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

30 May 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Dutch Pop Magazine Rooster (1963)

The Dutch Beeld- & Geluid-Archief keeps a 'fotofilm' (document ID 49249) from the 1963 'pop magazine' Rooster, that aired on 19 April 1963 on AVRO tv, hosted by Lonneke Hoogland and Wilco Meyer.

This newspaper article makes clear that the item in Rooster was a special Ray Charles profile, on the occasion of his concerts on May 11 in Amsterdam and The Hague. The profile was ridiculously short, a TV-critic remarked the following day.

For Dutch readers of this blog: In the same episode of Rooster Elly de Wit performed Wini, Wini, Carla van Someren sang Mr. Casanova, and Johnny Lion & The Jumping Jewels with The Bibbits performed Blame It On The Bossa Nova.

Ray Charles In Campaign For National Organization On Disability (1985)

In 1985 the Edwin Bird Wilson agency volunteered to do an Advertising Council campaign for the National Organization On Disability. The commercial was produced by Jenkins Covington Newman Rath, filmed in LA, and directed by Bob Wolfe. After Ray's rendition of America the Beautiful at the Republican National Convention in 1984, there was no question of what he should do on camera. So that is the music he played while urging viewers to sign up as local volunteers for the disabled. Actually, that is what you will think that he is doing - playing and speaking from a phenomenal memory - but while, having taped the music, Ray was really sitting at his piano reading a braille text of his remarks cunningly concealed on the keyboard. Also read this and this. The making of-story is here.

Some sources suggest that there was a second commercial in '87, but after seeing the PSA below, my conclusion is that there probably was only one - which was produced and broadcast in 1985, and re-broadcast in 1987.

Ray Charles At Republican Party Convention In 1984

 The Raegans applaud Ray at the
inaugural ball on Jan. 20, 1981. 
 Ray & the Reagans at Constitution
Hall, in 1983. 
The Beeld- & Geluid-Archief holds a fragment of the Dutch public broadcasting's prime time news cast, the NOS Journaal, of 24 August 1984, where Ray sings America The Beautiful during the Republican Party Convention, described in their database as "Reagan and Bush on stage, applause, Ray Charles sings".
NBC covered Ray Charles at least three times during the event. According to NBC News Archives (ID T840824, N840824) Ray was seen playing "[...] God Bless America [sic!] on the piano".

On 24 August NBC had a 5m30s item (ID T860728) on Ray. Synopsis: "Musician Ray Charles discusses his career - part 1 of 2. In interview black musician Charles says he doesn't think of himself as a blues, country & western, or jazz singer, but as a good utility man. He states he could'nt stay away from music as a child. Charles sings & plays piano in concert. He compares singing to acting & asserts both involve a deeply felt emotion. He states he likes a lot of songs although that doesn't mean he can sing them. Charles claims he likes to do songs his own way adding the final criterion in choosing a song is whether or not it moves him. On 8-24-84 Charles is seen at the Republican Convention with VP Bush & Pres & Mrs Reagan. Charles sings America The Beautiful". [See comment for correction on the quoted date].

After acceptance speech at GOP
Convention in Dallas on Aug. 23, 1984.
After his appearance at the 1984 convention, Charles also played at the subsequent Inaugural Ball. And in 1986, Reagan and his wife attended the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in which Ray Charles was one of the honored artists.

Ray wasn't picky with the presidents he performed for. Watch this. And this. And this, this and this. Ray has explicitly stated several times that he talked with presidents to lobby for the charities he supported, and that he played for them because he was paid for it.

Ray Charles and Ronald Reagan have crossed paths more than once. Charles worked with Reagan during his first term on disability issues. Soon after Reagan took office in 1981, he signed a proclamation for the Decade of Disabled Persons. Reagan then helped launch the National Organization On Disability's Ad Council campaign, which featured Ray Charles.

