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21 August 2010

Ray Charles Is In Town - Chronology 1961

"13,000 persons listened and enjoyed Ray Charles in outdoor concert ... some could not restrain the urge to dance"; from 1962 concert souvenir brochure.

The Raelettes, c. 1961. Clockwise from left: Pat Lyles, Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks. (Collection Joël Dufour).
 The photos above are possibly the earliest publicity photos of The Raelettes, c 1961. Top to bottom: Pat Lyles, Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks. (Collection Joël Dufour).
The Raelettes, c. 1961. From left to right: Margie Hendricks, Pat Lyles, Gwen Berry, Darlene McCrea. (Collection Joël Dufour).
The Raelettes, from the same shoot. From left to right: Pat Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry, Darlene McCrea.  (Collection Joël Dufour).
Double page ad (signed by Ray Charles management, ABC and Shaw Artists) in Billboard, August 4.
Concert in Antibes.

With valet, probably in Paris.
With Mae Mosely-Lyles (aka Saunders). Photo attributed to Jim Marshall. 
With Mae Mosely-Lyles (aka Saunders). Photo attributed to Ole Brask. 
Portrait of Ray Charles, as reproduced on a c. 1969 postcard. Photo attributed to Ole Brask. 

Rehearsing for an ABC recording date, probably in New York; from 1962 concert souvenir program.

Possibly a poster or brochure for (Atlantic?) tour, c. 1961.


Lenny Bruce writes his “Jewish and Goyish” routine, (where soulfulness and Jewishness fit hand-and-glove), which starts off “Dig: I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish.”

"Ray Charles and His Concert Group". From 1961 souverinir brochure "An Evening With Ray Charles".

Born: Raenee Robinson (to Mae Mosely Lyles).
Expanded his group to become a big band.
Hit The Road Jack peaks at #1 on Pop and #1 on R&B charts, One Mint Julep at #8 on Pop and #1 on R&B, Them That Got at #58 on Pop and #10 on R&B,I've Got News For You at #66 on Pop and 8 on R&B, I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town at #84 on Pop.
Dedicated To You peaks at #11 on Pop Album chart, Ray Charles And Betty Carter at #52, Genius + Soul = Jazz at #4, The Genius Sings The Blues at #52, and The Genius After Hours at #49.
From Variety, Jan. 11.
With Hank Crawford.

1 January 1961
Palladium, Hollywood CA; box office gross of $20,000.

2 January 1961
Auditorium Arena, Oakland CA (4,000 people).

13 January 1961
Civic Auditorium, Pasadena CA.
Ad in LA Times, 8 Jan.
Mid to end of January 1961
From San Francisco to Vancouver.
After that, Ray appears too late at a gig in Seattle; deputies "finally put down the riot".
Next stop is Tingly Coliseum in Albuquerque.
From there heading East, and to New York
Gig at City Auditorium (in Memphis?); sharing the bill with James Brown (?).
Concert, at (a) City Auditorium, possibly in Memphis, in 1961 (could also be from Mid August gig). From left to right: David Newman, Hank Crawford, Ray Charles, Leroy Cooper. Photos above and below by Ernest Withers.
Elsewhere, this James Brown photo is described (not cecessarily correctly) as taken "at the Mid-South Coliseum, [...] about 1965".
Riots in Bakersfield in 1961, when a show doesn't go on at the Palais Royale Ballroom. See this.
Release of album Dedicated To You.

From Cashbox, Jan. 28, 1961 (also in Billboard on January 16; both awkwardly late).

Ad from unidentified magazine.
 21 January 1961
Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque NM.

February 1961
Release of albums Soul Meeting – With Milt Jackson, and Genius + Soul = Jazz.
Record company war between Atlantic and ABC...
1/4 page Atlantic ad in Billboard, Feb. 27.

Release of the singles One Mint Julep / Let’s Go (Impulse), and A Bit of Soul / Early In The Morning (Atlantic).
ABC/Impulse full page ad in Billboard, Mar. 6, 1961.

From Cashbox, Mar. 11, 1961.
ABC ad in Billboard, Mar. 27..
8 February 1961
At Penn State Rec(reation) Hall, University Park, PA.
Check this source to follow controversy around Ray's concerts at Penn State in 1961 and 1962.
Ray would already return in May. George E. Pitts wrote in his column in the New Pittsburgh Courier of March 4:
Colleges have become so jazz-minded of late that rock 'n roll has become almost nil. Jazz lectures are a common thing now in most colleges. Jazz clubs have become a predominant part of the college scene.  One such club, at Penn State University, has a name every two or so months like the Modern Jazz Quartet, Kenton, Ellington, and in May they'll have Ray Charles, (we're making that, too). This is just one of the clubs doing this. Now colleges have inter-college jazz contests. Last year the finals were held at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. and were won by a Pittsburgh group, the Charles Bell Contemporary Quartet, which incidently has an album coming out on Columbia soon.


