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31 August 2010

Ray Charles Is In Town – Chronology 1985

Mid 1980s

With Charles Aznavour, c. 1985. Who knows more (when, where, why, photographer)?

Photos by Arnold Williams.

At anidentified venue, by unidentified photographer.

Portrait by Robert Davis - mid '80s.
Publicity photo from mid '80s.
Unidentified gig, early - mid '80s.
Possibly in France, mid 1980s.

Circa 1985, possibly shot in France.

Production of Norman Seeff's The Sessions Project with Ray. The second photo has become famous. See this.

Photos by Norman Seeff.
Rest materials from the same shoot.
With Quincy Jones, probably picking up another award somewhere.
Concert in Portland. Photo by Ross William Hamilton.
With Quincy Jones (according to caption, taking a break during a recording session).

Seven Spanish Angels (with Willie Nelson) peaks at #1 on the Country Chart , It Ain't Gonna Worry My Mind (with Mickey Gilley at #12 on Country, Two Old Cats Like Us (with Hank Williams, Jr.) at #14 on Country.
The Spirit Of Christmas peaks at #42 on the Country Album Chart.
Ray is the central figure in a multimedia campaign for the National Organization On Disability. See this.

He also tapes the tune for a new series of Maxwell House commercials. See this.

Ray is featured in the documentary Jazz Greats At The Montreal International Jazz Festival, presented by Oscar Peterson. See this.
At some date during the year, Ray is the subject of a photo shoot in The Sessions Project (videotaped). See this.

Intriguing recording session: what's that sign with "Black and Decker" doing there?
See comments for explanation (it happened in '84).

10 January 1985
On The Early Show, item about Everyday (I Have The Blues) with Tony Bennet. See this.

19 January 1985
Performing at Fiftieth American Presidential Inaugural Gala, White House, Washington DC. See this.

28 January 1985
Records (with two dozen other artists) We Are The World in Hollywood. See this.

February 1985

Release of album Friendship.
Industry ad for Friendship album.

Mid-February 1985
Release of a video clip of Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, performing Seven Spanish Angels. See this.

7 March 1985
Starring in The Nashville Network 2nd Anniversary Show, recorded in New York (aired 20 April 1985). See this.

15 March 1985
Live And Kicking, show at Variety Playhouse, Atlanta. See this.

22 - 24 March 1985
Subbing for Dolly Parton (who fell ill), in concert with Kenny Rogers at Rosemont Horizon (Chicago).

April 1985
Release of the single It Ain't Gonna Worry My Mind (with Mickey Gilley) / Crazy Old Soldier (with Johnny Cash).

Photos by Joe Adams, possibly taken at studio session for Crazy Old Soldier.
Johnny Cash, Billy Sherrill, Ray Charles.
22 April 1985
Performing at Coca Cola marketing event at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. See this.

15 May 1985
Atlanta GA.

22 - 24 May 1985
Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont IL.

24 May 1985
Smoking a last cigarette before performing somewhere in France (air date of s news item, probably announcing Ray’s tour in July). See this.

28 May 1985
For a captive audience of 1,400 inmates at women's jail of the Sybil Brand Institute, Los Angeles CA ("If it brings a little happiness, a little soul, he's happy," said Joe Adams).

29 May 1985
Performing at Irving Berlin's 100th Birthday Salute. See this.

30 May to 2 June 1985
Metropolitan Opera House, New York City NY.

3 - 5 June 1985
Crazy Horse, Santa Ana CA.

8 June 1985
Shubert Performing Arts Center, New Haven CT. Photo here.

9 June 1985
JVC Jazz Festival at Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls OH.
Photo by John Corbett; possibly on this date.

10 June 1985
Live broadcast of 19th Annual Music City News Country Awards at Opry House in Nashville. See this.
Ray Charles performing with The Oak Ridge Boys.

13 June 1985
Arena Theater, Houston TX ("That isn't to say he short-changes an audience, but he does go for the broadest audience appeal. It may be entirely in order for a man to rest on his laurels a bit after he has showed that there is no single ``right'' way to sing pop, jazz, rock, show tunes, r & b, country or even gospel, as long as the soul is in it. [Ray Charles] couldn't give a cookie-cutter performance if he tried, because he long ago threw away the mold. But at the Arena Theater Thursday, he gave a conservative performance - one perhaps reflecting the way Ray Charles feels now. It was made tamer by the stage presentation in the round, so that the stage turned slowly one complete revolution during the concert").

