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28 July 2010

Ray Charles Interviewed In London & Touring In The UK (1963)

The BBC Archive has a tape of a black-and-white news item titled "Ray Charles Int. In London By A Reporter", broadcast on 12 May 1963. The catalog description is "The blind singer & pianist, Ray Charles, who earns a million dollars a year, is holding an opening concert in London tonight. Later, during the show people clustered round him in the star dressing room."
The shotlist: "Ray Charles out of car into building; SOF: "It's been pretty hectic the last few days, hasn't it Ray, Hamburg & Amsterdam?"; SOF ends: "...these are the songs you can't get away unless you do"; Quick out."

On 8 May Ray performed for a "standing room only" crowd at The Star Club in Hamburg, on 11 May he performed at the Houtrusthallen in The Hague, and the Nieuwe RAI* in Amsterdam (three months later he’d be back in Holland again, now for a concert at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen), on 12 May he made his England debut (booked by Harold Davison) before 3,200 fans at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London. On 17 May he was still touring the UK. On 22 May he completed his sensational three night engagement at the Olympia Theatre in Paris.

UK itinerary

12 - 13 May 1963: Flies in at Gatwick Airport on 12th to begin his first British tour; interviewed by BBC at airport. That same night the British debut before 3,200 fans at the Finsbury Park Astoria in London; playing a.o. One Mint Julep, I've Got A Woman, Born To Lose, Careless Love, I Can't Stop Loving You, You Are My Sunshine, Without A Song, My Baby, Hallelujah I Love Her So, Hide Nor Hair, Don't Set Me Free, What'd I Say (a 2nd concert night there on the 13th).

With Raita Johnson, probably during these days in London.
Unidentified occasion and source, (London?) c. 1963.
Backstage with trumpeter Wallace Davenport. Photo by Val Wilmer. 
Hank Crawford. Photo by Val Wilmer.
Margie Hendricks at the Astoria's dressing room. Photo by Val Wilmer.

Photos: Rex Features.

14 May 1963: Hammersmith Odeon, London. Quotes from New Musical Express articles from 10, 17 and 24 May: "Raelets leader Margie Hendrix missed Charles' concert at Hammersmith on Tuesday through illness but was able to rejoin the show the following night". "That wasn't the real Ray Charles," said Ray Charles. "With Maggie ill, no one could sing her part. So I had to leave out a lot of the wilder things..."

Photos by James J. Kringmann of The Raelettes, from this same souvenir brochure.

15 May 1963: New Victoria, London.

16 May 1963: Odeon, Birmingham.

17 May 1963: Leeds. 

18 May 1963: Free Trade Hall, Manchester.

19 May 1963: Hammersmith Odeon, London.

21 May 1963: Concert in London.

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