11 February 1961
Nat King Cole publishes a guest column in The New Pittsburgh Courier (invited by George E. Pitts, who wrote the gossip/theatrical column for that paper): "[...] Then there is one young man who, I think, will be with us a long time a fellow by the name of RAY CHARLES who has taken our music business by storm. Years ago RAY CHARLES was on a bill with me in Dallas, Texas and I said then that in time he would really be what he has shown himself to be today. [...]"

18 February 1961
From Izzy's Notebook, a column - titled New Talent Outlook... - in the New Pittsburgh Courier of this day:
Unfortunately, the quest for big names with proven talent, has just about killed off the small proving grounds, which once dotted the night club and theatrical rows of every city in the land. The school of vaudeville chains, the cabaret circuits and the little theatres, have all been snowed under by the constant quest for 'names'. Over my desk, daily pass letters, stories and pictures of believed talented people, with no place to go. The record companies won't record them, radio won't hire them, television won't give them a look see and Hollywood is just a place to dream about. Wherein this holds true for all races, it is particularly so for the brothers and sisters of Ham. In spite of this, there has been a recent breakthrough to starship of outstanding Negro talent. Most of them have been able to establish a beachhead on the horizon of 'marquee lane', with the advent of Rock 'n' Roll.
 This phenomena of modern sound, continues to find a hearing, despite a drive by its detractors. Out of its sharps and flats, such performers as Chubby Checker, Lloyd Price, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Fabian and others, who have been able to establish a niche in the theatrical Hall of Fame. Others, who border on the fringe of the sound like Brook Benton, Della Reese, Jackie Wilson, Clyde McPhatter and Adam Wade among others, have been able to make the grade. The acceptance of the 'beat', has also been responsible for bringing into prominence several talented musicians, who have made their mark on the modern jazz kick, such as Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quintet, Stan Getz, Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis among others. In a world by himself, created by himself is Ray Charles, who has made the scene like perpetual living end. He has zoomed in on the squares and hipsters alike, with a sound that is his own in a soul that is rare.

From a column by John H. McCray, titled 'The Need For Changing', in the same edition:
We live in a neighborhood which has one of these shopping centers, a collection of stores which are currently giving Main St. stores a "fit" over the business Main St. used to draw from suburban residents.
 With teen-agers barreling over the house, drooling over records, tunes, etc., I suppose I'm going through the ordeals of the average American family. This is why, the other day, I found myself at a record center in a shopping center store, looking for another recording by Ray Charles. As proof of how "un-hepped" I am, I'd never heard of Ray Charles until a week or so ago when I'd brought his latest record home, which drew endless "oohs" and "aahs" from my 18-year-old son and, believe it or not, my oldest sister, who is just one year my junior.
 I''d thought to pick up another by Mr. Charles, I'd sort of liked his "Ain't That Just Like a Woman" myself, but that was my secret. The little white woman clerk who came to me didn't know if they had any recordings by Ray Charles left. She called to another woman clerk, who came over and repeated the name Ray Charles? "Oh, yeah," she said, "that's that colored man who sings." There was a silence for a moment. They didn't have one of his records left. I walked to an adjoining counter, lingering at the display of electric lamps. But suddenly, I overheard a bit of heated discussion at the counter I'd just left. The first clerk was saying: "You didn't have to say anything about Ray Charles' race. I knew it and that man (me) also knew it." She had some other words of protest, but all amounting to about the same. I sneaked glances at both of them. The second woman was saying something about "cullud man" and what she was supposed to say, and how she was supposed to act, at the same time trying to get across to the other woman that any Southern white lady of repute doesn't indicate or imply that a man who is not while is ever more than just "cullud."
 "You're dammed stupid, impossible and simple," the first woman was replying. "That day is past now. That man (me) could have made a scene if he wanted to. You didn't have to make him feel bad." Both talked in muted voices, of course, and soon broke it up when another customer came to the record counter. What they did afterwards is but a guess, but a good one is that they got in a few more verbal blows before the day was over. Both women appeared to be born in the South; both had the same enunciation and speech inflection. Why they had different points of view and sensitivity, I don't know, unless it is that we're finally getting through to them with the thought that references to race and color are out of place, and especially when we are customers.

22 February 1961
Municipal Auditorium, Springfield MA. Network TV debut on The Perry Como Show (air date). See this.

24 February 1961
Headlining International Sportmen's Club 2nd Annual Coronation Ball ("all night to dawn") at Rockland Palace in New York City NY (with "his orchestra & Big Revue", Lenny Miles, Chuck Jackson).

25 February 1961
Dillon Gym, Princeton University, Princeton NJ.

"Dillion", with one "i" too many.Promoting ABC Paramount AND Atlantic albums!

Early March 1961
Woolsey Hall, Yale campus, New Haven; police interrupts when black audience starts shouting "Yeah! Yeah!", and a few couples start dancing. Next stop is Magnolia, Atlanta.
A onenighter at the Town House in Pittsburgh ("The magic drawing power of Ray Charles was in evidence last week [...]. The overflow crowd, nearly one-half white, threw out the prevalent notion that the earthly Charles only appeals to Negroes. Walt Harper's combo, playing concert jazz at first, later broke into swinging sounds for the shimmiers and twisters").