America The Beautiful:

Afterwards they schlepped Ray around in triumph (sequence starts at 2:19:50):

Ray Charles Ft. In The 32nd Annual Grammy Awards (1990)

In this edition of the Grammy Awards, broadcast live on 21 February 1990, Paul McCartney was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
McCartney credited Ray as a major influence, and as the singer responsible for some of the definitive interpretations of a few of his own songs, like Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby.

Eleanor Rigby:

Ray Charles Ft In Mies, A Dutch Talk Show (1981)

Mies Bouwman reikt een gouden plaat uit aan Ray Charles

The clip below entails one of the most embarrassing sequences in the international history of television. It may also be labeled as the longest blooper in the history of entertainment.
The circumstances weren't that bad. Mies Bouwman, the host of this talkshow (adequately titled Mies), had a reputation of being the "mother of Dutch television entertainment". She was a highly competent producer and presenter of numerous formats since the earliest days of Dutch television. The show was directed by Leen Timp (accidentally Mies' husband), a highly skilled and extremely experienced tv maker as well. The show was live, aired on 17 (or 18) November 1981, from the 't Spant Theater in Bussum. The Dutch have a sound reputation when it comes to live tv production.
The other guests were soccer player Johan Cruijff, comedian/actor Johnny Kraaykamp, singer Trea Dobbs (of local Ploem Ploem Jenka-fame) and Diana Ross (who was interviewed by Mies, but - thank God - didn't have to perform live).
After a quick introduction by Mies, the set opened to show Ray, sitting at a baby grand. The orchestra tape didn't start where (or as) Ray expected, and he had to hum a few notes before tackling the lyrics. His rendition of Your Cheating Heart, however, was excellent.
When he was done with that, Mies walked up to him, with a big bunch of flowers. It took a while before the lighting director found back both of them. Mies handed over the flowers to Ray, for whom this obviously was big enough of a surprise. But then she had another one waiting for him.
She presented a golden record for The Legend Lives (a compilation album; probably to be identified with Arcade ADE G 139), which sold 50,000 copies in The Netherlands.
To top it off, she explained that the record company had put some commemorative text on the golden record, in braille.
To accept the golden record and braille-read it, Ray first had to get rid of the flowers. He succeeded in doing just that, be it after a brief struggle with Mies, and quickly concluded that he couldn't feel the braille (because the record company had finished the present off with a glass plate). Mies, in her worst schoolgirl dunglish, apologized to Ray, abundantly blaming the record company.
Hurrying to the next item of her show, she left Ray, helplessly, behind in the middle of the set.
Source materials: Beeld en Geluid-archief, Document ID: 98923.

Your Cheating Heart:

24 May 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In 72nd Academy Awards Show (2000)

With Garth Brooks
and Burt Bacharach.
On 26 March 2000 Ray performed Secret Love and I Got You Under My Skin at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards Show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, as a participant in a past's original songs medley.
Ray Charles and Garth Brooks, enteringthe 72nd Academy Awards" TV stage 
Photo by Eugene Pinkowski.
The Boston Herald wrote: "Yes, the Oscar show touched all the right places and hit all the high notes. After two hours, the show went soaring with the musical montage of classic movie songs - sung by Dionne Warwick, Queen Latifah, Isaac Hayes, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Ray Charles and Burt Bacharach. The magical medley hit the highest note of all. The production was breathtaking, sparking the jaded audience in the Shrine Auditorium to rise in delight."
This photo has the complete line-up, with Ray Charles, Garth Brooks, Burt Bachrach, Dionne Warwick, Faith Hill, Isaac Hayes and Queen Latifah.

Ray started that day with his rhythm trio at a Salvatore Ferragamo's fashion show in Milan (arrived there on the 25th).
Drummer Peter Turre recalls: "Then to Shrine Auditorium in LA for 72nd Academy Awards Show, performing Secret Love from the film Calamity Jane. Then we hightailed it to the airport to catch a non-stop flight from Milan to LAX [...]. Ray was [...] cleared through customs and immigration immediately, and put on a helicopter to get to the Shrine in downtown LA for rehearsal. We all marveled at how a 70-year-old man could do this [...]").
Brad Rabuchin remembers "[...] flying back to LA with him that day. We asked him about the Academy awards show and what he was going to play. He said something like 'I better think about the tunes'."

