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20 August 2010

Ray Charles Is In Town - Chronology 1956

This was the first year that pics from a James J. Kriegsman publicity photo shoot were used (see the poster sub March 27th, below), so I assume the shoot took place in the last months of 1955, or January/February of 1956. Both Atlantic and Shaw Agents used the photos frequently. The photo used on the cover of this Ray Charles Biography Press Kit (from 1957), with Ray looking to the left, is quite rare:

The two Kriegsman photos below have been applied in ads, press articles and cover artwork many times, even well into the 1970s, they are still widely sold as postcards.  
 Rarely used photo from the same series:
 The next photo (with the piano lamp) is even more famous; it is also attributed to Kriegsman, but it's difficult to place on a timeline. The setting with the white piano seems to be identical to the photos above, but Ray wares other glasses and a dark tie, and his hair seems to be shorter.
The photo below was made by Charles 'Teenie' (aka 'One Shot') Harris in a 1955 photo session, in Pittsburgh.
Ray wares the same glasses and possibly the same suit as in the first two photos, above. The thing around his neck is probably a sax cord, and may indicate that the shot was taken during a gig. 
In the few instances where the photo was published or was offered for licensing by a stock agency, the girls were recognized as The Raelettes, but that attribution is problematic. It may be that these girls performed with Ray (the similarities in their showy dresses could be an indication for that)...
...But a) the Raelettes name was a later invention, b) in the early days Ray always worked with 3 girls - Cookies or Raelettes - maximum (for a few years also with Mary Ann Fisher), and c) none of the girls have familiar faces.

[Spring of] 1956 'blank' window card for a dance gig, probably at The Black Nest in Nashville.
Publicity photo of Mary Ann Fisher, issued by Shaw Artists (probably from 1957): 
Read this for more on Ray Charles' early iconography, and see this for a photo history of The Raelettes.

Hallelujah I Love Her So will peak at #5 on R&B chart, Mary Ann at #1, Lonely Avenue at #6, Drown In My Own Tears at #1, What Would I Do Without You at #5.

January 1956
One week stay at Kansas City's Orchid Room.
Release of the single Mary Ann / Drown In My Own Tears.

From Cashbox, Mar. 10, 1956.
6 – 8 January 1956
5-4 Ballroom, Los Angeles CA.

Mid - 23 January 1956
Touring for over a week in Texas with Etta James, Joe Turner, Floyd Dixon, and The Clovers, winding up on the 23rd.

16 – 21 January 1956
Private Functions, Dallas.

End of January - into February 1956
The Carolinas and Virginia for three weeks, with The Cadillacs.

Mid February 1956
Billboard news (of 11 February): Ray starts playing spots in New York thru the end of the month - later joined by The Cadillacs ("Not everybody realizes Charles has a real hip, swinging band that can play anything, including progressive jazz, and that he himself will sometimes leave the piano to take a blaring Charlie Parker-ish chorus on the alto sax").

From Billboard, Feb. 18.
Billboard Review Spotlight on Drown In My Own Tears ("dripping wet shouting blues opus") / Mary Ann ("Two warm, wild and wailing sides by the great Ray Charles").

Magnolia Ballroom, Atlanta.
Then moving North, a.o. in Newark.

9 February 1956
Magnolia Ballroom, Atlanta GA.

22 February 1956
At the Egyptian Room of the Schmidt Hotel in Clairton PA.

25 February 1956
Packaged with The Cadillacs for a two-week one-nighter tour of the Carolinas and Virginias.

3 March 1956
Municipal Auditorium, Charleston WV.

11 March 1956
Magnolia Ballroom, Atlanta GA.

27 March 1956
Gig for the "Sensational Blind Vocalist-Pianist" at Clarksville Armory, Clarksville TN.

April 1956
Gig at Palms Club, Hallandale.
Gig at Labor Temple, Louisville (with Mary Ann Fisher; also read this - incorrect - recollection).

4 April 1956

Labor Temple.