Ray was interviewed on WAMO at the Pittsburgh gig (was his performance also broadcast?). From Cashbox, Apr. 22, 1961.
Mid March 1961
At a gig in Augusta Ray refuses to play for a segregated audience, and sticks to that policy (meaning that for years he would only play campus gigs in the South). After that Magnolia, Atlanta, and a 2-week break in LA.

Probably March 1961
Greek House, Tampa.
Clipping from Jet, Mar. 31.

7 March 1961
At Alumni Gym of Dickinson College, Carlisle PA.

12 March 1961
Two "Jazz at its Best" shows at Magnalia Ballroom in Atlanta GA; with Willie Wilson and his Quartette.
Trezzvant W. Anderson wrote in The New Pittsburg Courier (Apr 1):
America's Great High Priest of Jazz, Ray Charles, a native of Georgia - born in Albany, - dealt his home state's racial bias a resounding slap in the face here recently when he cancelled an appearance at big Bell  Auditorium "after learning he was to appear under segregated conditions." (The quotes are from the dynamic Paine College student body's release which activated the drastic and positive 
action of the man who is today considered the highest drawing card in jazz). 
 Mr. Charles had been sent a wire to Atlanta by the Paine College students, headed by . . . Norman, president of the Student Government, but the wire went to the wrong hotel and Mr. Charles didn't get it. 
 On the Wednesday afternoon of the concert, Mr. Charles finally got the telegram, after he had arrived in Augusta.
The students had said: The students at Paine College have some reservations as to your knowledge of the conditions under which you will perform here Wednesday night at Bell Auditorium. We are presently urging Negroes not to support segregated affairs. The dance floor is open only to whites and Negroes are allowed only as spectators in an opposite auditorium." (Signed Student Body Paine College, Augusta, Ga.)
What did the High Priest of Jazz do about this? Well, a representative of the student body contacted Pilot Tom McGarrity, who pilots Mr. Charles' private plane, to confirm a report that the concert had been cancelled.
Here is what happened: Mr. McGarrity informed the student representative that Mr. Charles had checked with the promoter of the concert and found that the conditions stated in the students' wire were true. After learning this, they packed their bags and immediately prepared to leave Augusta. There was a message from the High Priest of Jazz - the blind king of the ballad from Albany, Ga., and it said: "I feel that it is the least that I can do to stand behind my principles and help the students in their fight for their principles." 
 And so, In the lair of Roy V. Harris, another great Negro has stood up and defied the racial bias the national Citizens' Council leader advocates. 
 From Albany, Mr. Charles is another of a distinguished list of Negro leaders who came from that same small South Georgia city, including; Ex-Ambassador Richard Jones, Representative William L. Dawson, dean of Negro Congressmen; Judge Henderson, ILA boss from Norfolk to New Orleans; Sam Solomon, crusader for Negro rights who turned Florida in the thirties; Dr. Jeanne Noble, pretty sorority and educational leader; C. W. King, merchant and business tycoon; Roy Hamilton, the great jazz singer, and many others.
Ad from Atlanta Daily World, Mar. 10.
15 March 1961
On this day Ray was due to perform for a dance at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, but on the day of the show he received a telegram from students of Paine College saying that the larger auditorium dance floor would be restricted to whites while blacks had to sit in the Music Hall. This prompted him to cancel the show, for whichh he was sued by the promoter and was fined $757 in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on June 14, 1962. Read this.
(Some sources also report a concert at the Falkoner Theatre in Copenhagen on this day, but this information is corrupt).

18 March 1961
Spring Jazz Festival on Campbell Field, Campbell Park, St. Petersburg FL ("a huge portable dance floor is being erected for the event"; see this).
On March 20 Mamie Brown, one of the first African-Americans to work for the St. Petersburg Times, wrote:
"The rains came to the Suncoast Saturday night. 
So did recording artist Ray Charles, who literally chased the showers away with hearty vocal and organ renditions of original compositions and other numbers.
An estimated crowd of 2,000 gathered on Campbell Field for the outdoor Spring Jazzy Festival, the first of its type to be staged locally. Earlier in the day city workmen had completed installation of a portable wooden dance floor on the field ...
The event was the second this year in St. Petersburg where the color barrier “dissolved” itself in the wake of admiration for a performer [the first one was Fats Domino]."

Review from St. Petersburg Times.
The anecdote about "Dancin' In The Rain" seems credible!
Ray Charles, posing at his organ (with Marcus Belgrave, Edgar Willis, and Don Wilkerson) in the context of the small band concert at Campbell Park. Photo by St. Petersburg Evening Independent, Ernest Fillyau.
Clipping from a review in the St. Petersburg Times ("the color barrier 'dissolved' itself in the wake of admiration for a performer").
20 March 1961
Ray Jr. finds his father with an arterial bleeding from his hand.