21 May 2010

Ray Charles Interviewed By Ed Bernstein (1999)

The Ed Bernstein Show is a talk show (and the state of Nevada's longest running television show). This interview was taped on 18 March 1999.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Ray Charles Interviewed By Norman Gunston (1975)

The Norman Gunston Show ran in Australia from 1975 to 1979. 'Norman Gunston' was the creation of comedian Garry McDonald, a '70s predecessor of Borat, always asking the most ridiculous questions. The show in the clip below is from September 1975 (series 2, episode 11), and was directed by John Eastway. The other guests were Peter Allen and Telly Savalas. The whole sequence with Ray can be seen here.


'75 IV Gunston (short outtake):

Ray Charles In The Sessions Project (1985)

The image on the cover of Genius 
Loves Company comes from 
the photo shoot discussed 
in this posting.
In more than 2000 photo shoots since 1969, Norman Seeff has worked with stars, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs. More than 400 of these were "sessions", a combination of a workshop and "a celebration of creative spontaneity" that attracted audiences of 30-40 at each session, swelling to over 200 on some occasions. Many of these shoots were filmed. A release of The Sessions Project documentary was announced for 2009 (but didn't happen yet, as far as I know).
Ray was in top condition in this session (originally planned for a Pioneer print campaign), talking and joking, and playing and singing (a very soulful improv about the "Feeling inside").

In this preview of a documentary about Seeff (an episode of 60 Minutes, first aired on May 1, 2017) are some more snippets:

Norman Seeff in his 2013 TedX talk:

The shoot led to a marvelous series of iconic, often quoted, portraits:
Photos by Norman Seeff.
Rest materials from the same shoot.

In his notes to a photo exhibition in 2013, Seeff remembered:
"When you work with someone who's blind, all their other senses have to be heightened. They don't have the same ego. When you're blind, you have to feel like, 'Do I trust this person? Am I willing to put myself in their hands?'
"When Ray came in, he was a little edgy and a little, kind of, how can I put it... He was testing me to see where I'm at. 'Is this guy genuine, or is he full of shit?' kind of stuff.
"I brought a piano in, and in between stuff he started to play, and we ended up having one of the most profound conversations. By the time we finished, he was calling me brother. Once he trusted me, he could feel my energy. He was like an antenna for a radio station.
"I would never do commercial photography — it was always for album covers or magazines. But this ad agency had brought him on as a spokesperson for [Pioneer] LaserDisc, and since it was an artist of his stature they wanted someone who knew how to handle personalities of that scale. I probably had him for an hour and a half. I went bang, bang, bang, and it was over in two seconds. And I said, 'We're done, thank you. We have the shot and you can go home.'"

20 May 2010

Ray Charles In The History of Rock 'N' Roll (1995)

The clip below comes from one of many pop music anthologies that have come into fashion since the 1980s.
The History of Rock 'N' Roll (1995), a TV documentary series, written and directed by Andrew Solt, produced by Time-Warner belongs to the better examples. The content, as usual with this format category, consists of fragments of archival performances, and new statements - all by and about the usual suspects, including Ray Charles. But the songs are well chosen, and the interviewees all know what they talk about.
Ray got proper attention (also as an interviewee) in the episodes titled Sounds Of Soul, and The Rock 'n' Roll Explodes. 

   [Clips removed from YouTube]

Boxset DVD Box:
Warner, 5 October 2004, ASIN: B0002234XQ.

Ray Charles - Genius At Work (c 2005)

Documentary ("work in progress") by Brian Austin. Raelette Tonette McKinney inside RPM Studios, talking about working for & with Mr. Charles. "It's so quiet here now!"

