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20 May 2010

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

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 lyris 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.

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