Mediagraphy - Discography - Trackography - Videography - Gigography - Biography - Chronology

30 November 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Crash Dummies PSA (1997)

A CD was part of the 1998
campaign's mail pack for media.
Crash Dummies was a long running campaign from the US Department of Transportation (cf. these PSAs from 1986 and 1988). In 1993 Fox aired the Incredible Crash Dummies, supposedly the pilot for a planned series, which was later released on video, packed with an exclusive 'Ted' dummy action figure. See this.
That same year Crash Dummies even made it to a game, produced for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. See this.
In 1997 Ray contributed to the 30 second Back-Seat-Ba-By announcement below (campaign theme: "You could learn a lot from a dummy"; catchline: "Buckle Kids In The Backseat, Baby"). At the end Ray adds his most peculiar oneliner ever: "They stay alive even when I drive!".

Was this the end of the campaign?

28 November 2010

J'aime La France - Ray Charles In French Commercial (1997)

In January 1997 Bernard Pons, the "ministre de l’Aménagement du Territoire, de l’Équipement et des Transports, puis de l’Équipement, du Logement, des Transports et du Tourisme" launched a TV campaign to promote inbound tourism.
The campaign consisted of fifteen 45 second commercials where as many foreign celebreties (Ray Charles, Céline Dion, Woody Allen, Claudia Cardinale, Julio Iglesias, Tina Turner, Roger Moore a.o.) confessed their love for France.
The campaign was conceived by Euro-RSCG and directed by Elie Chouraqui. Source here.

Ray Charles - Man And Music On BBC Radio 2 (2000)

In July 2000 BBC's Radio 2 broadcast Ray Charles - Man And Music, four 30 minute episodes of a radio documentary, produced by Bob McDowall, on "the turbulent life and work of the musical icon from his poverty stricken childhood in the Southern States of America, the onset of his blindness as a child, through his struggle against racial prejudice and drug addiction":
  • Programme 1 : It Should Have Been Me, broadcast July 6, 2000. 
  • Programme 2 : What I'd Say, broadcast July 13, 2000.
  • Programme 3 : Busted, broadcast July 20, 2000.
  • Programme 4 : Look What They've Done To My Song, broadcast July 27, 2000.

Who knows more about the precise content of these programs?

23 November 2010

Ray Charles Interviewed By Roy Leonard For WGN Radio (1975)

Leonard and Charles, from a Chicago Tribune wire photo.
"Hello, from Chicago." During his 31 years at WGN Roy Leonard was a host (on radio) and (on tv) an arts critic. He reputedly read the book before he interviewed the author, saw every major movie and play, and attended concerts regularly.
He did interviews with many of the biggest names in entertainment during the three decades (1967 - 1998) of his program.
Roy - not as thoroughly prepared as otherwise - visited with Ray Charles at a gig in Chicago (from which we hear a small part of the concert opening with the Ray Charles Orchestra). In The Ray Charles Special - with all the usual statements from Ray - Roy surfs through some of Charles' hits. Oddly, Ray answers a few questions in the pluralis majestatis. The result was broadcast on 22 July 1975.

I have listened to 1h5m copy. An article in the Chicago Defender (July 22) announced the program as a 2-hour show.

20 November 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Documentary On Spoleto Festival USA (1981)

In the decades since its inception in 1979, the Spoleto Festival USA has established itself as a leading performing arts festival. On 8 July 1981 Channel 11 (PBS?) aired a 30 minute report on that year's jazz program, Spoleto '81 - Now You Has Jazz. It included footage of "the legendary Ray Charles in concert plus outdoor performances by Betty Carter, Taj Mahal and Randy Weston".

Who knows more?

Up Close With... Ray Charles (1979)

On 26 October 1979 the television page of the Carroll Daily Times Herald announced Up Close With.... Ray Charles, a 30 minute "biographical interview with this immensely popular blues singer/ pianist", to be aired on the 27th.
It's the only trace I've found of this program. In or around 1979 there were two formats carrying "Up Close With" in their title: one presented by Tom (Thomas) Cottle, and one by Paul Ryan.

Who knows more?