Moving! A pity that the documentary was never completed...

Ray Charles' Glasses On Display In Smithsonian (2005)

Braille keyboard, signature sunglasses, and other memorabilia of Rhythm and Blues Legend Ray Charles on (rather sinister) display at Washington DC's Smithsonian museum. Watch here.

KJLH Visits The Ray Charles Studios (2004)

KJLH Radio broadcast from RPM Studios on 31 August 2004 (soft-promoting the then new release of Genius Loves Company). Amateurish but respectful footage, with Billy Preston and David Ritz as studio guests. And fascinating pans along Ray's wardrobe and piano collection.

Ray's gleaming suit jackets have been intriguing me since long. He had multiple jackets in the same style made of metallic brocades with varying colors and patterns. The jacket on the photo was constructed of a synthetic bright red satin with a gold metallic brocade pattern in a stylized floral paisley, with black satin lapels, buttons, and pocket trim and three original labels: one embroidered with “Custom made by PARKVIEW Clothes, Los Angeles, Calif.," another embroidered with “Custom styled for Ray Charles," and a third interior pocket label with “CHARLES” written in faded ink. During the last decades of his life they were custom made by Parkview Clothes in Los Angeles.
The red and gold brocade tuxedo jacket (photo) was worn by him in 1985/86. The Golden Closet, "your premiere source for screen used wardrobe, props, and music entertainment memorabilia" asked $ 6000 - 8000 for it. A photo from a performance is used on the booklet cover for the 1998 4-disk CD box set Ray Charles: The Complete Country and Western Recordings 1959 – 1986.

Read a fine description of this jacket in this article.
Blue and silver suit jacket from c. 1985.

In 2011 Concord Music uploaded this clip - titled Where a Blind “Genius” Created His Music - Inside Ray Charles’ offices. Also read this.

Ray Charles In 3M Scotch Campaign (1977 - 1979)

The campaign for Scotch' Master I, II and III premium line audio tapes started in 1977, and still ran in '79. The agency was Foote Cone & Belding.
The theme was "The Truth Comes Out", which also was the jingle's catchline, sung by Ray. In most instances, and also in this case, Ray produced the audio parts of commercials in his own RPM studio in Los Angeles.
In 1978 "Jim Johnston directed Ray Charles in a pair of 30s for Scotch recording tape" (new commercials were possibly shot each campaign year). The clip embedded below has a 10-second edit.
In October '79 an "expanded Scotch brand audio tape tv campaign for 1979 featuring singer/composer/producer Ray Charles" was announced, which "will be seen during such major shows as Saturday Night Live and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show."
The still photo is clipped from an article in Billboard, in 1978. Also see this Billboard article.

Lexus Using All 4:37 Of Ray Charles' If I Could In TV Commercial (2010)

If I Could (from album My World, from 1993):

Ray Charles Ft. In Commercial For (With Quincy Jones)

PSA for Complete audio interview here.

03 CM Mentoring:

Soundfile of 1m24s (original used for video above, radio version?):
 Ray Charles On Quincy Jones
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Ray Charles Ft. In Commercial For Griffith University (1998)

'98 CM Griffith:

This TV commercial from agency Redsuit Advertising was shot and directed by Ron Johanson ACS and produced by Karen Hayward of Blacklab International on 29 April 1998. Writer: John Anderson, art director: Garry Wheelhouse.
"Mr Charles was on a very tight schedule, the shooting - in Brisbane - only took 14 and a half minutes".

Ray Charles Ft. In Honda Commercial (1995)

The woman is Matsuyuki Yasuko who - within the same campaign - also featured in commercials with other American celibrities.
Behind the scene photos (here) indicate that either not all footage that was shot with Ray, was used, or that one or more different Genius commercials were produced within the same campaign.