15 June 1985
Reunion (Dallas Convention Center) Arena, Dallas TX with Tanya Tucker.

20 June 1985
Photo by Vince Mannino.
Visits Ronald Reagan in Oval Office, Washington; lobbying for National organisation for the Disabled. Photos here and here; for TV news item see this.

21 June 1985
Kool Jazzfest, Opera House, Boston MA.

22 June 1985
Talking with President Reagan in the Oval office, on behalf of national organization for the disabled.

26 June 1985
Kool Jazz Festival, Avery Fisher Hall in New York, with The Commodores; tickets at $15-$25.
Saenger Performing Arts Theater, New Orleans.
Ad from The Times-Picayune New Orleans, 14 Jun.
Photo by Harold Baquet.

On or around 4 July 1985
Ft. in TV show The Statue Of Liberty (the date is a conjecture). See this.

4 July 1985
Brother Ray: A Tribute To Ray Charles on KCRW (4 parts, first air date 4 or 5 July), hosted by Roger Steffens. See this.

Concert at Veiled Prophet Fair in St. Louis MO.

5 July 1985
Two shows at the Vic Theatre, Chicago IL.

Around this time in July 1985
Photos by Gerard Amsellem/Topfoto.

10 July 1985
Double concert at Palais des Congrès, Paris.

Musicians: Mark Curry, Bobby Rodriguez, Jim Seeley, Jeff Kaye - trumpets; Dan Levine, Steve Baxton, Delfeayo Marsalis, Dana Hughes - trombones; Clifford Solomon - alto saxophone, bandleader; Brian Mitchell - alto saxophone; Rudy Johnson, Ricky Woodard - tenor saxophones; Louis Van Taylor - bariton saxophone; Paul Kreibich - drums; Jeff Pevar - guitar; Roger Hines - bass; Ernest Vantrease - electric piano, organ. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchell, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.

11 July 1985
Zephyr Stade des Corguettes, Cassis.

12 July 1985

Sportpark, Hannover DE.

Photos: Imago/ZUMA.

14 July 1985
North Sea Jazz Festival, Congresgebouw, The Hague.

17 July 1985
Montpellier (air date of news item). See this.

Xe Int Jazz Fest, Arènes de Nîmes. See this.

Ticket stub, coll. Jacques Merle.
Photo by Jacques Merle.

Around this day in July 1985
JVC Capital Jazz Parade in London.

From NME, Aug. 10.

20 July 1985
Jazz à Juan, Antibes. See this.
Cover Antibes Festival program.

21 July 1985
Festival de Jazz, Velódromo de Anoeta, San Sebástián.

22 July 1985
Plaça de Braus, Girona.

23 July 1985
Foro Italico, Rome.

24 July 1985
Four Roses Jazz Festival, Rome, on the Tiber ("amplification was reduced by order of the Roman magistrate"; read review here).

31 July 1985
Warwick Musical Theatre (Tent), Warwick RI.

August 1985
Release of the single Two Old Cats Like Us (with Hank Williams Jr.) / Little Hotel Room (with Merle Haggard).

2 Aug 1985
Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills MI.

3 August 1985
Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis IN.

4 August 1985
Newport Jazz Festival, at South Shore Music Circus, Cohasset MA; with Rebecca Parris.

5 August 1985
Mann Music Center, Philadelphia PA; with B.B. King.

6 August 1985
Clemens Performing Arts Center, Mark Twain Festival Summer '85, Elmira.

7 August 1985
Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts, Westport CT.

12 August 1985
Rockefeller's, Houston TX.

16 August 1985
Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater FL.

29 August 1985
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood CA; with B.B. King.

30 August 1985
The Majestic Ventura Theatre, Ventura CA.

30 and 31 August 1985
Concerts by the Bay at Humphrey's, San Diego CA (4 sold out shows). Review here.