13 November 2010

Ray Charles Live In Amsterdam (1968)

On 21 February 1969 AVRO (on Nederland 1) aired a 45 minute edit (directed by Bob Rooyens) of the All New Ray Charles Show 1968, a concert programmed for 5 October 1968 (actually it was 6 October, since the concert started at midnight) at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A 25-minute edit of the same footage was aired on August 20, 1969.
The music critic of the Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, stipulated that the show offered "something for everybody", starting with "virtuose dancing" and a great rendition of Satisfaction by Billy Preston, followed by the Genius with a setlist including Georgia On My Mind, Margie, Yesterday, Going Down Slow, Crying Time, Eleanor Rigby, and What'd I Say. "Being blind since his sixth year, he never learned to control his body movements. He swayed heavily on the music with his arms and legs". "When the Radletts [sic!] came on stage, the show reached a climax. They were not the three fat ladies anymore led by Marjorie Hendricks, but four thin girls: Clyd[i]e King, Alexandra Brown, Gwendolyn Berry and Merry Clayton".
Music critic Ben Bunders missed the "spark" in Ray's performance (comparing the show with Ray's earlier concerts in Holland, and with more recent shows in Amsterdam by Aretha, Ike & Tina and Sam & Dave).
The next day almost all Dutch newspapers had a story on local tenor player Rudy Brink, who was hired - on the day of the concert - to sub with the Ray Charles Orchestra, but nevertheless 'didn't miss a note, and even took a few nice solos'.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The footage seems to be lost for ever.

12 November 2010

Ray Charles à Le Festival International De Jazz De Montréal (1983, 1985)

On 4 July 1983 Ray Charles gave a concert at the Théâtre St-Denis, for the Montreal Jazz Fest. A brief clip, probably produced for the CBC News, remains. We hear small parts of What'd I Say, and Georgia On My Mind. Watch it here; for a historical overview of the festival with some of the same What'd I Say footage see this clip from 1999. For a flipbook of the 1983 festival brochure, click this.

Musicians: Mark Curry, Denny Christianson, Robbie Kwock, Phil Guilbeau - trumpets; Mayo Tiana, John Boice, Scott Fisher, Dana Hughes - trombones; Clifford Solomon, Brian Mitchell, Rudy Johnson, Donald Wilkerson, Louis Van Taylor - saxophones; James Polk - piano, Eugene Ross - guitar, Roger W. Hines - bass, Rick Kirkland - drums. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran Hunter, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchelll, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.

* Reconstuction with help of Jeff Kaye, Robbie Kwock and Dean Congin.

The documentary Jazz Greats At The Montreal International Jazz Festival (1985) used another song from this same concert. The series was presented by Oscar Peterson, and featured Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Cleo Laine, Tony Bennett, Pat Metheny, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, and Stephane Grappelli.

JazzOnFilm lists three parts (only Ponty, Rollins and Gillespy are missing):

  • Part 1: Maynard Ferguson, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Pat Metheny.
  • Part 2: Buddy Rich, Miles Davis.
  • Part 3: Stephane Grappelli, Cleo Laine & John Dankworth, Ray Charles, with archival footage from his concert on 4 July 1983 (see this).

The episode with Ray showed him performing Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (at 8:04;  part of the Eb shout chorus has shamelessly been edited out) from the 1983 Montreal Festival described above:

Ray Charles À Le Premier Festival De Jazz De Montréal (1980)

On 2 July 1980 Ray Charles opened the Montreal Jazz Fest, at the Place des Nations. The CBC Téléjournal had a brief announcement (made by Paul Toutant), showing how Ray's piano is being prepared for the concert that night.

Browse a flipbook of the Festival brochure here. Also watch this video.

Ray Charles Ft. In Oscar Peterson Very Special (1976)

In the 1970s Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson toured a lot together in Europe, where Norman Granz was their impresario.
The Montreal Gazette from 17 September 1976 (probably published shortly after the actual taping) had a brief article stating that The Oscar Peterson Superspecial "was more lively an hour of fine jazz piano trio and big band music with guests Ray Charles and impresario Norman Granz contributing as well. Peterson talks a bit and plays a lot in the course of this show."