'95 CM Honda:

Ray Charles Ft. In Peugeot Commercial (1994)

1994, Peugeot 306:

Ray Charles Ft. In Pepsi Commercials (1990 - 1993)

Long before Ray Charles starred in Pepsi's tv commercials in the early 1990s, he contributed to a famous Coca Cola campaign in 1966 - 1967 (see this and this). Few people remember that he also featured in a Pepsi radio campaign in 1986, titled The Best Of The New Generation (the songs "had nothing to do with the product; only his narration alluded to" the brand).

But the famous tv ad campaign for Diet Pepsi which started in 1990 had a genuine impact. It certainly helped to recharge Ray's image. You've got the right one, baby, uh-huh became the most popular catch phrase of the decade. The Auditions spot was rated most memorable commercial in 1991.

Ray Charles 50th anniversary in show business show in 1991 was entitled 50 Years In Music, Uh-Huh!  and was obviously sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. During one of the breaks in the first Fox broadcast of this show, Pepsi aired a commercial with a compilation of 10 price winners' efforts in a nation-wide Uh-huh contest that attracted thousands of video entries. An early example of user generated content; the later Audition commercial must have been ignited by this success.
"Following the announcement of the contest on February's Grammy Award telecast, nearly 4,000 individuals and groups submitted videos in a quest for fame (a chance to appear in a commercial) and fortune ($10,000 prize money). Originally, only three were to have been chosen, but the field was expanded when Pepsi's ad agency, BBDO, contemplated the overwhelming number of entries. Little Flower's 59 seconds-plus-a-few-milliseconds-long video featured sombrero'ed members of the Spanish Club belting out the jingle (in Spanish, of course); students warbling in a chem lab; a nun, Sister Loretta, who'd been at the school 47 years, singing, and a priest who transformed the jingle into a Gregorian chant - with a chorus of nuns intoning "Uh-Huh" instead of ''Amen." Incorporated into the Diet Pepsi ad was the Little Flower's grand finale: each member of the student body holding up a Diet Pepsi can in front of the school as a 70-foot-high homemade Pepsi banner was raised. The Blessed Virgin Mary cheerleaders were archdiocese champions last season. Wearing their navy blue and white cheerleader outfits, they performed a routine to the jingle while one of the girls' fathers videotaped them."
From 1991 on the campaign also ran in many other markets. In 1991 Pepsi e.g. decided to bring the Uh-Huh! spirit to Russia in the first-ever television commercials for Diet Pepsi seen in the Soviet Republic. Pepsi sponsored the Russian broadcast of the concert that Ray did in Moscow. When Charles appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show in August 1993, Arsenio made him crack up with a joke on the Uh-huh Girls: "Ray, If you got the right one, can I have the one on the left?"

The advertising campaign was created for Pepsi by BBDO, the New York advertising agency. The official title of the tune was Ray's Song. It was penned by Peter Cofeld at Sunday Productions, also of New York City. In the newsclip below BBDO's creative team and Cofield give more backgrounds.
Arthur Takeall of Annapolis, Maryland, a ventriloquist, claimed he was the author, and even registered the copyright on the song and the Federal Registered Trademark, You Got the Right One, Baby, Uh Huh. But he lost. There also was a persistent rumor that TAFKAP/Prince produced a demo of the jingle.
Update April 25, 2019: Here is a completely different take on Prince's involvement, mentioning authorship by (the advertising agency's?) creative director Alfred Merrin and jingle producer/composer Peter Cofield. The music sounds real. (Ray certainly didn't play, though, nor did The Raelettes take care of the background vocals).

I haven't found sufficient proof of the production or air dates of the commercial series, but I'll share my best guess reconstruction of their chronology.
The first campaign is from 1990, and entailed the commercials Wiseguy and Montana. In 1991 and 1992 the  television ads featured Ray with much more production value, surrounded by models reminiscing the Raelettes (they were nicknamed the Paylettes), singing the Uh-huh song. The 1991 campaign was launched during the commercial break of the Super Bowl XXV (the Conus Archive, ID 107271, has shelved the  making-of footage).
Uh Huh! soon also was featured on Diet Pepsi packaging. Later, after Diet Pepsi phased out the aspartame/saccharin mix in favor of a 100% aspartame formula, many commercials ended with an announcer saying, "With 100% Uh-Huh", replacing the earlier "With 100% NutraSweet". At the end of 1992 and '93 the campaign extended into a few promotions.