25 March 1961
Convention Hall, Camden (canceled because of hand injury).
From Memphis World, April 8, 1961:
"Blind singer-pianist Ray Charles was forced to cancel a series of cabaret and dance dates here and elsewhere extending through April 7 after be was injured in a freak accident in his home recently, the Associated Negro Press learned.
The accident, the full extent of which was not known at presstime. also threatened his appearance in
a big show in Chicago, April 8-9, where Charles was in share the spotlight with such other top en-
tertainers as pianist Amad Jamal and the Woody Herman orchestra in the big, new ultra-modern Mc-
Cormick Place lakefront hall. However, the Chicago promoters, apparently still hopefull that Charles will appear, kept his name on the program.
Charles, lamed for his rendition of the jazz tune Georgia and others he helped populariz[ing] was
injured when he slipped and fell on a cake of soap in the bathtub of his home in Los Angeles.
He was to play a dance date here Saturday (March 25), but the promoters were forced to make refunds to fans who had purchased some $5,000 worth of, tickets in advance. The dance was to be held in Convention Hall.
All that is known of the injury so far is that Charles was knocked unconscious by the fall and suffered a turn ligament in his right hand It was feared he might have to refrain from playing the piano for a while."

26 March 1961
Pyramids, Baltimore. Postponed (see 14 May).

April 1961
Forms his first, "temporary" big band with the help of Quincy Jones, for a 3-weeks tour in the U.S. With Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt, E.V. Perry, Lammar Wright (tp); Henderson Chambers, Calvin Jones, Grachan Moncur III, Julian Priester (tb); Hank Crawford, Rudy Powell (as); David Newman, Don Wilkerson (ts); Sonny Forriest (g); Edgar Willis (b); Bruno Carr (dm); Betty Carter (vo); (precise line-up of Raelettes unknown).

 April - May 1961
On Hal Zeigler tour with extended big band; a.o. St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago; ending at Carnegie Hall.
From Variety, Mar. 29.
Unidentified venue; photo possibly taken during this tour.

1 April 1961
Music Hall, Kansas City (gross $11,618).

2 April 1961

Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis MO (gross $18,420). "The first two dates of the Ray Charles tour has hit bonanza proportions", Hal Zeiger said in Variety (Apr. 5).

5 April 1961
'A Salute To Genius' at the Murat Theater, Indianapolis IN (2 shows; with Betty Carter).

6 April 1961
Orpheum Theater in Wichita KS ("with an injuured left hand, played the organ principally with his right and also relied on his foot pedal work").

8 – 9 April 1961
From Chicago Tribune, Mar. 26.
McCormick Place, Chicago IL; with Betty Carter and his "augmented orchestra" (his two days in Chicago gross $34,000 with tickets costing up to $4,00; an announcement in Billboard from 6 March places him at McCormick's from 2 to 14 April [sic!], "as part of his Midwest concert tour"; an article in the Atlanta Daily World of 5 April specified that "Charles was to share the spotlight with [...] Amad Jamal and the Woody Herman orchestra").
From Jet, April 20, 1961.

With Hank Crawford and Phil Guilbeau. Photos by Ted Williams.

11 April 1961
Music Hall, Kansas City MO.

12 April 1961
Development Council Jazz Concert at Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI.

Ad in Billboard, April 24.
Wins four Grammy Awards at the 3rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremonies in New York.

From Broadcasting Magazine, Apr. 17.

From Variety, Apr. 19.

15 April 1961
For a "standing room only" crowd at the the Masonic Temple in Detroit MI, "with a big band, the singing Raelets and Betty Carter"; tickets cost $4.00; grosses $14,136; Joe Adams hired as emcee.

16 April 1961
Music Hall, Cleveland OH (gross $8,429).
From Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 Apr.
Early discussion on definition of 'soul music', in article by Ralph Gleason in Cleveland Plain Dealer, 29 April.
21 April 1961
Music Hall, Cincinnati OH (gross $13,611). "This is the first time the group [i.e. the large big band, BS] is playing in pure concert form", the University of Cincinnati News Record announced on 30 March.
Ad reproduced from University of Cincinnati News Record, Mar. 30.

22 April 1961
Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh PA (gross $15K in 2 shows).

23 April 1961
Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus OH (gross $10, 054).

28 April 1961
For thousands of fans at the Washington Coliseum (aka The Uline Arena), Washington DC.

29 April 1961
Two shows at Symphony Hall, Boston.
Ad from Boston Globe, 9 Apr.
30 April 1961
An Evening With Ray Charles at Carnegie Hall in New York City NY (gross $15,430). "Evening With Seven Songs", Jet remarked; double concert (with small band, big band, and Betty Carter), both sold out. Billboard from 1 May: "His immediate plans call for a well-deserved rest before returning to his concert work". A review in the New York Times of May 1 makes clear that the concert part of the intermission was filled by "the seven-piece instrumental group with whch Mr. Charles normally works". Review in New York Amsterdam News of May 6 specifies Roy Haynes as drummer (replacing Bruno Carr). Review in Variety (May 3): "The first portion of the bill had an Apollo Theatre flavor. A seven-piece combo billed as 'The Original Small Ray Charles Band' held the stage for over 40 minutes dishing out a fair jazzy style [...]. Joe Adams emceed the show with a group of flowery adjectives that haven't been heard on stage in a long time."
First known photo of Joe Adams and Ray Charles together (from Jet magazine).
May 1961
Release of the single Am I Blue / It Should Have Been Me.
Ad in Billboard, Jul. 3.
14 May 1961

Pyramids, Baltimore MD (see 26 March).

