Coker, Fred Murrell, Joe Randazzo - trombones; Jay Cloyd Miller, Curtis Peagler - alto saxophones; Andy Ennis, David Newman - tenor saxophones; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone, band leader; Ernie Elly - drums; Ben Martin - guitar; Edgar Willis- bass; Truman Thomas - organ. The Raelettes: Susaye Greene, Mable John, Vernita Moss, Estella Yarbrough.

*This post replaces two earlier articles on the radio-broadcast concerts. **The tune was also recorded the next year at two concerts in Paris, and one in Torino.

11 April 2014

Johnny Farnham And Ray Charles At The Crown Casino (1997)

Australian pop singer John Farnham (a.k.a. 'Jack') has always had  a healthy taste for the more pompous soul classics (and for comebacks). On May 8th, 1997 he performed at the opening of the Crown Casino in Melbourne. At the same occasion the venue also dedicated a bar ('Jack's Bar') to John. I guess that Ray Charles guested on this same night.
Two songs (from a house video recording?) were submitted to YouTube, but there may be more.

Backing vocals: Lindsay Field, Joe Creighton and Lisa Edwards.


I Can't Stop Loving You (also with Kylie Minogue and Anthony Warlow):

10 April 2014

Potential youth delinquents dancing to Ray Charles' What'd I Say (1961)

Potential youth delinquents in San Francisco, dancing to What'd I Say, in Ask Me, Don't Tell Me, a 'PSA' produced for Youth For Service (1961):

02 April 2014

Ray Charles Attending A Count Basie Concert In Juan-Les-Pins (1961)

Listening to Basie,
with gf Raita Johnson.
Photo by J.-P. Leloir.
For the history of contemporary music, INA, the media archive of the public French broadcasting organization, is an unsurpassed treasure trove. A diamond in their collection is the set of Ray Charles' concerts in Antibes (Juan-les-Pins) in 1961.
These concerts are known from film footage produced and directed by Jean-Christophe Averty, broadcast by French TV in 1961 and 1962, around 2008 released on an illegal DVD, entitled Jazz à Juan, with mediocre video and sound quality, and on a more recent, legit DVD, Ray Charles Live In France 1961 (Eagle Vision DVD EREDV904) with a considerably better video quality and a much better audio which originated from recordings that were simultaneously produced for the French radio organization ORTF.
To add to the confusion, INA has recently published a generous portion of tracks (without applying any obvious selection criteria), edited from the film footage, with excellent video quality (including the original audience shots, and the orginal 'couleur local' shots) and a soundtrack with an acceptable quality from the orginal film's soundtrack.
You can enjoy the clips here (warning: slow buffering of the media streams!).

In Antibes Ray shared the bill with Count Basie and his Orchestra. From a photo series shot by Jean-Pierre Leloir I already knew that Ray attended one of Basie's concerts. Therefore I was happy to spot a (nervous-looking) Genius in the audience in yet another clip that was recently made public by Ina, with a version of Smack Dab In The Middle, performed by the Basie band, featuring Ossie Smith.

Count Basie Orchestra, ft. Ossie Smith - Smack Dab In The Middle (Ray briefly appears at 1:15):

Ray & Raita in Antibes, maybe
at the same concert.
Photo by J.-P. Leloir.
This little sequence with Ray may even have been shot during another part of the concert. (Probably unrelated, Ray himself released the song in June 1964, on the album Have A Smile With Me; ABC 495).

Ina has also published an interview (by André Francis) of Jacques Benoit Levy, the promoter of the 2nd Jazz à Juan festival, which was aired on June 1, 1961 (about 6 weeks before the event). Levy announced that Ray had just confirmed his participation in the festival, after cancelling a few assignments in the U.S. (when they started negotiating 5 months before, Ray didn't have one single gap in his booking schedule), bringing a "grand formation" with "8 [sic!] musiciens et 4 chanteuses", and confirming that Ray would sing, play piano and organ [sic!], ...and alto.

For various remaining Ina footage from the 1961 Antibes festival - with performances by the Count Basie Orchestra and Rosetta Tharpe - check this.

26 February 2014

Ray Charles In Paris (1963)

From 22 to 28 May 1963 Ray Charles was back at the Olympia Theater for a new series of concerts*. For all seven days the venue was totally sold out. "Members of the Hot Club de France distributed pink fliers at the theater hailing Mr. Charles as a true jazz artist in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington," the New York Times' Paris correspondent reported on 24 May.

Band leader and trumpet player Wallace
Davenport, Ray Charles, and Vic Ash. 
David Fathead Newman was missing in the Orchestra's line-up. He had been arrested for drug possession a few days before by the British police. Later that week he joined the group again in Paris, but he didn't make it to the concerts because his place in the band was already taken by an English sub on tenor saxophone: Vic Ash, the first white cat ever to play in Ray's band (don't miss his autobiography, I Blew It My Way).
Phil Guilbeau, on trumpet of course, had to fill in Fathead's flute parts on Georgia On My Mind.