7 April 1956
"Jam With Sam" show at the Madison Rink in Chicago IL, emceed by DJ Sam Evans, with Lou Mac, Eddie Rubber Johnson, The Diabolos, The Daps, The Morroccos, and The Kool Gents.
Ad from Chicago Defender, Apr. 7, as collected by Franz Hoffmann, in: Jazz Advertised.
30 April 1956
Recording session for Atlantic in New York

May 1956
A gig in Atlanta.

3 May 1956
At the Egyptian Room of the Schmidt Hotel in Clairton PA.

16 May 1956
Recording session for Atlantic in New York

19 May 1956
Bluesorama show, hosted by WGES' Richard Stanz at Trianon Ballroom in Chicago IL; with The Kool Gents, Eddie Boyd, the 5 Chances, and Muddy Waters; a "World's Blues Championship" of sorts took place, pitting Muddy against Ray Charles; attendance broke existing house records and the cutting contest was judged a draw. The program also included Eddie Boyd, The 5 Chances, The Cool Gents. Also see June 23d.
Ad from Chicago Defender, May 19, as collected by Franz Hoffmann, in: Jazz Advertised.

Billboard Review Spotlight on What Would I Do Without You / Hallelujah, I Love Her So ("two of the fanciest sides yet").
From Billboard, 1956.
From Cashbox, May 26, 1956.
From Cashbox, 1956.
23 May 1956
Trianon Room, Indianapolis IN (2 shows).

28 June 1956

With Joe Johnson in (Dallas?) Texas. See photo here.

30 June 1956
13th Floor Masonic Temple in New Orleans LA.

4 July 1956
Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston TX.

7 July 1956
El Dorado Ballroom, Houston TX.

13 July 1956
On the Chevy Show? See this.

27 - 29 July 1956

5-4 Ballroom, Los Angeles.

Rest of July until October 1956
Playing the chitlin circuit, a.o. in Texas, Louisiana., Alabama, Georgia,  North Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

1 August 1956
Release of the single Lonely Avenue  / Leave My Woman Alone.

9 August 1956
McElroy's Ballroom, Portland OR.

21 August 1956
Labor Temple in Minneapolis MN.

23 August 1956
Trianon Ballroom, Indianapolis IN ("with his celebrated dance band").
Ad and story in Indianapolis Reporter.

1 September 1956
"Jam With Sam" show with Chuck Willis, Nate Nelson of The Flamingos, Jimmy Binkley, The Calvae's, and J.B. Lanore (m.c.'ed by Richard Stamz and Big Bill Hill) at Trianon Ballroom in Chicago IL.
Ad from Chicago Defender, unknown date, as collected by Franz Hoffmann, in: Jazz Advertised.
10 September 1956
Petite Ballroom, Norfolk VA; with "Ida Cox as femme vocalist".

15 September 1956
Billboard Review Spotlight on Lonely Avenue ("a potential splash") / Leave My Woman Alone ("plenty of power here, too").

17 – 22  September 1956
Palms Club, Hallendale Beach FL.

27 September 1956

Recording for Atlantic in New York.

October 1956

Ledger of the Well's Built Hotel in Orlando, October 1956. Coll. Well's Built Museum.

5 October 1956
Dance at Manhattan Casino, St. Petersburg.

29 October 1956
Gleason's Musical Bar in Cleveland OH.

10 November 1956
Billboard Poll ranks Ray #8 on DJs' Favorite R&B Artists list, and #8 on Most Played R&B Artists list.

3 November 1956
Elms Ballroom, Youngstown OH.

17 November 1956
Big concert at Laurel Hill Auditorium in Newark NJ, emceed by Zenas Sears ("the house was s.r.o. and made up of adults primarily").

20? November 1956
Recording session for Atlantic in New York.

26 November 1956
Recording session for Atlantic in New York.
From Billboard, Dec. 8.

28 November 1956

 First feature story, in DownBeat.

7 December 1956
On radio With B.B., The Moonglows, The Magnificents and Rufus Thomas (and Elvis in the audience; don't miss the Wexler quote in the clipping below) at WDIA's 8th Annual Goodwill Revue in Memphis TN. See this.

From Billboard, Dec. 22.

23 December 1956
Big Sunday Night Dance at Labor Union Hall LA in New Orleans.

Ads from Billboard (cut off at sides).

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