20 May 1961
On this day the New Pittsbourgh Courier reported:
Pittsburgher Edgar Willis, basist with Ray Charles, is gigging in his hometown since Charles had to take time off to care for his injured hand. The blind singer who cut his hand in a fall in the bathtub, carried the mitt in a cast to make concert appearances, removing the cast only when onstage. He also carried a personal physician to administer painkilling shots so he could play the piano, but the ordeal became too great and further treatment and a possible operation are necessary.

2 - 11 June 1961
Around this date: 10 nights at Zebra Lounge, Los Angeles CA. Nancy Sinatra in the audience on the 8th, celebrating her 21st birthday, with her mother and her then husband, Tommy Sands. She remembers, "So we are sitting there waiting for the show to start and somebody says, 'What's going on? Where is Ray?' It seems Ray was outside in his car waiting for his money before he would go on. There were grumpy people left but we stayed until the man came on. It was worth every minute of fidgeting. He was so good I cried. My mom loved him too." Source here.
Recording album with Betty Carter.

After that a week at the Apollo, and held there for a second week. Schiffman index card: "percentage", "Excellent show. Business was not quite what we expected".

Release of album The Genius After Hours and the single I've Got News For You / I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town.

14 – 29 June 1961
From Variety, Jun. 21.
Apollo, New York City NY (heldover of 1 week) with Joe Adams (!), The Coasters, Jimmie Scott, Willie Lewis, The Little Angels (invited by Ray after 'seeing' them in a TV show in California), Betty Carter, The Jazztet (with Art Farmer). The [probably: Hammond] organ being mentioned makes it feasible that this show was played with the 'augmented' big band (also cf. ad for Regal gig, below).
Ad in New York Amsterdam News, June 24.

30 June 1961
Arena, New Haven CT.

July 1961
Release of album Ray Charles and Betty Carter.

2 July 1961
Ray was announced in an early ad for the Music at Newport Festival, but didn't appear there.
Ad from Hartford Courant, 30 Apr.
Festival's program brochure: no Ray.

3 July 1961
Rhythm & Blues Festival, Atlantic City NJ. Draws check of $5,000 for performance ("between 6,000 and 8,000 screaming fans staged a riot [...] when Charles was four hours late [...]. It took fully a half-hour to roll Charles' organ through the dense crowd to the stage. Charles, waring dark shades and sport clothes, was unpertubed by the chaos his tardiness had caused. 'I was at a recording session in New York,' he explained [...], 'and the fellows were late getting through"); cf.this.

4 July 1961
Recording session in New York, and "Cabaret and Dawn".

5 July 1961
Records I'm Movin' On in LA.

 7 – 12 July 1961
Regal Theatre in Chicago IL, with The Jazztet, The Coasters, Little Jimmy Scott and Betty Carter. Ray gets involved in drugs arrest on July 8, but he successfully hides his stash under his dental bridge; he misses 2 shows).

Ad from Chicago Defender, July 8, as collected by Franz Hoffmann, in: Jazz Advertised.
From Chicago Tribune, Jul. 9.
From Schenectady Gazette, Jul. 9.
14 July 1961
Melody Skateland, Indianapolis IN with "augmented orchestra", Betty Carter and "The Singing Raelets" (11 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.).

18 July 1961
Lands on Orly Airport, Paris. See this.
The Raelettes after landing; f.l.t.r. Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks, Pat Lyles, Darlene McCrea.
Ray Charles after landing, with promoter Henri Goldgran. Photos (c) Associated Press, who attribute the date 24 May 1961, and erroneously connect that with concerts at The Olympia.

This pic, with Goldcran and Johnny Haliday, comes from the Paris Match archives,and is dated in 1962. 
Photos: Getty Images.

20 - 23 July 1961
Jazz à Juan, Antibes (four concerts were filmed and taped for radio). See this.

Magazine cover from March '62.

Collector's card issued by Poulain chocolates. Coll. Joël Dufour.

 Portrait prob. taken at Count Basie concert in Juan-les-Pins (cut from Vega cover of 45 RPM single of Hit The Road Jack). Photo prob. by Jean-Pierre Leloir. 
From the same series; cover of Rallye, May 1963. (Coll. A. Monnot).
Photo clipped from French ABC release, possibly also by Jean-Pierre Leloir.

Last week July 1961
Concerts in Zurich and Lyon (these were postponed to October; see there). Jet magazin also mentioned a concert at the Cannes Jazz Festival.

29 July 1961 (or 30th?)
Parc Biron, Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium.

30 July 1961
Ocean Beach, New London CT.

31 July - 2 August 1961
PR for gig at Smalls Paradise; the model is Elena Bowe.
Three days at Smalls Paradise, Harlem, New York City NY; read this.
Ad in New York Amsterdam News, Jul. 27.
August 1961
Release of the single Hit The Road Jack / The Danger Zone. See this and this.

3 August 1961
Elks Auditorium, Los Angeles CA, with "The Cookies, Atlantic recoding Artists who will be playing their first Los Angeles date".