Concert portions were videotaped at the Minkler Auditorium (Seneca College); other tunes in a CBC studio.
Other than suggested by the clips and photos in this article, the show was taped in color. The program was directed by by Ron Meraska.

The show was aired by CBC on 14 November 1976, under the title Oscar Peterson: Very Special.
Oscar and Ray performing together in Toronto in September 1976. Photo by Bill Smith.  
Ray Charles and the band performed a flawless version of Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune), and Ray and Oscar together played Blues For Big Scotia, which - including the intro from Nat King Cole's Sweet Lorraine - was part of Ray's live repertoire since 1973:

Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune):

The CBC Archive database (IDs B-01435, B-01947, D-007786) adds some more information:
Canadian Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson hosts a music special that is filmed before an audience in the Minkler Auditorium at Seneca College.
Guests are Ray Brown (double bass), Herb Ellis (guitar), Louis Bellson (drums), Zoot Sims and Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis (tenor saxophones), Roy Eldridge and Clark Terry (trumpets), the Rick Wilkins Orchestra, and special guest, American singer Ray Charles.
Music producer and Peterson's manager Norman Granz introduces the show, which pays tribute to the musical influences in Peterson's life including Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington.
Highlights include 'Liza' (Peterson playing solo); a few bars of  'Someone to Watch Over Me' (Peterson); 'Sweet Lorraine' (Peterson sings and plays with Kessel and Brown); 'Take the A Train' (Peterson, Terry, Davis, Sims, Eldridge, Bellson with Rick Wilkins Orchestra); 'Million Dollars of My Own' [i.e. Then We'll be Home (Sadies Tune), BS] (Charles); a blues number (Charles, Peterson and orchestra) [this was Blues For Big Scotia, BS]; an unidentified selection (Peterson, Brown and Ellis); Rick Wilkins' arrangement of Place St. Henri from Peterson's Canadiana Suite (Peterson and band); Tenderly (Peterson and Brown); a recreation of a Jazz At The Philharmonic jam session with Granz introducing the band who play a fast tempo blues (Peterson and guests); and a closing number Lovely Way To Spend An Evening (Peterson trio). Also, Peterson and Granz talk about how they met and Granz's involvement in Peterson's career. Wilkins' group includes Gary Morgan, Jerry Toth, Eugene Amaro, Moe Koffman (saxophones); Rob McConnell, Butch Watanabe (trombones); and Guido Basso, Arnie Chycoski (trumpets).
The program is described as an episode of the CBC Superspecial series. The same catalog shares an other fabulous Peterson piece (Back Home Again In Indiana) from this show (watch here).
This photo (also by Bill Smith) is from a rehearsal for the same show.

How Peterson remembered Charles (interview for CBC, 2004):

Read more on Oscar and Ray here, here and here.  

Ray Charles In Souvenirs Du Festival De Jazz In Montreal (1997)

On 2 July 1999 the Canadian news program Le Téléjournal/Le Point aired a report, made by Paul Toutant, on the Montreal Jazz Festival (taking place from 1 to 11 July 1999), titled Souvenirs Du Festival De Jazz.
In little more than 8 minutes we see an impressive line-up of archival footage of live performing stars from the history of the festival - like Tony Bennett, François Bourassa, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cab Calloway, Johnny Clegg, Michel Cusson, Miles Davis, Cesaria Evora, Ella Fitzgerald, Stéphane Grappelli, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Diana Krall, Michel Legrand, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Guy Nadon, Oscar Peterson, Michel Petrucciani, Ginette Reno, Buddy Rich, Little Richard, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughn, Vic Vogel, and Ray Charles (with a few notes of What'd I Say).
These precious seconds come from a taping of Ray's Montreal concert from 4 July 1983 (see this). For a leaf-through reproduction of the 1999 festival program, look here.

See video here.

07 November 2010

Ray Charles On The Comedy In America Report (1976)

The Comedy In America Report was a one-off one-hour musical comedy variety show, "which takes a humorous look at the contemporary scene", starring Ray Charles, Rip Taylor, Don Knotts, Conrad Bain, Ray Stevens, Art Metrano and others. It aired on 9 April 1976.
On the TV guide page of the Oswego Palladium it was announced as "An experimental variety hour that tries to be different, at least". The Miami News announced that "[...] Ray Charles sings a protest song in front of the Capitol building. It's partly political satire and partly slapstick."