4 September 1985
Sherwood Hall, Salinas CA.

5 September 1985
Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup WA.

6 - 9 September 1985 
First of five sold out concerts at Paul Mason winery in Saratoga CA.
Jesse Hamlin reviewed the first show in the San Francisco Chronicle of 7 September:
"A great soul singer can wring feeling out of almost any song. Ray Charles could turn a hairspray jingle into a hymn. Every sound that leaps or seeps from the throat of Ray Charles carries emotion. Even when he inhales a deep breath, it's music. The 'legendary genius of soul'' - one of the few overblown showbiz titles that actually hits the mark - preached the gospel according to Ray from a Saratoga mountaintop Thursday night.
His 90-minute [...] concert [...] was thrilling. Charles churned the heart with his grunts, shouts, whispers, soul-brother yodels, falsetto cries and gnarled sighs. And he dug a deep gospel groove that swayed and rocked all night. He came out in a black-and-white candy-striped jacket that would've looked perfect on gambler Benny Southstreet in 'Guys and Dolls'.
 He stood sightless before the cheering audience, hugging himself and swaying side to side while rolling his head and smiling a full-moon smile.
He sat down at the grand piano and plunged into a soul session that overflowed with warmth and feeling. His feet and torso never stopped weaving and stomping and sliding around the piano.
He did his standard repertoire - everything from his epic 'Georgia'' to his jazzified and exalted 'Oh, What a Beautiful Morning'. As always, his phrasing and inflection sounded new.
One was struck again by his ability to fill the slightest sigh or groan with meaning. He moved through the uncharted emotional territory where sadness and joy become inseparable. His voice often throbbed with a sound that hovered between a laugh and a sob.  You could taste the 'salty tears'' of 'How Long Has This Been Going On', and he sang 'She Knows' with a gritty vulnerability that was exquisite in its raw beauty.
The 17-piece Ray Charles orchestra backed him superbly. It is as polished and powerful as the best jazz band, with superior soloists like alto saxophonist Clifford Solomon, who led the band through several fine Basie and Ellington-inspired arrangements before Ray took the pulpit. Late in the show, Charles brought on the four foxy Raelettes - 'Now it's time to add a little femininity to the show'' - but their synchronized charm soon wore off. Their contribution to 'I Can't Stop Loving You'' was lovely, and a steaming call-and-response number with the boss worked wonderfully. But their mechanical choreography made them look a little like black wind-up Barbie dolls, and their other numbers added nothing to what was otherwise a spectacular show."

10 September 1985
Silva Hall (Hult Center) for the Performing Arts, Eugene OR.

22 September 1985
Civic Auditorium, Portland.

13 September 1985
On Smokey Robinson's Motown Revue show (air date; see this).

Unidentified event in 1983 - with Smokey Robinson.

17 September 1985
Tri-State Fair, State Fair Park Coliseum, Amarillo TX.

20 September 1985
Macon's Grand Opera House, Atlanta GA.

21 September 1985
Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton FL; tickets at $15.

22 September 1985
8th Georgia Music festival, at Stone Mountain Park's Memorial Plaza Stage, Stone Mountain GA (more than 4,000 people).

27 Sep 1985
Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Clinton MI.

28 September 1985
Miller Auditorium, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI.

29 September 1985
Gordie's Double Play, Phoenix for Blast From The Past Family Picnic show with Martha Reeves and The Vandellas ("the crowd was shockingly small") at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, Phoenix AZ; see this and this.

Photo by Terry Wilson.
From an Ebay ad: suit jacket, custom made by Parkway Clothes, Los Angeles (1985): "much evidence of sweat stains on the inner satin - particularly under the arms".

3 to 6 October 1985
Metro Park, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Jacksonville FL.

10 October 1985
James L. Knight Center, Miami FL (rescheduled from 18 November); tickets at $10.

14 October 1985
Mechanics Hall, Worcester MA.

Photos of a concert in Worcester, possibly on this date.

19 October 1985
Airplane slides off runway at Bloomington; 26 to hospital for observation, only pilot kept for back injury. Accident report here. Listen here.

