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11 April 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In The Merv Griffin Show (1968, 1969, 1971, 1975, 1993)

Clipping from Jet, 14 August 1975.
Merv Griffin became a television host after filling in for Jack Parr on the Tonight Show in 1962.
The Merv Griffin Show ran from 1962 to 1986. It first aired on NBC (1962-1963, then again 1965-1968), then on CBS (1969-1972), and in syndication afterwards. Later he produced and hosted a.o. his New year's Eve Specials. Ray appeared at least five times.
Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, during a 
rehearsal,probably for the 1971 episode of the show.
  • 1968 (Season 6, episode 10, 13 September): guests were Ray Charles, actor Mickey Shaughnessy, singer-actor Rudy Vallee, entertainer Genevieve, comic Milt Kamen, columnist Doris Lilly and comedy duo Clair and McMahon with Frank Gallop. I've listened to an audio recording, probably taken from this same show (it's labeled as a "syndicated telecast", taped at the Little Theater in New York, in September 1968), where Ray performs splendid versions of You Don't Know Me and Route 66, accompanied by Freddy Robinson - g; Edgar Willis - b; Roger Humphries - dm. Another singer (possibly Merv Griffin himself) contributed a few (opening) verses to the latter song.
  • 1969 (season 6, episode 72, 26 November 1969): guests are Ray Charles, Karen Morrow, comedienne Hermione Gingold and Dr. Joyce Brothers.
  • 1971 - Jack O'Brian in The Daily Sentinel of 13 September 1971 assessed that "The Merv Griffin show saluting the brilliant Quincy Jones [with Sarah Vaughn and Ray Charles doing What'd I Say] was one of the finest shows, prime time or not, of any season."
  • 1975 (season 12, Episode 1, 1 September 1975): Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles were co-hosts with Merv of The Third Annual Ebony Magazine Music Awards. Guests included: Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, and Quincy Jones.
  • On 31 December 1993 Ray Charles, Donna Summer, Tony Bennett, and Jack Sheldon formed the cast of the third edition of Merv Griffin's New Year's Eve Special, a live extravaganza format produced from the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Ray performed A Song For You, and (with The Raelettes) Smack Dab In The Middle. The Ray Charles Orchestra formed a "mass band" with Merv's house band, the Mort Lindsey Orchestra (including Byron Stripling). Donna Summer didn't want to participate in the finale, until Merv called her, "Come on out, Donna, Ray is waiting for you." The show was produced by MGE (Merv Griffin Enterprises) and syndicated nationally by Columbia Pictures Television. The line-up must have come close to this: Al Waters - tenor saxophone; Al Jackson - alto saxophone, band leader; Steve Elliot, Rudy Johnson, James Farnsworth - saxophone; David Hoffman, Larry Foyen, Kurt Weiss, Ken Scharf - trumpet; Michel Guerrier, Steve Sigmund, Marc Fields, Pete Beltran - trombone; Kenny Carr - guitar; Tom Fowler - bass; Peter Turre - drums, Ernest Vantrease - organ; The Raelettes (Angela Workman, Trudy Cohran, Michelle King, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough) - backing vocals.
A Song For You; Smack Dab In The Middle (1993):

The back catalog of Merv Griffin is now represented by Reelin' In The Years. As yet, it's unclear if any of the footage with Ray survived.

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