Some TV footage of the 1963 French tour has survived; see this.

One or more of the concerts were aired by Europe 1. One or more broadcasts were captured on tape. As it looks now, the following tunes have survived (in poor to reasonably fair quality):
  1. Flying Home (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Unidentified instrumental (alto solo by Ray Charles)
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Margie
  5. You Don't Know Me
  6. Hide Nor Hair
  7. In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
  8. Marie
  9. Careless Love
  10. Don't Set Me Free (ft. Margie Hendricks)
  11. My Bonnie
  12. Georgia On My Mind (Phil Guilbeau - tp)
  13. Just A Little Lovin'
  14. Unchain My Heart
  15. My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do) (ft. Margie Hendricks)
  16. Hit The Road Jack
  17. You Are My Sunshine
In this case the numbers, of course, do not represent any setlist order. Flying Home (#1) is the tune written by Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman and Eddie DeLange; this is the only known live version by the Ray Charles band. Tune #2 is the same unidentified composition as known from the 1963 O Gênio concerts in São Paulo (i.e. #15 in this article).
As I write this, #7 (a splendid 9-minute long In The Evening), #10 (Don't Set Me Free), and #17 (You Are My Sunshine) are the earliest known recorded live versions of these songs.

The band in Paris, 1963.
Read this for the story behind this photo.
Musicians: Wallace Davenport (band leader), Oliver Beener, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - trumpets; Henderson Chambers, James Lee Harbert, Keg Johnson, Julian Priester - trombones; Hank Crawford, Buddy Pearson - alto saxophones); Vic Ash, James Clay - tenor saxophones; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Wilbert Hogan - drums; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass. The Raelettes: Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks, Pat Moseley Lyles, Darlene McCrea.

*Special thanks to Joël Dufour for many details in this article.

25 February 2014

Ray Charles Band Augmented By Moscow Symphony Ork (2000)

The band with a string section
at the Hollywood Bowl in '61
(from a '62 concert souvenir brochure,
 photo by Howard Morehead;
coll. T. Sunseri).
On September 10, 1961 Ray Charles played with an 'extra-augmented' orchestra (57 musicians, including strings) and The Raelettes at the Hollywood Bowl, at a special "Salute To Genius" concert.

Unfortunately, nothing of this show was recorded.

But almost 40 years later, on 30 October 2000, the Ray Charles Orchestra performed in a sold-out Moscow concert hall - together with a local symphony orchestra. The combination was  conducted by drummer Peter Turre.

An "energetic and vivacious Charles, 70, enthralled the crowd," Russian television station RTR reported.

RTR's Channel 1 aired the show. A VHS-copy of this program has survived:
  1. Intro
  2. Busted
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Let's Get Away From It All
  5. If You Go Away
  6. Almost Like Being In Love Again
  7. Hey Girl
  8. Blues For Big Scotia
  9. A Song For You
  10. All I Ever Need Is You
  11. Intro Raelettes
  12. Hit The Road Jack
  13. I Can't Stop Loving You
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Outro

19 February 2014

Ray Charles Sings Ring Of Fire At Opening Of New Ole Opry (1974)

Video still.
In 1974 the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Theatre in downtown Nashville to the new Grand Ole Opry House, several miles to the east of the city.
To carry on the tradition of the Ryman, a six-foot circle of oak was cut from the center of the old theater's stage and inlaid into center stage at the new venue.
Exactly at that spot, most probably on or around opening night (March 16), but without any audience present, Ray Charles was filmed performing Ring Of Fire. He sang and played piano live, probably using a specially produced orchestra tape, enriched with some prominent slide guitar.
The clip possibly was part of the opening show, where - God forbid, as this source stated it - also "sitting U.S. President Richard Nixon [...] played a few songs on the piano".

31 January 2014

Ray Charles Live In Maribor (1996)

In July 1996 the Ray Charles band played at the Lent Festival in Maribor, Slovenia. (Barbara Morrison opened the show with the Orchestra).
The concert was recorded for SLO1, the first net of Radiotelevizija Slovenija (presented by Eva Stavbar, directed by Petar Radović). I've seen a reasonably good video copy with the following selection:
  1. Intro Ray Charles
  2. Busted
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  5. Just For A Thrill
  6. Angelina
  7. Blues For Big Scotia
  8. A Song For You
  9. Intro Raelettes (by RC)
  10. Knock On Wood
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You
  12. What'd I Say (with intro: I'm Gonna Keep Singin')
  13. Outro
Ted Murdock, Chuck Parrish, John Bailey, Kenny Scharf - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Sarah Morrow, Jason Jackson - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson (bandleader), Al Waters, Rudy Johnson, and Jim Farnsworth - saxophones; Kenny Carr - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Ernest Vantrease - Hammond organ; Peter Turre - drums. The Raelettes: Estella Yarbrough, Karen Evans, Cathy Mackey, Katrina Harper-Cooke (?), Tonette McKinney.