There even was an IVR extension, featuring Ray's voice, to simulate a dialogue with consumers.
Ray and his band (everybody sporting Pepsi-sponsored leasure ware) also played a series of free concerts at shopping malls in April 1991 (see this).
The agency went wild with all kinds of point-of-sale promotion materials (many of which are now for sale on Ebay).
In 1998 Pepsi celebrated its centennial year with a birthday party attended by bottlers from around the world and special guests including Ray Charles.

Newsclip in the context of the Superbowl, with BBDO team and composer, a few making of sequences, and a statement by the old man himself (Fox 5/WNYW, 1991):

The compilation tape below has the following commercials (YouTube usually has copies of separate spots with a better quality):
 Ray Charles singing thru
Pepsi door device (c. 1992).
  • Orchestra [according to one source taped on 18 February 1991] - 30"
  • Auditions [1991, with a.o. Jerry Lewis, Charo, Tiny Tim, Bo Jackson] - 30"
  • Courtroom [1991 or 1992] - 30"
  • Blues [1992] - 30"
  • Twins [1992] - 30"
  • Wiseguy [1990] - 30"
  • Worldwide [1991 or 1992] - 30"
  • Auditions [1991] - 60"
  • Orchestra [1991] - 60"

Other commercials were:
  • Montana [1990] - 30" 
  • Worldwide 60" [1991].
  • Superbowl/Congress (1992).
  • Auditions, take-off with John Stockton [1992 or 1993] - 25"; according to one source taped at the Osmond Stage in Orem, Utah for [improbably! BS:] JWT/LA. "NBA player, John Stockton, all-time leader in assists with the Utah Jazz, just can't seem to get it right until he gets a needed assist".
  • Backup Girls (the Paylettes without Ray) [1992 or 1993] - 30".
  • Ingredients [May 1992 or 1993] - 30".
  • Women at the beach [1993] - 30".
  • Cases [1993] - 30".
  • Lamborghini [1993] - 30".
  • Blues Club [1993] - 30".
  • A local variation became extremely successful in India, also during the early 1990s; slogan: Yeh hi hai right choice baby, produced by HTA and Mukul Anand.
'Demo by Prince':

Pepsi commercial round-up "Who's Next", with Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, and Britney Spears, aired during the premiere episode of X Factor USA in 2011:

The Ray Charles Marketing Group uploaded a commercial from the 1990s that I didn't see before:

A 1993 promotion:

1993 Blues:

Ray Charles Ft. Singing Jingle(s) In Maxwell House Commercials

Recording for Maxwell
with Gwen Conley.
Ray Charles sang the jingle of a long-running Maxwell House TV campaign. "This new approach seeks to touch a nerve, to bring a tear to people's eyes," said Harvey Gabor, creative at agency O&M.
The jingle was composed by Joseph Brooks (source: New York Times, August 29, 1982).

(Commercial #1 on this reel):

(Last commercial on this reel):

Ray also contributed to a Maxwell House radio commercial (or was it with the same jingle?) in 1982. And this aired in 1985.

Ray Charles Ft. In Pioneer Commercial (1984)

The Pioneer advertising account was handled by Altschiller Reitzfeld Solin. The ads ran from September 1984. In the television spots prepared especially for MTV, Charles talked about the importance of sound joined with sight. Each of the three print ads showed a product shot accompanied by a statement from Charles.
According to the agency, Charles was a natural choice since the quality of sound with laser discs, when compared with that of video cassette recorders, was extremely high. "The singer's presence adds credibility to the audio claims."

