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06 April 2010

Ray Charles On Saturday Night Live (1977)

Phil Gilbeau, Marcus Belgrave, Hank Crawford,
David Newman, Leroy Cooper. 
Ray hosted episode 051 (aka season 3, episode 5) of Saturday Night Live, which aired on 12 November 1977 on NBC, directed by Dave Wilson. Sketches included Don Corleone, A Message From the President of the United States, Mamorex, Howdy Doody's Widow, Tomorrow, The Young Caucasians, a performance by Franklyn Ajaye, Evelyn Woodski Slow Reading Course, Blackout Burglary, and Mr. Mike's Painting. Transcripts of sketches can be found here.
Played by Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Laraine Newman, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Lorne Michaels.

This SNL episode was a reunion of Ray's "small big band", with Phil Guilbeau, Marcus Belgrave, Hank Crawford, David Newman, and Leroy Cooper.

Ray also brought the rhythm section of his orchestra (Steve Beskrone played bass, Gregg Field was on drums, the guitar player's name is unkown [but Beskrone remembered his nickname as Hound Dog]).
Paul Shaffer, Howard Johnson, Lou Marini, Alan Rubin, Steve Jordan (and unknown others) were in the SNL band at the time.*
The Raelettes were (from left to right on the screen): Trudy Cohran, Dorothy Berry, Deborah Gleese, Linda Sims, and Estella Yarbrough**.

Ray and his oldtime sidemen played an extremely sharp medley (Ray on sax on The Story) with:
  • I've Got A Woman
  • I Believe To My Soul
  • Them That Got
  • Hit The Road Jack
  • Backstage at SNL.
  • The Story
Ray Charles performed:
  • I Can See Clearly Now
  • What'd I Say
  • I Believe To My Soul
  • Hit The Road Jack
  • Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  • I Can't Stop Loving You.
At the end of the show Ray and the SNL group improvised a 1-minute outro, singing the show's title.

DVD Box set: Universal Studios, 13 March 2011, ASIN: B0013LRKQC.
The episode was also released on VHS by Warner Home Video (UPC: 085392902132; Aug 23, 1989).

*Information kindly provided by Steve Beskrone. **Information, based on Estella's memories, kindly provided by Joël Dufour.

Young Caucasians Sing What'd I Say:

[Extra] Ray Beethoven (John Belushi, I don't know from which SNL episode):


  1. Probably my favorite SNL episode of all time!

  2. You cut the Young Caucasions clip off too soon, Ray does a smoking version of the song in response.

  3. B Moe, my thoughts exactly, I was waiting for it....then it just ended. Very Sad.