4 to 10 August 1961 
Howard Theatre, Washington DC; with Betty Carter, The Jazztet, Clarence Henry, Art Farmer. Benny Golson, Slim Harpo.
Ad from Washington Post.

12 August 1961
Memorial Auditorium, Rochester NY.

Mid August 1961
Graystone Ballroom, Detroit.

17 August 1961
Forum, Wichita KS. It seems as if this tour is with the small big band again.

Around this time in 1961
Queens College, Charlotte, NC (with small big band).
Nat Speir, an eye witness, wrote: "Ray Charles and The Raelettes [...] performed at Queens College in Charlotte, NC for a state-wide sorority council spring dance. Too few tickets had been sold, so some of us lucky Myers Park sophomores were invited to attend the show. What an experience, watching my hero, David "Fathead" Newman! It was a giant step in my understanding of what great musicians can do!  Talking to The Raelettes at the break, we learned that Ray had decided not to do any more segregated shows. This may have been one of his last "white only" performances. I looked around at the sea of white faces that night and became more aware how segregated my world was."
Mr. Spear also shared the pictures below (among the earliest 'live' color photos!). Although the concert seemingly was with the small band only, Brother Ray was playing the Hammond organ!

Leroy Cooper, David Fathead Newman, Hank Crawford, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Guilbeau.

20 (and 21?) August 1961
Integrated gig at Ellis City Auditorium, Memphis TN.

From Jet magazine, Aug. 14.
From Variety, Aug. 23.
The New Pittsburgh Courier wrote on September 2:
Last week down in Memphis, Ray Charles scratched a niche for himself in the history book of our times, when he became the first to ply his talent before an integrated audience in the heart of the segregated South. It was a dual victory. Even the "for colored only" signs in front of the ladies and men's rest rooms were discarded for his performance at the auditorium. Though blind, the "soul" singing pianist, was well aware that the entire house was well mixed looking like what a human American flag should. Another significant angle of the affair was that it was promoted by William Mitchell, owner of the Club Handy, who's also colored. It might be of interest to those died-in-the-wool segregationists to know that there were no incidents of any kind, as people, whom they said would never do it, sat side by side and exchanged the oohs and aahs of those caught up in the ecstasy of unadulterated good singing.
F.l.t.r. David Newman, Hank Crawford, Ray Charles, Leroy Cooper. Photo by Ernest C. Withers. Source says the picture is from December 1961.

22 August 1961
Barton Coliseum, Little Rock AR.

27 August 1961
"By irresistible demand" a "dance and concert" ("and his entertainers"!) at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood CA.

From a 1962 souvenir program: "A dance at the Hollywood Palladium featuring Ray Charles and his Orchestra is a sure way of getting Hollywood's greatest names in for an evening of pleasure".
From Variety, Aug. 30.

September 1961
Release of album The Genius Sings The Blues and the single Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) / Ray's Blues (I Wonder Who).

Early September 1961
1 week of rehearsals for the concert "A Salute to Genius" (on September 10) at the Hollywood Bowl (with Raelettes, Ray Charles Orchestra, 19-piece string section and 12-voice chorus).

1 September 1961
Moore's Theatre, Seattle.

2 September 1961
Memorial Coliseum, Portland OR.

9 September 1961
At Russ Auditorium in San Diego CA.

10 September 1961

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles CA ("A crowd of 500 teen-agers rioted [...], in a frenzy over music of the Ray Charles Quintet, police said. They were among an audience of more than 6,000. Some of the screaming youngsters organized a 'dance group' and staged what police said were objectionable dances. Ten arrests were made on various charges"; source here). (PosterCentral first placed this poster in 1967, and later in 1961 - as a "mystery": how can a 1961 poster carry the titles of a mid-1962 hit? Only, I'm sorry to say, when it's a forgery!)

From a '62 souvernir program.

22 – 27 September 1961
RKO Palace Theatre, New York City NY ("Ray Charles and Sarah Vaughan bring big-time vaudeville back [...], in a continuous-performance bill produced by Sid Bernstein and John Drew"). The series were a disaster. See clippings and read this.

From Variety, Sep. 27.
From Variety, Oct. 4.
From Variety, Oct. 18.

29 September 1961
Symphony Hall, Boston MA.

1 October 1961
Ocean Beach, New London CT.
Ad from Hartford Courant, 24 Sep.
6 - 12 October 1961
Stageshow the "Show Of Stars" at the Fox Theatre in Detroit MI; with Fabian, Gloria Lynn, Timi Turo, Shep And The Limelights, The Dorells, and Dave Astor, combined with movie "Thunder Of Drums" (expected gross $30,000).
Ad in Detroit Free Press.
Show brochure.
Invoice for 24 (probably: radio)spots.
14 October 1961
Civic Center Auditorium, Lansing.
Ad in the State Journal, Oct. 11.

14 October 1961
Commonwealth Armory, Boston MA.

15 October 1961
Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo NY.

18 October 1961
The complete big band entourage on October 17th or 18th, leaving for their first European tour (with Henri Goldgran). From Cashbox, Nov. 4, 1961.
If the band members are all identified correctly in the caption, this photo was probably taken during the first Europe tour of the big band.