Who knows more?

Ray Charles On The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show (1978)

Ad in Detroit Free Press.
In 1978 Chuck Barris hosted a short lived prime time variety hour for NBC, called The Chuck Barris Rah-Rah Show. The format essentially was a noncompetitive knock-off of The Gong Show (cf. this). On 7 March 1978 at 8 p.m. Ray appeared in a line-up with Henny Youngman, Clifton Davis, Patti LaBelle, Jim Bailey, Al Green, Jaye P. Morgan and Margo Smith, "in the ongoing crusade to put a dent in ABC's rating lock on this spot" (source here).

Promo for the show:

Ray Charles In The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Of The Super Bowl (1977)

On 2 January 1977 NBC and CBS both aired variety Super Bowl specials. CBS offered Super Night At The Super Bowl, hosted by Sammy Davis Jr., Elliott Gould and Andy Williams, with guests like Johnny Bench, Natalie Cole, Joe Frazier, Angie Dickinson, Ken Norton, Charley Pride, Sha-Na-Na, O.J. Simpson and John Wayne.
On NBC Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Namath hosted The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Of The Super Bowl, directed by Tim Kiley, with guests Steve Allen, Foster Brooks, George Carlin, Rosey Grier, Arte Johnson, Doc Severinson, Harvey Korman, Ed McMahon, Stiller &Meara, Jimmie Walker, Jonathan Winters, and Ray Charles. Source here.

Ray Charles On The Mac Davis Show (1975)

Promotion (wire) photo.
From 1974 to 1976 singer/songwriter and part-time actor Mac Davis had his own television variety show on NBC. Ray Charles was a guest on The Mac Davis Show that was aired on 10 January 1975 by Channel 6: "Charles, Rich Little and Nanette Fabray join their host in sketches and songs".

Who knows more?

Ray Charles On Della (1969)

Della was the first prime time talk show in the USA to have an African-American host, singer/actress Della Reese. The program ran for 297 episodes in the 1969 - 1970 season.
Ray Charles, together with The Raelettes and Billy Preston was a guest on the show that was aired on 17(?) October 1969. I found the ad below in the  Herald Statesman (Yonkers, NY).

Ray Charles (Not) On Swinging With Sammy Davis Jr. (1960)?

The 1960 newspaper The California Eagle had a (beautifully designed, awfully written) show biz news & gossip page, that specifically reported on the adventures of black artists.
On 21 January 1960 they published a squib announcing that Sammy's "[...] 90 minute TV show in June will include Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Count Basie and will be titled Swinging With Sammy Davis Jr."
On 8 December 1960 they had an item stating that "Sammy Davis Junior's smash One Man Show is a buildup to his own in preparation television spectacular to be called The Swinging World of Sammy Davis, Junior which will feature Count Basie and Ray Charles... and even with those boys, ol' Sammy will really have to string out to top the show Harry Belafonte put on from N'Yawk-town."

It's unclear what exactly happened to this initiative. This article in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser of November 3, 1963, is just a bit too ambiguous: Sammy Davis "packaged a video special starring himself and featuring Ray Charles, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin - but [...] no network would touch it. [Davis] made clear he felt it was because he, a Negro, was the star" - leaving it open for interpretation if the show was actually taped.

06 November 2010

Ray Charles On The Tonight Show With Hal March (1962)

Paar and Kennedy (1959).
When after 3 years, in March 1962, Jack Paar left the The Jack Paar Tonight Show, the format was programmed as The Tonight Show for the first time. TV historians call this the "second interregnum", as for the next 6 or 7 months the program was presented by numerous successive hosts, including Art Linkletter, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin, Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, Soupy Sales, Jerry Lewis, Arlene Francis, Hugh Downs, Groucho Marx and Hall March - before in October 1962 Johnny Carson arrived, and the program was called The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
However, on 30 August 1962, the TV page of the Herald Statesman, a newspaper from Yonkers (NY) announced the program under the title Tonight, to be broadcast on Channel 4 (WNBC TV), from 11:15 to 1:00: "Guest host Hal March has quite a line-up of stars... Carroll Baker, Cesare Siepi, Jan Murray, Jack Dempsey, Ray Charles and Barry Gray".