1984, Pioneer commercial:
The same commercial was re-used in the demos on this utterly geeky promotion reel:
And this is the complete demo:

Promotional laser disc (P.O.S.?):
Print ad from same campaign; the photos were made by Norman Seeff:

Ad from 1986.

Ray Charles Ft. In PSA For USA Space Foundation (c 1983)

In a series of at least two public service announcements for the U.S. Space Foundation from circa 1983, Ray Charles and Itzhak Perlman pointed out that we can't always see the benefits of space research, but sometimes we can feel them. The commercials were part of a campaign in which some other 'odd couples' were featured as well (e.g. Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson). Slogan: "This is what's in it for you."
Source: Paley Center, ID: AT:21902.008.


Wheel chair:

Ray Charles Ft. In Smokey Bear PSA (c 1975)

Campaign poster.
In 1975 Ray Charles contributed to a radio infomercial, titled "A Personal Viewpoint" for the Forest Service USDA and their long-running Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Smokey Bear  campaign. Ray played a few chords on his piano. Listen here.

Ray Charles Ft. In Coca Cola Commercials (Also With Aretha Franklin) (1965, 1967, 1968)

This PR piece was published in the Carolina Times
on February 8, 1969.
In 1965 Ray recorded a series of radio commercials for Coke. They were part of the McCann Ericsson campaign "Things Go Better With Coke", to which a whole slew of other soul singers also contributed. Ray's version received the Golden Spike Award as the best radio commercial in 1965 (Ray's rehab year!).
In November 1968 Ray recorded and sang a new set of commercials with Aretha Franklin (a duet and two  individually performed versions by both artists). The session was produced by Billy Davis. The arrangements were done by Sid Feller and Rene Hall. Hall conducted the Ray Charles band, Feller took care of the strings. Ray and Aretha used their own backing vocals groups.
"Many pieces of material were rejected before the four sets of lyrics and melodies were chosen. The writers finally selected were Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, from England, Neil Diamond and Rosemary McCoy," the Los Angeles Sentinel reported (Diamond may have written the Ray + Aretha commercials).
There may well have been more versions of Ray's solo radio commercials. The time line below isn't certain, but to me it seems to be the most logical chronology.

"What A Day...", and  2x "I'm So Tired (It's Been A Long Journey)" - in the context of a contemporary Bill Cosby radio show, aired in February and March, 1968:

"When I Come Home To You In The Evening" - 55 seconds, from '65 or '66 (ignore picture;-) - this jingle was also released as a hidden track on Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary Collection (16 September 1997; Rhino/WEA, ASIN: B00000343O), right after America The Beautiful, on the 4th disk.

"I'm So Tired (It's Been A Long Journey)" - 60 seconds:

"When You Find Your Worried Mind Is Easin'" (with Aretha Franklin) - 90 seconds:

"You Bring On The Good Times Darling (with Aretha Franklin)" - to my regret I can only present this one in an unfunny lipsynch spoof:

"I'll Be Walkin' Up And Down" (Aretha's solo radio commercial) - 60 seconds, from 1966 or '67:

In 1968 Coca Cola also produced a glamorous TV commercial with Charles, shot in and around his airplane. The sound track uses the Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway song In between The Heartaches And The Crying, written specially for Ray Charles. Listen to the track in the second clip, below.

In 1970 Cook and Greenaway were awarded for the 'Radio Jingle Of The Year' in the States (which may imply that the TV commercial was also from 1969).
"In Between The Heartaches And The Crying" - 90 seconds:

Excellent studio set photos (allegedly shot by Joe Adams during the recording of radio commercials) can be found here. They were used in a Coke print campaign (full color and black/white), including advertorials as in Ebony, October 1967:
Contemporary promo single:

Over the years, commercials from the campaign were (re-)released on several albums. In 1996 and 1998 Ray's and Aretha's radio commercials (a/o longer studio versions of their jingles?) were part of a series of 2 compilation CDs on the Vox label (UK):   
Here is another compilation.