Transfer flight at Orly Airport, Paris.

Interviewed on Orly. Photos by Keystone/Getty.
18 October 1961
Kongresshaus, Zurich. See this.
Ad from the Hans Philippi Collection (curated by Mario Schneeberger).

19 October 1961
Palais des Congrès, Lyon (Ray on piano).

Review from Le Progrès (de Lyon), Oct. 20.

20 – 22 October 1961

Ticket stub for evening show on 21st, coll. Jacques Merle.

Souvenir brochure, cover.

Palais Des Sports, Paris (of course Marlene Dietrich did not really perform during the intermission).
(c) Rex Features.

The concert on 22 October was recorded, and - much later - released on a bootleggish CD; cf. here. Read this on riots. More photos here.


Photos by Claude Azoulay (some unpublished) for Paris Match.

From same shoot?

At a reception, with assistant, Raita Johnson and Hank Crawford.
Backstage, with Henri Goldgran and unidentified man.
At the Palais des Sports, with assistant and Raita Johnson.

Oct. 21. Photos (c) Getty Images.

Photo by Philippe Gras.
With Hank Crawford; Raelettes (with Margie's profile just visible) in the background. 

Photos by Jean-Pierre Leloir.
From c 1963 souvenir program.


These photos with Raita Johnson, published in Ciné Télé-Revue and Paris Match in November 1961, were probably shot during Ray's stay in Paris in October.

Ray Charles, crouching upon the floor of a store with a toy locomotive in his hands while a fascinated reporter looks on. Possibly in Paris. On the verso the photo is numbered and identified, most likely by the photographer: "'Now Watch It Go' Ray tries the train out on the floor of the shop". The photo bears the blacked-out stamp credit of Paul Slade (1924-1979), the Brooklyn-born, American photographer who was the U.S. correspondent for Paris-Match for more than 25 years. This photo, part of Ray Charles' estate [sic?!], was auctioned by Chrities. Source.

27 October 1961

Stars of Tomorrow Show and Dance at the New York Coliseum, New York City NY ("16 piece orchestra and the Raylettes", with Mungo Santa Maria, Willie Bobo, Jose Mangual and his Afro Jazziacs).

November 1961
Release of the single Unchain My Heart / But On The Other Hand, Baby.
Tiny 1 column ad by ABC, 2 column ad by Atlantic, in Billboard, Nov. 27.

(Before mid) November 1961
Gig in Cleveland OH, interviewed backstage by Bill Clark from Cincinnati-based WCIN.
From Cashbox, Nov. 18, 1961.

3 November - Mid December 1961
Booked for 6 weeks of one-nighters, starting at Troy in New York, winding up in Denver by Mid-December.

3 November 1961
RPI Field House in Troy NY.

4 November 1961
Junior Prom at Armory Gymnasium, MIT, Cambridge MA.
From the collegial MIT newspaper, The Tech (Nov. 8).

5 November 1961
Onondaga War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse NY.

12 November 1961
Ray checks in at the Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel in Indianopolis (the band stays at the Claypool Hotel across the street). Receives call where someone offers him drugs.

13 November 1961
Private function, Anderson.
Then at the Wigwam (the new high school's gym) in Anderson.
After the concert Ray is brought back to his room in Indianopolis. The bandmates leave to see Aretha Franklin perform at the Pink Poodle. Ray gets high in his hotel room.

14 November 1961
The police knocks on his door at 9:00 a.m., and find heroin and weed. Ray is arrested and brought to police headquarters, where he is interrogated, photographed and fingerprinted. Police lets reporters in to shoot photos and questions.

Detective Sgt. William Owen confronts Ray with narcotics and equipment seized in his Indianapolishotel room.
15 November 1961
Ray released on $130 cash bond in the morning.

Gig at Evansville Coliseum, Evansville IN.
*possibly also:*
Private function, Evansville.
France 1 news has 20 second news clip of Ray Charles, “Arrêté Pour Trafic De Drogue”. See this.

