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20 August 2010

Ray Charles Is In Town - Chronology 1953

Early '53 ad in Billboard.

Mess Around peaks at #3 of R&B Chart.

January 1953
Keeping a room at the Green Acres Motel, and hanging around at Empire Room in Dallas.
This (written by Quincy Jones) could have occurred then:

From Cashbox, Sep. 4, 1971.
3 January 1953
Billboard news: Walkin' And Talkin' is doing well on jukes in South and Central Florida.

4 January 1953
Gig in Houston with Joe Turner.

5 - 22 January
Week-long gigs at the Auditorium of the Carver Library in San Antonio (second on a bill with T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, and Choker Campbell and his Orchestra), and in Fort Worth.

23 January 1953
Gig in Oklahoma City.
Ad from Billboard, early '53.
31 January 1953
Billboard review of Jumpin In The Mornin' (“this one could catch coins") / The Sun's Gonna Shine Again ("fans should enjoy this disking. A good platter").

28 February 1953
Billboard ad - Atlantic places Jumpin' In The Mornin' under "new hits":

7 March 1953
Billboard review (a briefer one appeared on 28 february) of Misery in My Heart ("Sounds like chanter has another strong one here") / The Snow Is Falling ("More strong chanting and another okay hunk of blues material").

From Cashbox, Mar. 7, 1953.

From Billboard, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.
From Cashbox, Apr. 4, 1953.

April - early May 1953
A long southern tour with Little Walter (Jacobs) and his Aces winds down. Ray, appearing on solo piano before Walter took stage, initially was one of the opening acts. From the biography Blues With A Feeling; The Little Walter Story: "One night during Walter's set, in the midst of a swinging instrumental, Charles grabbed his saxophone [...] and came back out on stage, unannounced, and joined in. It sounded good, and the crowd responded, so for the duration of the tour, Charles played sax with Walter almost every night."

10 May 1953
Private Function, New York.
Recording session (rehearsal) at Atlantic in New York.

17 May 1953
Recording at Atlantic Recording Studio in New York (the Mess Around session).

27 June 1953
Billboard ad - Atlantic lists Mess Around / Funny But I Still Love You as "A new Sound in Blues"; will peak at #3 on Billboard R&B chart.

From Cashbox, Jun. 27, 1953.

July 1953
Release of the single Mess Around / Funny (But I Still Love You) by Atlantic.
From Billboard, Aug. 15.
August - December 1953
Ray worked a lot (and obviously must have lived) in New Orleans during this period (also see data points below). Drummer Earl Palmer remembered that he was still 'in between styles': "We avoided Ray Charles too. [...] Ray would be waiting to jam with us. I thought he was good and played a hell of a lot of piano, It's just that all he wanted to do was his Nat King Cole imitations and we'd played Nat King Cole all night long."
During one of the gigs Ray and Al Hibbler got in a fight, about who was going to get up and sing first. "They both said, 'I'm going to kick you in the ass!' and we cracked up laughing. 'We don't doubt you'd do it, but we just wondering: How you going to find his ass?'".

August 1953
With Roscoe Gordon for a number of one nighters in the Midwest.
Starts working with Guitar Slim as pianist and arranger.

18 August 1953
From Billboard, Aug. 22.
Ray backs Tommy Ridgley on piano, taping a few sides at J&M Studio in New Orleans. See this.
 Uses the occasion to record Feelin' Sad and I Wonder Who.

Late August 1953
Weekend gig at Dew Drop Inn, New Orleans.

End of August - End of October 1953
String of one-nighters, starting in Houston.

12 September 1953
Billboard ad - Atlantic promotes release of Heartbreaker / Feelin' Sad as "Two More Fantastic Slides by the New Champ of the Blues".
Billboard review (Sep. 26): Heartbreaker ("this waxing has a chance to break thru") / Feelin' Sad ("could get a lot of spins").

From Cashbox, Oct. 24, 1953.
21 October 1953
 PreHalloween dance at Magnolia Ballroom (not the City Auditorium!) in Atlanta (GA); ("Ray Charles has been regularly featured in night clubs, theatres and on radio. Dancegoers have crowded leading casinos throughout the United States during his tours with major orchestras", "presently on the Harlem hit parade for his hit 'Mess Around'[...]"); co-featured with the Griffin Brothers' orchestra, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Claudia Swann.
From Atlanta Daily World, Oct. 18.

23 – 25 October 1953
At Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans LA, at $50/night.

24 October 1953
Billboard ad - Atlantic promotes Heartbreaker / Feelin' Sad ("Just Released - and Tremendous in Dallas, New Orleans and Houston").
Ad in Billboard, September 12, 1953.
Ad in Billboard, October 24, 1953.

26 October to 5 November 1953
Two-week club gig in New Orleans.

27 October 1953
Playing piano behind Guitar Slim in a recording session at Cosmo's. See this.

31 October 1953
Halloween concert at San Jacinto Ballroom (got so noisy, according to Louisiana Weekly,  that the police arrested 47 "youthful chippies", seized two guns, and found "evidence that weeds had been used").
December 1953
Release of the single The Things That I Used To Do / Well I Done Got Over It (with Guitar Slim; Ray on piano).

4 December 1953
Recording Don't You Know in New Orleans.

31 December 1953
Library Auditorium, San Antonio (with T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn).

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