Ray Charles (Not) On Ernie Ford Special (1967)?

Country and gospel singer Tennessee Ernie Ford presented several TV shows during his career. The TV page of the newspaper the Watertown Daily Times from 1 December 1967 announces the broadcast of the Ernie Ford Special on Sunday, 3 December 1967, on Channel 5 (Syracuse), with "guests Lainie Kazan and Ray Charles, jazz musician".
Other sources, however, describe a completely different line-up for this show, featuring Andy Griffith, Danny Thomas, The Dillards, Goldie Hawn, and - above all - Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Who knows more?

Ray Charles Honored By Florida Senate (1986)

Source: Florida Senate Journals.
On 15 April 1986 Ray Charles was honored by the Florida Senate, at the state's legislature in Tallahassee, on motion by Senator Pat Thomas, and "by unanimous consent", "the President announced that today is 'Ray Charles Day' in the Senate".
The full "Consideration of Resolution", "commending Ray Charles for his contribution to the field of entertainment" was quoted in the Journal of the Senate, Number 4, Tuesday, April 15 1986.
The video below, that turned up on YouTube, can probably be identified with an entry in the Photographic Collection & Filmguide at (nr. 99; 13:50; color; sound; V-155 P93-013; S. 1239; "Mr. Charles chats for a while and then plays a tune. Videotaped by Bradley White", wrongly dated as being of the "1970s").
Ray, as usual, does his slightly stammering  "thank-you-I'm-overwhelmed" speech, and then surprises his audience with a rendition of 3/4 Time. In the interview at the end of the video, he gives a funny reason for playing this song.

Speech, 3/4 Time, interview:

05 November 2010

Ray Charles' Message At The Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute (2003)

The Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute, A Celebration of Friends And Family, directed by Alan Carter, was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on 10 November 2003 and first aired by CMT on 15 November. Ray contributed through a concise video message.

Performers: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Hank Williams Jr., Larry Gatlin, Jack Clement, Johnny Western, Jimmy Tittle, Sheryl Crow, Laura Cash, Steve Earle, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Marshall Grant, Travis Tritt, John Mellencamp, Rodney Crowell, Marty Stuart, Kid Rock and Randy Scruggs. Others sending tribute video statements included Bono, Dan Rather, Whoopi Goldberg, the Rev. Billy Graham and Trent Reznor.

04 November 2010

Ray Charles On The Chevy Show? (1956)

In 1956, Dinah Shore began a one hour program on NBC, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. The program was extremely popular, and its theme song See The USA In Your Chevrolet..., always ending with Shore's  farewell kiss to the television audience, remain television icons. The line-up usually contained two or three guests drawn from the worlds of music, sports, and movies. The show was produced in Burbank, California by Bob Banner who also directed all episodes.
The ad above, inserted in the newspaper The Kingston Daily Freeman of 13 July 1956, at first sight seems to be the earliest documented proof of Ray Charles' TV career. But none of the 5 or 6 contemporary newspaper sources that wrote something about the show, mentioned Ray specifically. Also suspect, is that Ray nor his biographers ever mentioned this program.
It may seem an uncomfortably early date for a 'black orchestra' to be on a 'white show' (Ray was still working the Chitlin' Circuit),  but, Dinah also had Count Basie and Nat Cole on her show in these years...
If this was Ray Charles' "Orchestra", it would have been the 'small big band' (probably in a sextet formation). But objectively speaking, this of course also may have been 'the other Ray Charles' (Offenberg), although that musician has built his fame as a musical director, and as the leader of the eponymous Singers, but not exactly as an orchestra leader...

However, seven years later, when both Dinah and Ray were much more famous, Ray appeared on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, this time after securing a cheque (worth $ 15,000) that made headlines.

To give you an idea on Gisele MacKenzie's repertoire, see her horror take on Heartbreak Hotel (also from 1956):