16 November 1961
Appears (defended by attorney Dave Lewis) before judge Ernie S. Burke at Minicipal Court in Indianopolis, who drops the "common addict" charge and sets Ray's trial date on the drug possession charge for January 4, 1962, releasing Ray on a $1,000 bond.
Photos top by Houston Dickie. From front page of Indianapolis Recorder, Nov. 18:
"Ray Charles, nationally known blind singer whose current hit recording is 
Hit The Road Jack, is shown doing just that (left photo) as he is led from the City Lockup at police headquarters by Patrolman R.L. Sheppard following his release Tuesday on $1,250 bond on two counts of narcotics violations. Charles was arrested in his Sheraton-Lincoln hotel room by narcotics detectives who said they had a tip that the famous musician-composer-singer had brought a large quantity of narcotics from Anderson, where he and his orchestra were appearing. In photo at right, Charles (with back to camera) appears as the Headless Horseman as he uses his coat to shield his face from photographers while signing release papers at the information desk. Others in the photo are his manager, Jeff Brown, and his attorney, H. Perry Smith."
"Some have it easy. Take Ray Charles, the original 'Mr. Soul'. He can throw a place into a panic - by just walking through the door, as he demonstrated the other day when we met for a talk at the Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel. Short, uncommonly handsome, more like a preacher than a blues-singing Georgia-born orphan boy. But the hotel crowd knew him instantly. There were quick gasps of recognition, followed by a stunned silence, then by an excited buzz-buzz-buzz. I haven't seen so much commotion since Jackie Wilson got caught at the Coliseum with his shirt off.
We had barely settled at a table when a feminine voice cried 'Ray' and Charles rose hurriedly to meet an encircling embrace from songstress Lori Wilson, who was in town visiting from Chicago. 'I was going up to my room and the doorman here said 'Miss Wilson, Ray Charles is upstairs,' and I just had to say hello.' She explained [...] that she worked for three weeks with Ray at a Chicago nightclub a year ago [...].
Even the most casual Charles fan was hurt over what had been reported. Yet despite such behavior, we believe Charles' fans are fiercely protective toward him, and unflinchingly loyal. [...Ray] managed to surround himself with sympathetic music lovers who will exert themselves to the full to maintain the public acceptance [...]."

Several of these photo were made by Rick Johnson.

Ray with Jeff Brown.

For well researched story on the arrest, with many more details, read this.
After that flying to Nashville, joining the band, for concert at Adelphia State Fair Coliseum, Nashville TN. 

19 November 1961
Scheduled for Ed Sullivan Show in New York, but canceled because of drug bust. See this.

25 November 1961
Municipal Auditorium, Austin TX.

27 November 1961
Memorial Auditorium, Dallas TX.

December 1961

Cover of French Jazz Magazine, December '61. Photo by Jean-Pierre Leloir.

Emory College, Atlanta (4,000 white fans at private fraternity fair).

Release of the film Swingin' Along. Ray & Raelettes perform What'd I Say and Sticks And Stones. See this.

1 December 1961
At unidentified venue in New Orleans LA. 

3 December 1961
Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio RX.

9 December 1961
Concert at Southern Methodist University in Dallas canceled (because of Indianapolis arrest; see next date).  

10 December 1961
State Fair Music Hall, Dallas TX (3,500 tickets; "Charles drew an ovation as he performed for an hour, grinning broadly while on stage" (Variety, Nov. 22).

24 December 1961
Christmas night dance at Oakland Auditorium, Oakland CA.

29 December 1961
Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco CA (grossed $12,000). After concert, waiting for chauffeur:

Photos by Jim Marshall.

Photo by Jim Marshall, possibly shot at this same concert.

30 December 1961
At Russ Auditorium in San Diego CA.

31 December 1961
Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles CA; with Betty Carter (with "his augmented orchestra"; "musical arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns").




Concerts in or around 1961.

Portraits probably shot in France, c. 1961.
John Hunt and Phil Guilbeau, c 1961, location unknown.
Quincy Jones and Ray Charles (from '62 souvenir program).
European impresario Henry Goldgran and Ray Charles (from '62 souvenir program). 


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  2. Wow !!!! this is awesome !! so glad that someone is keeping up with music history.The music of that generation has a lot of respect!!!! ( it does not talk under the women clothes or tell you to harm peace offices ) the music of his time talked about love. Hats off to you Charles !!!!!!! :-)

  3. I saw Ray Charles and the Raylettes in Baltimore in 1960. I was a 13 year-old Jewish girl from Northwest Baltimore who had no clue about music other than the Mario Lanza records my parents listened to.

    Somehow, I had met an 18 year-old boy who was a member of Sigma Epsilon Delta, a high school fraternity for white boys. He asked me to go with him to a Ray Charles Concert that was sponsored (or so he said) by his fraternity. Understand—that means that the audience was all white. I think everyone there was either thunderstruck (like me), or confused. They just stood there. Nobody danced!

    The venue was a ballroom at an amusement park called Carlin’s (or maybe it was Gwyn Oaks). I stood with my date at the front of the crowd. On the stage just above me were the Raylettes, dressed in green satin and rhinestone strapless dresses. They moved in choreographed synchronization throughout the concert. When Ray moaned “uh-uh, oh-oh, uh, uh, oh-oh” and followed with, “tell me what’d I say,” the Raylettes echoed him. To me it was a pulsing version of the prayers I heard in my synagogue, where the Rabbi intoned a line and the congregation answered. But Ray Charles and the Raylettes presented me with something I hadn’t heard before. I didn’t know what to call it, but I recognized it as if it were something I used to know a long time ago. It sliced right down to my core.

    I found out that the songs from that night were on a newly released album that I bought as soon as I could: What’d I Say, The Night time is the Right Time, Lonely Avenue are those that are prominent in my memory.

    Unusual as it was for a little white girl from Northwest Baltimore, that night is something for which I will always be grateful. It changed my life, opening to me the world of blues, jazz, and African American culture. My love of blues started then and has never stopped.

    I have searched online in vain for mention of this concert, but to no avail. It would be wonderful to see a program or advertisement for it.