24 October 1985
Palace Theatre, Rochester NY.

25 October 1985
At Michelob Festival Of Stars, Palace Theater, Albany NY; with anti apartheid demo (see this and this).
The date attributed to this ad is different...:

30 October 1985
Massey Hall, Toronto ON; tickets $25-$50.

November 1985

1 November 1985
Interviewed on The Tube (UK; air date). See this.

3 November 1985
Aids fund raiser at Metropolitan Opera House in New York City NY.

7 November 1985
Emens Auditorium, Ball State University, Muncie IN.

8 November 1985
Kirkland Auditorium, Millikin University, Decatur IL.

9 November 1985
Centre East, Skokie IL.
Ad from Chicago Tribune, 8 Nov.

15 November 1985
James Knight Auditorium, West Palm Beach FL.

16 November 1985 (conflicting data)
Diabetes gala, Toronto ON.
Rainbow Music Hall, Denver CO.

18 November 1985
James L. Knight Center, Miami - rescheduled (see 10 October).
Wright Center, Stanford University, Birmingham AL.

18 November 1985
Samford University Star Series, Concert Hall of Wright Fine Arts Center, University Park PA.

20 November 1985
Eisenhower Auditorium at Penn State University; announcement here, review here.

21 November 1985
Pearl Street, Northampton MA.

22 November 1985
Opera House, Boston MA.

23 November 1985
Performing Arts Center, Providence RI.

26 November 1985
Two shows at Metro Convention Centre's grand ballroom, Toronto ON.
The Toronto Star wrote:
Ray Charles apologized midway through his first set before 1,300 fans at the Metro Convention Centre last night. "I'm not going to bug you with this," said the man they call The Genius. "I know it's a bit early, but I'm going to experiment on you first, if you don't mind." Was he about to launch a new song? Was the black tie and evening gown set that had just paid $200 a head for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's annual gala to be the first to hear it? Yes and no. The hands noodled the keys, settling suddenly on a melody that has instant world recognition - especially when it's 28 days before Christmas. What we got was "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"! A lesser performer couldn't have carried it off, but it's a measure of the sheer talent Ray Charles still commands after 40 years on the road that the audience was clapping in rhythm by the second chorus. This wasn't the pallid "Rudolph" that Gene Autry brought us: it was a sanctified "Rudolph" straight from the choir loft of a black Baptist church. What Charles had done to this maudlin, sticky sentimental gob of Christmas candy was quite simply and elegantly transform it - by taking it back home to Georgia. He didn't sing Rudolph, he drew out the word in a wail of yearning, then added the afterthought, "You'll go down in history... you red nosed reindeer you." Charles made new, improved material out of the old.

30 November 1985
Guest at Ebony/Jet Showcase. See this.

December 1985
Release of album The Spirit of Christmas.

4 December 1985
Cinema Teatro Margherita, Genoa ("Arriva Ray Charles I Grande"; local trombone player Luca Begonia hired 2 hours before the concert; cf. this; review here). TV cameras present; see this.

5 December 1985
Palasport, Florence.

6 December 1985
Cinema Teatro Corallo, Verona.

7 December 1985
Congress Centre Grand Hotel Billia, Saint-Vincent. Read review here.

10 December 1985
Teatro Sistina, Bari.

12 December 1985
Teatro Tenda, Lecce.

13 December 1985
Cinema Teatro Metropolitan, Napoli.

14 December 1985
Palaverde, Villorba.

16 December 1985
Teatro Smeraldo, Milan.

17 December 1985
PalaRuffini Palazzetto dello Sport, Torino.

18 December 1985
Palasport Città di Vicenza, Vicenza.

19 December 1985

20 December 1985
Palazzo della Cultura e dei Congressi, Bologna.

22 December 1985
Delete, Italy.

CBS ad from '85 or '86.


  1. Question about "Black & Decker" on sheet music. In the mid-eighties, Black & Decker power tools through its agency Lewis Gilman & Kynett in Philadelphia signed on to be the official power tool supplier to the Statue of Liberty restoration. As part of the agreement, B&D could do promotions to publicize their involvement. One promotion they did was to contribute a portion of power tool sales to the restoration fund. To communicate this, LG&K did a TV commercial with helicopter shots of the Statue at sunset with workers handling B&D tools. They commissioned Ray Charles to do a rendition of "America" to accompany. This photo was taken at the recording session in NYC.

    1. Ah, thank you - that happened in '84; cf.

  2. hello, (first excuse my english, I'm french )
    I love your blog very much, I find the 'Ad' for 5 July 1985 at the Vic, Chicago.
    How I can send it to you ?