15 May 2010

This May Explain Why YouTube Was An Instant Success

YouTube was founded on 15 February 2005. This is how playing and republishing a video still had to be explained on 30 November 2004:

Ray Charles Smack Dab In Space (2000)

Wakeup calls are a long-standing tradition of the NASA program. Each day during the mission, flight controllers in the Mission Control Center will greet the crew with an appropriate musical interlude. The wakeup song of Day 6 (17 February 2000) of flight STS-99 was Smack Dab In The Middle, performed by Ray Charles
STS-99 was a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission, commanded by Kevin R. Kregel, that launched on 11 February 2000 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The primary objective of the mission was the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) project. The mission was deployed successfully to its full length, and the antenna was turned to its operation position. After a successful checkout of the radar systems, mapping began at 00:31 EST, less than 12 hours after launch. Crewmembers, split into two shifts so they could work around the clock, began mapping an area from 60 degrees north to 56 degrees south. Data was sent to Jet Propulsion Laboratory for analysis and early indications showed the data to be of excellent quality.

13 May 2010

James & Ray (1996)

It's slightly off-topic in the context of this blog, but the photo is too beautiful not to reproduce it.
From Jet magazine, 9 September 1996.

Ray Charles In The Switched-on Symphony (1970)

Ad by NBC.
NBC on 14 March 1970 aired a special tv show, entitled The Switched-on Symphony. The artists played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta. Ray performed Yesterday.
The other performers were Jethro Tull, Santana, The Nice, Bobby Sherman, Jerry Goodman, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Christopher Parkening, João Carlos Martins, and Pinchas Zukerman.

The show was sponsored by Bell/AT&T. It had a three-day shooting schedule. Conceived by Pierre Cossette, and was produced by Jack Good. For a funny making of-story see here.

The uploader of this clip says that the show is from 1969. That could be the copyright date or, maybe, the actual year the show was shot.


Clipping from the Washington Afro-American, 10 March 1970.

Ray Charles At 27th and 35th NAACP Image Awards (1996, 2004)

Clipping from Jet, 29 April 1996: Oprah, Quincy (who was honored as entertainer of the year), Ray
Ray performed during the 27th NAACP Image Awards, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The show was taped on 6 April 1996, and aired on 23 April.
The program was co-hosted by Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington, directed by Terri McCoy, and broadcast by Fox Network.
Billboard reported that during this program Quincy Jones was honored as an outstanding jazz artist for Q's Juke Joint (cf. this): "[...] musical sets included a performance by Ray Charles and Ernestine Anderson, who sang Let The Good Times Roll from Q's Juke Joint". A slightly more correct description is that Anderson and Charles performed a duet of the tune in a set with a big neon sign carrying the logo of Q's Juke Joint.

On 6 March 2004, at the 35th Annual Image Awards Quincy Jones inducted Ray into the NAACP Hall Of Fame, at the Universal Amphitheatre, in Hollywood.
Stevie Wonder, B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt sang Georgia as a tribute. Photo here.

Ray Charles Inducting Nat Cole In Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (2000)

Clipping from Jet, 
27 March 2000.
The induction ceremonies took place at the Waldorf Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Ray Charles inducted Nat King Cole with his daughters, Natalie, Casey and Timolin. "He was my beginning," Ray said. "You study mathematics, I studied Nat Cole."
A running joke of the evening was when Charles misspoke several times, saying it was for the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. "Ray Charles [...] tore up the Waldorf when he admitted that he 'tried to steal Nat Cole's voice. I even tried to steal his piano - he wouldn't let me, but I tried,'" an other newspaper reported.
Ray sang Nature Boy. The AP archive has a 5 minute show biz news item, dated 9 March 2000, covering part of this performance, and a testimonial on Nat Cole by Ray.
At least a part of Ray's performance was filmed (archived by AP). The song was released on Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Volume 6: 2000 - 2001 (Time-Life, 2012l; available as download).

Nat King Cole, Nature Boy: