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

20 December 2010

Ray Charles On Larry King Live (1987)

In 1987 Ray Charles talked "about his love of music" in Larry King Live, on CNN. U.S. citizens can watch a 90-second fragment here, and the rest of the show on Netflix.

The interview is part of the DVD compilation Larry King Live - The Greatest Interviews (2007).

19 December 2010

Two New Pages

See top right corner of this page. A much easier way to browse through the Chronology pages.
See top right corner of this page. Specific & specified requests for help.

17 December 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In TV Commercials For Wisconsin Lottery (2000)

In 2000 Ray Charles signed a contract with MDI Entertainment, allowing (according to a press release full of humbug): "[...] state lotteries to team up with the legendary Ray Charles". I already wrote about campaigns for the State Lotteries of Oregon, New Jersey (see also here) and Georgia.

On 24 September 2000 the Wisconsin Lottery also launched a TV campaign. The account was handled by Hoffman York. Ray sang an original jingle, titled You Don't Have To Play To Win, penned by Hoffman's Tom Jordan.
The TV campaign was followed by a special promotion on 26 January 2001, entailing "second chance bonus drawings", offering grand prize packages such as "Winner's Choice trips for two to attend one of Mr. Charles' fabulous concert performances, [...] including backstage passes to meet Mr. Ray Charles in person, [and a] signed artist proof portrait of Mr. Charles. The portrait is the work of famous Wisconsin artist George Pollard [see illustration]". In addition, there were "some 1,400 merchandise prizes, including Ray Charles limited edition prints, music CDs, Tee shirts, key chains and more". The tickets cost $2, and the top cash prize was $25,000. Source here.

Ray Charles Reading Braille (1965)

This picture, shot in a studio (probably Ray's own, in LA) was used as an illustration in several tour brochures, and in the Provinciaal Zeeuwse Courant from 3 July 1965. The photo is now held in the Michael Ochs Archives, under the title Hands Of A Genius. 

Ray Charles, King Of Soul (1988) (and 2007?)

In Germany the epithet "King of Soul" was often used for Ray (e.g. also for a few album titles). On 3 January 1988 the first German TV network aired a 70-minute program titled Ray Charles, King of Soul. According to this (Dutch) source it encompassed an interview and concert takes.
On 1 May 2007 tv station ARD re-broadcast the program (or... was it an entirely new documentary? BS) with the title Ray Charles - King of Soul. This source specifies that the "film" was made by Ali Haurand, a well known German jazz musician, presenting "Der musikalische Weg eines Superstars" - the musical journey of a superstar). The content description ("Ray Charles starb am 10. Juni 2004" - Ray Charles died on June 10th, 2004) seems to imply that this film was produced after Ray's death. Who knows more?

Ray Charles Live In Torino (1971)

My sources on the contents of this bootleg-CD are highly contradictive. For documental reasons I've described them all below.

But let's start with the correct track list:
Collection André Monnot.
  1. Intro + Tears Inside (erroneously, titled Blues Connotation on the bootleg CD) (Ray Charles Orchestra; Ray on piano)
  2. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  5. The Long And Winding Road
  6. Feel So Bad 
  7. Leave My Man Alone (ft Vernita Moss)
  8. I Can’t Stop Loving You 
  9. Bad Water (ft Mable John)
  10. Indian Love Call (ft Susaye Greene)
  11. What’d I Say + Outro
This was not a very inspired performance. What's worse about the sound recording, is that the balance between the singers and the orchestra was mixed by an amateur, and that on the CD the tracks were separated by another idiot.
The instrumental, track #1, is decently mixed. It is the Ornette Coleman tune Tears Inside from 1959 (listen to this). (The title chosen for the CD, and there also quoted as the title for this track - Blues Connotation - is from another, much better known Coleman composition).
Reeds and trumpets played out a nice battle. Marcus Belgrave (1st) and Jack Walrath (2nd) fought out the trumpet-part.* Edgar Willis picked his longest bass solo ever recorded. Ray played piano on it.
Track #7 (Leave My Man Alone) and # 9 (Bad Water) are only known from the 1972 album The Raeletts - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow). Ray gave #7 (Leave My Man Alone, a long, ditty-ish, intro on the theme "Take Me To Your Leader" (rhyming to "Her Name Is Vernita").

A trustworthy source has inferred the line-up from the corrupt liner notes on the bootleg CD and a concert that took place in October '71, in Paris.
Musicians: Marcus Belgrave, Thomas Cortez, Frank Szabo, Jack Walrath (tp); Glenn Childress, Dana Hughes, Jules Rowell, Mayo Tiana (tb); James Clay, Jay Cloyd Miller (as); Andy Ennis, David Newman (ts); Leroy Cooper (bs, bandleader); Charles “Bags” Costello (org), Ben Martin (g), Edgar Willis (bs-g), Ernie Elly (dm). Raelettes: Dorothy Berry, Susaye Greene, Mable John, Vernita Moss.

Following the indication on the bootleg pictured above, the concert has always been dated on August 8, 1971. I've only found documentation about a concert in Torino, on 9 October 1971 - a much more credible date since Ray and the band were touring Italy around that time.
* Thanks to Jack Walrath for identifying the title and the trumpet players. Thanks to André "Jazz" Monnot for sharing the CD with me.

Corrupt notes from other sources
This source presented the first track on this bootleg with the title Blues Connotation, and gives the following, unusually corrupt, track list; I'm quoting it including the obvious errors):
1. Blues Connotation 5:59
2. Blues is my middle name 2:28
3. Georgia on my mind 4:44
4. Snow is fallin' 2:32
5. Hey now 4:03
6. What I'd say 4:34
7. Goin' down slow 8:04
8. I can't stop loving you 3:25
9. I don't need no doctor 3:04
10. Title Unknown 6:47
11. Hallelujah, I love her so 4:54

The bootleg CD also has some liner notes, specifying the personnel - again with numerous corruptions:
John Szabo, Thomas Cortex, Arthur Walruth, Dana Hughes (trumpets); Andy Dennis, Ismael Lopez, James Rowell, Marcus Belgrave (trumpets); Glenn Childress (trombones); Cloyd Miller, Earl Clay (alto saxophones); David Newman (tenor saxophone); Leroy Cooper (bariton saxophone); Charles Bunds (piano, organ); James Martin (Guitar); Edgar Willis (bass); Ernest Elly (drums).

A second source, listed a completely different track list that was much more consistent with Ray's contemporary concerts, be it also with a number of corrupt details:
1. Intro & unidentified instrumental
2. That's You Girl
3. Georgia On My Mind
4. You Make Me Love You
5. The Long And Winding Road
6. Feel So Bad
7. Take Me to Your Leader & You Better Leave My Man Alone
8. I Can't Stop Loving You
9. Hey Boy
10. When I'm Calling You
11. What'd I Say & outro

Ray Charles Live In Tulsa (1999)

On 16 and 17 April 1999 Ray Charles performed at Chapman Music Hall, in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, with the Tulsa Philharmonic. The concert on the 17th was taped, and made available as a bootleg ("plagued by a rhythmic background static on a few of the songs. It's clearly an audience recording so it's not the FM static that hears from time to time; rather, it was more likely introduced by some inconsiderate fool somewhere up the burn chain").

The bootlegger specified the track list as follows:

  1. Intro
  2. They Can't Take That Away From Me
  3. If You Go Away
  4. That Thing Called Love
  5. Georgia On My Mind
  6. Eleanor Rigby
  7. Your Cheating Heart
  8. "I Don't Have A Clue - really, he slurs his way through this song and the words are indecipherable"
  9. Be My Love
  10. Unidentified instrumental
  11. A Song For You
  12. All I Ever Need Is You
  13. America The Beautiful

Ray Charles At Carnegie Hall In 1984, Broadcast in Brazil In 1985?

The Jornal do Brasil from 8 May 1985 mentions a tv program on Record TV that night, a show taped at Carnegie Hall the year before, where Ray is singing Stella By Starlight, Ruby and What'd I Say.
On 12 November 1984 Ray gave a concert with the New American Orchestra, themed Reach For The Stars, a benefit for the Lenox Hill Hospital, at Carnegie Hall in New York - but there may of course have been one or more other shows at that venue.
Rede Record (Record TV) is Brazil's second largest television network (currently owned by Bishop Edir Macedo, founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God).

Who knows more?

14 December 2010

Ray Charles Camera-Shy In Molde (1999)

On- and off-stage, Ray Charles hated photo cameras. "What's all that damn click-click-clickin'?!" Ray's tour management always maintained very strict rules regarding photography (later also: videography) during concerts, but for instance also when Ray arrived at airports, hotels and concert venues.
At concerts, taking photos was usually just allowed during the first and the last song. Security people were briefed to act against camera owners breaking these rules. This often led to irritation, and sometimes to small riots in front of the stage. Or even on stage, when Ray refused to go on as long as photographers were shooting.

On 15 July 1999 Ray Charles performed at the Molde Jazz Festival in Norway. The next day Dagbladet reported that "quarrelsome security guards were about to destroy the entire concert with soul legend Ray Charles" when a camera man from NRK, a tv station, filmed during the "wrong" song, at which Ray  threatened to walk off the stage if the videotape wasn't handed over to the security people. "There's an asshole out there who likes making movies when I play. As long as he continues, I do not play," Ray said from the stage, and sat with his arms crossed.
He resumed his performance when the NRK camera man gave the tape to one of the festival organizers, "who had the choice to either give the tape to one of Ray Charles' managers, or to get 7,500 spectators in his neck". During the concert, the organizer "made several vain attempts to persuade Charles' management to return the tape". A team from a competing tv station (TV2) managed barely to escape with their shooting materials - "with security forces in pursuit".
At the end of the concert the scandal continued: "When the photographers took some shots at the closing number, the security guards went almost crazy. The photographers were thrown out of the area [...]". When they protested, a guy in the entourage of Ray cried out. "See you in court in Los Angeles!"

As usual, before the concert a number of journalists had been invited to meet the legend at the airport, but when Charles' people discovered the camera press, they were furious. "Get away! The man will not be filmed!" bellowed Charles' staff. "The legend himself, tired and exhausted, did not come out before the press found itself at a distance."
The "circus" continued when the press was pushed and threatened by local security guards when Charles arrived at his hotel. "If I see a flash, I take the camera and step on it," roared a production manager from the jazz festival, and pushed several photographers.

Who knows more about any footage surviving from these scrimmages? 

Ray Charles On Canadian News (1986)

On 23 October 1986 Ray Charles played two sold out concerts at the Copa, Toronto. CBC covered the event twice. On the 23d, Newshour had an item with the following shotlist:

*/ls/ musician Ray Charles performing on stage at Toronto's Copa club
*/pan/ audience at the Copa claps
*/mcu/ Charles playing piano
*/ls/ protestors in front of the Copa with placard 'Ray Charles entertains apartheid'
*/cu/ sign 'the Copa' pan down to protestors standing in front of club
*/ls/ protestors give flyers to people leaving club
*/intv/ protestor SOT upset with Ray Charles' decision to perform to racially integrated audiences in South Africa
*/mcu/ reporter Stu Paterson with protestor
*/intv/ protestor SOT Charles shouldn't have gone to South Africa
*/var/ Charles performing on stage

On the 24th DRN (Daily Regional News), had a similar item, showing Ray performing at the Copa, and anti-apartheid protesting outside the venue. The voice-over explained: "Tonight, protestors gathered in front of The Copa club where musician Ray Charles was performing. Protestors were upset [about] Charles' decision to perform to racially integrated audiences in South Africa in the early 1980s [i.e. October 1980, BS], which, they say, supports South Africa's apartheid regime".

Since 1981 many of Ray's concerts in the USA and Canada were targeted by Unity In Action, a small but very active anti-apartheid group. In fact, in 1980 he had ignored a UN-supported boycott of South Africa. He faced pickets in South Africa, Europe and in many North American cities.
Just at the time of this concert in Toronto Ray had had enough of it. On October 4th he had published an open letter on the subject, in Billboard:

Also read this and this on Ray's position and actions against segregation. As late as 1991, a concert in Stockholm was canceled when the promoters discovered that Ray Charles was still on a U.N. blacklist...

13 December 2010

Ray Charles On TV In Genoa (1985)

On 4 December Ray Charles stayed at the Savoia Majestic Hotel in Genoa, where he hired Luca Begonia, a local trombone player, as a stand-in 2 hours before his concert started. Cf. this; review here.
The concert was taped, or broadcast live, by a "private tv station". Afterwards one of the spectators went to court to get a compensation for not being able to enjoy the performance because cameras had blocked his sight. A judge first sentenced that he should be offered access to Ray's concert in Milan, on the 16th, plus a compensation for his train ticket, but this was revoked later. Source: La Stampa, 14 and 17 December 1985.

Who knows more about the destiny of the footage?

12 December 2010

Ray Charles Celebrating Christmas On TBN (c 1988)

The clips below require some more internet archeology to identify them with certainty, but since this is the right time of the year, I'll share what I can guess about their origin.
Both clips contain a gold-colored crown-logo. The phone number in the second clip leads to TBN (the Trinity Broadcasting Network), the largest Christian television network in the U.S. In the first clip, Ray suggests the taping is part of a "worldwide Christmas celebration". This clip, with the Wiener Sängerknaben, must have been part of the same program.
The phone number (owned by TBN) may imply that the purpose of the program was either to sell something (a CD or DVD?), or to raise funds, or maybe it just had a missionary goal.

According to Wikipedia, he "E/I"-sign in the first clip stands for educational and informative, referring to a type of children's television programming shown in the USA. This requirement was enacted as part of the Children's Television Act of 1990. Stations must identify such shows on-screen with an "E/I" bug in a corner of the screen. Originally, this was displayed only during the first minute of the program, or, as a separate announcement prior to the show, but since 2004, all E/I shows must display the bug during the entire duration of the show, except during commercial breaks. Cable television channels are exempt from FCC programming regulations, although some do place an "E/I" bug on their voluntary educational programming.
Ray first released these songs on the album The Spirit Of Christmas, in 1985. Although we hear some audience noise in these clips, they look as if they are recorded in an isolated studio, using the orchestra tapes from the original record.
Looking at Ray's hair color, the songs were recorded in the late 1980s - my best guess is 1988 or 1989. The clips may well have been copied from a more recent broadcast or DVD. Who knows more?

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer:

The Little Drummer Boy:

11 December 2010

Ray Charles In Concert In Prato (1970)

Johnny Coles and Leroy Cooper.
On 20 January 1970 RAI 2 aired "an encounter with a famous jazz musician, Ray Charles: Ray with his band perform eight tracks [...]". The program was presented by Sergio Fantoni and Minnie Minoprio. "The famous blind black man, here with his orchestra, in a recent Italian tour, will be presented, including Georgia  and Hallelujah I Love Her So".*
The 'recent tour' may refer to a series of concerts that brought Ray, the "creator of pop jazz", to a.o. the Pavilion at the Fairgrounds in Bologna, on 29 September 1970.

In the 90s Rai Tre aired a late night series format, titled Schegge* (i.e. "snippets"). Some of these were dedicated to vintage jazz performances. I have seen a 15-minute Schegge-tape with B&W footage from the 1970 concert described above. One of the superimposed titles implies that the concert took place in Prato. The episode, directed by Sara Cipriani, entailed at least 3 out of the 8 songs from the concert:
  • Hallelujah I Love Her So
  • Am I Blue (solo: Johnny Coles - tp)
  • I've Got A Woman (with Für Elise intro)
* Source here and here. **Special thanks to Irene Terrani for helping to solve the puzzle.

Ray Charles Live At Montreux Jazz Festival 1991, July 16th

Video still: Khan, Charles, Benson.
I already had quite some - and quite confusing* - information on Ray Charles' contributions to the 1991 edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival. It now is (though not yet in all details) becoming clear that Ray actually performed twice. Read this for some context.

The Concert Database of the Montreux Jazz Festival has an extensive description of Ray's concert on the 16th, at the Casino.

The video taping has a total duration of 01:27:05. Personnel: Ray Charles (voc, p), Paul Jackson Jr. (g), Steve Ferrone (tamb), Nathan East (b), Greg Phillinganes (kbds, voc), Ray Cooper (perc), Chaka Khan (guest) (voc), George Benson (guest) (g, voc), Al Jarreau (guest) (dr), George Duke (guest) (p), Rachelle Ferrell (voc). The setlist was (with obvious corrections):

1. What's Goin' On
2. Thru' The Fire
3. We Can Work It Out
4. Sign To The Limit
5. Blues For Big Scotia - Ray Charles
6. I Can See Clearly Now - Ray Charles
7. Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles
8. Makin' Whoopee - Ray Charles
9. Your Cheating Heart - Ray Charles
10. Doodlin'  - Ray Charles with George Benson
11. Masquerade - Ray Charles with George Benson and Chaka Khan
12. Six Two Four
13. Boogie Down

Ray first came on stage for song #5, and didn't return after #11. This source describes a 47-minute tape of the show. To watch Masquerade, click here. I've just seen this program, titled Festivété, encompassing tracks #5 to #11; Ray scatted a bit in #5; Makin' Whoopee (#8) was the first recorded live version of the song since the Shrine concert in 1964 except for a duet with Engelbert Humperdinck in 1970.

* Update 12 March 2015:
Part of the confusion comes from the fact that Ray Charles also performed in Montreux - with the band & The Raelettes - on the 15th, and that this show was not part of the Jazz Fest's program...

10 December 2010

Ray Charles In A TVE Show (1973)

From 14 to 17 September 1973, stopping over on his way from London to Italy, Ray Charles stayed in Madrid to do a concert (his first in Madrid, probably on the 15th) and a taping for a TVE show (his first in Spain) on the 16th.
My only source is here. Can anybody tell me more about the concert and that TV program?

New Page For Recent Revisions & Updates


Ray Charles Interviewed On A-uan-ba-buluba-balam-bamboo (1985)

A-uan-ba-buluba-balam-bamboo was a Spanish music magazine series, hosted by Sandra Milhaud and Carlos Tena, and broadcast by TVE 2. It mainly recycled music clips. On 24 October 1985 they featured Ray Charles, with an exclusive interview, and a recent video clip. Source here. The interview may have been shot at Ray's concert in San Sebastián that year (on July 21st).

Who knows more?

From one of the 1980s episodes:

Ray Charles Ft. In Musical Express-Amigos (1981)

Musical Express-Amigos was a weekly 1-hour music magazine with lots of jazz, blues, and soul, hosted by Angel Casas, and broadcast by TVE. Ray Charles was featured in one of the episodes, with an interview (dubbed in Spanish), taped backstage at his concert from 26 May 1981, at the Palacio Municipal de los Deportes in Barcelona (review here).
On 18 April 1982 the program makers looked back on "un año de Musical Express", and included a sequence about Ray.

I've seen a 59-minute copy of the show. Casas mixed concert footage (obviously not in the order of the concert's setlist) with a spoken biography of Ray and a backstage interview. The concert's quality was rather mediocre, the interview not interesting at all.
  • I Can't Stop Loving You
  • Spoken bio
  • Georgia On My Mind 
  • Fragment Blues Brothers
  • Interview at concert location
  • Yesterday 
  • Oh, What A Beautiful Morning 
  • Busted 
  • I Want Your Love (The Raelettes) 
  • Anyway You Want To (The Raelettes) 
  • Knock On Wood (ft Trudy Cohran) 
  • Crying Time 
  • Hit The Road Jack 
  • Interview
  • What'd I Say 

09 December 2010

Ray Charles Live In Versilia (1984)

On 1 November 1984 Ray Charles gave a concert in the Bussola Domani series at the Palcoscenica in Versilia. The show was (live, semi-live or later?) broadcast by Rai Uno. La Stampa of 2 November suggested that Ray received 100,000,000 lire for the performance ("3,000 spectators in a religious silence under the big tent [...], moved the audience with a whisper and mumbles his infinite tenderness, and loads of fun and laughter, enhances  applause with the originality of his interpretations and his squirming at the piano").

Musicians: Robbie Kwock, Mark Curry, Jim Seeley, Jeff Kaye - trumpets; John Boice, Dan Marcus, Dan Weinstein, Dana Hughes - trombones; Brian Mitchell, Clifford Solomon (band leader), Ricky Woodard, Rudy Johnson, Louis Van Taylor - saxophones; Bobby Floyd - organ; Dennis Nelson - guitar; Roger Hines - bass; Ricky Kirkland - drums. Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchell, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.

I have seen a few video fragments of the concert. Who knows more?

Ray Charles Ft. In KFBE Bio's Bahnhof (1982)

On 15 July 1982 Ray Charles performed in the 28th episode of the German variety show KFBE Bio's Bahnhof, hosted by Alfred Biolek (nicknamed Bio), and taped at the Railway Depot in Frechen. KFBE was an acronym for the Köln-Frechen-Benzelrather Eisenbahn.
The other guests were Alexander Arnz, Supercharge, Mario and Romano Colombaioni, Majorie Barnes, the Rollstuhlfahrer-Tanzgruppe der Technischen Universität München, Imrat Khan Family, Gustl Thoma, Serapions Theater, and the Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination*. Source here.

Trombonist Dan Marcus' eye witness account of the gig adds some more flavor to the peculiar format of Bio's show:
"Our show included a yodeling instructor, a bunch of dancers dressed up like evil Disney animal characters, rippin' their way out of a giant grocery bag, and the afore-mentioned wheelchair dance group, which was a bunch of women ballroom dancers with their wheelchair-bound parapalegic husbands. [...] The FUNNY part is that after a mad scramble up the Autobahn (it was raining, so Ray wouldn't fly), a whole afternoon of rehearsal & sound-check with this high-powered band (I remember that Bob Coassin was playing lead trumpet [...]), with Bio & his producers running around like high-stressed madmen trying to keep the obviously overbooked show (two hours of weird shit in a 90 minute bag) on the rails, the show runs long anyway, and with about 45 seconds of airtime left, they cue Ray to start What'd I Say. He goes to play the Rhodes intro & the sustain pedal's frozen down (not good). So he of course freaks out & these techs scramble over and slide the Rhodes away from him to work on it. Unfortunately, [Ray] doesn't realize that he is NOW no longer invisible from the waste down, and to end the bizarre show, the German public are treated to a live close-up two-shot of the Genius of Soul frustratedly & furiously scratching his balls. Cut to commercial..."
The good news is that the footage has survived. Ray, the girls, and (a portion of)* the band (in T-shirts!) performed:
  1. Riding Thumb
  2. I Can't Stop Loving You
  3. What'd I Say
* Dean Congin remembers that a portion of the Ray Charles band was selected to play with Herbolzheimer's group.

The bad news is that the Genius' cojones didn't play a really prominent part in the scene with the Rhodes (but what remains, is still funny to watch):

Video embedded for documentation purposes in the context of this blog only. Please don't share this link.

Another bizarre sample of the show; much more on YouTube:

Ray Charles Ft. In Envoyé Spécial (1996)

Envoyé Spécial was a 43m20s documentary about Jean-Pierre Grosz, and his working relationship - and friendship - with Ray Charles. The program was first aired by France 2 on 15 May 1996. Source here. Also read this.

I found an automated (French to English) translation from the description of this documentary in the INA archive (ID CAB96020392). It's clear that a bit of drama was added to the script. Some edited highlights:
  • Jean-Pierre Grosz, a locksmith working in the district of Montmartre in Paris, maintained a long friendship with the American singer Ray Charles before the latter suggested to produce Strong Love Affair. This fairy tale began 19 years ago (on January 29th, 1979, Jan-Pierre's birthday) when Charles promised him that one day he would produce one of his albums.
  • Various shots in black and white of Ray Charles; music clip: Say No More.
  • Shot of the back of Ray's car (license plate RC 923), parked in front of RPM Studios.
  • Semi CU of Ray's legs, walking a bit unsurely in a corridor.
  • Ray feeling the pieces of a chess set with his hands.
  • Interview: Ray answers the question why he chose a French producer: he is not interested in the nationality of people; what counts for him is if he can communicate with someone. He doesn't have to see Jean Pierre, he can imagine him.
  • Shots of Ray's office, with a plan board scheduling Ray's annual 320 concerts.
  • Ray preparing some coffee, showing that he knows how to manage things alone.
  • Interview: he can do everything; he only regrets he can't drive.
  • Scene from the commercial where Ray drives a Peugeot 306 ("the clip realized without special effects").
  • Shot of the "very secret studio", Ray mixing music ("only he is authorized to do this").
  • Ray and Jean-Pierre side by side in front of the mixing desk: a "very excited Grosz" dries his forehead. Ray explains why he is disappointed: it is necessary to have something to say in a sad song. They listen to another take of the song. Ray likes it. "Both men dance".
  • Ray searching for a cassette on a shelf, not finding it. He shows his concern: to lose something is a disaster because without help, he can't find anything.
  • Interior of the safe where Charles keeps all his recordings: woman helping him to open drawers; Grosz, Charles and woman looking for the cassette. They find it.
  • Grosz says that all tapes are in safe boxes, to protect them against fire.
  • Interview in the recording studio: while laughing a lot, Ray explains that he does not consider himself to be a songwriter, although he has had a lot of success with his own songs. He had to put 3 days in composing Hallelujah I Love You So, which he considered as way too long.
  • Ray and Jean-Pierre dancing while listening to some music in the recording studio.
  • Ray, Jean-Pierre and unidentified other people leaving the building (in V.O. the journalist explains that they do not know where they go).
  • Interview with Ray before he gets into his car. He knows the color of his car. He can still imagine all basic colors because he lost his sight when he was seven.
  • Shot of the back of the car, going to a hospital.
  • Woman welcoming the singer by saying to him that the person with whom he has a meeting is waiting for him.
  • Shots of room: Ray Charles waiting for the mother of a girl whose operation he financed "so that she is not deaf any more". Arrival of the smiling and happy mother (she did not know who financed the 20,000 Francs. The girl is carried by her father. She is very shy but smiles in the end.
  • Interview. For Ray hearing is more important than seeing. If he lost his hearing, he would die. Through our ears we are more in touch with the world, a child has a better chance in life if he/she can hear (understand).
  • The family and Ray embrace each other before leaving.
  • Ray in front of a door with a broken key inside the lock. Grosz meets another locksmith. Both locksmiths speaking about their profession.
  • The lock is repaired, Ray can finally enter the room, where he seizes a vintage bottle of champagne.
After compiling the text above, I've seen the whole - very charming - documentary. The contents of the last part of the film are missing in the INA description above. These entailed scenes from a trip to Washington, footage from a private (small-symphony) concert performed there, and a very funny interview immediately after that concert. Ray totally lost it after the interviewer confronted him with the fact that there were no blacks in the audience. After drying his tears, he takes his time to explain that the typical audience of these private concerts only exists of millionaires, and that it's a fact of life that there simply are no black millionaires... with the exception, maybe, of... Ray Charles (followed by more hilarious laughter).
Grosz also wrote a book about their remarkable adventures: Ray, mon ami (Paris, 2005).

Ray Charles Ft. In NBC Music Legends (1997)

Music Legends was an NBC series of 13 double documentaries on major popular musicians, each episode featuring two artists in 2 times 12 minutes. It aired in 1997.
Among the other musicians were Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Mark Knopfler, Phil Collins, Robby Krieger, and Nick Cave. Source here.

Who knows more?

Ray Charles Closes Olympic Summer Games (1996)

On 4 August 1996 Ray Charles took 8 minutes (source: here) to perform America The Beautiful at Woodruff Arts Center in the closing ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. The New York Times TV critic wrote: "Constant replays of Ray Charles singing America have accomplished the unthinkable: never wanting to hear him sing it again".

On Facebook, Ray Charles Orchestra trumpetist Chuck Parrish wrote about the band getting a call for another Olympic gig after the bomb that went off on July 27th, to play at Centennial Park. "I guess we were the guinea pigs on whether it was safe to play there after the bomb went off. 250K in the crowd and worldwide broadcast to all Olympic stations and CNN when we played Georgia."
Trumpet player George Rawlin, also on Facebook, remembers, "I played with Ray every night of the '96 Olympics. Big orchestra, big fun, biiiggg swing!"

Who knows more about the actual footage?

08 December 2010

Ray Charles Guests At The Danny Kaye International Children's Awards (1991)

On 1 September 1991 Ray Charles contributed to Unicef 1991; The Danny Kaye International Children's Awards, taped at the Congresgebouw in The Hague. The show was hosted by Roger Moore and Audrey Hepburn, and directed by Dwight Hemion. Other guest artists were Luciano Pavarotti, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Cher, Gregory Peck, Whoopi Goldberg, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Source here.

Who knows more about Ray's performance?

Ray Charles Live In Sitges (1976)

From La Vanguardia, Aug. 8.
On 26 July 1976 Ray Charles gave a concert in Sitges, as a closing act of the Primer Festival de Jazz. The show was broadcast live by TVE 1.
As yet, no footage has surfaced.

From Spanish newspaper articles it becomes clear that after the cameras stopped, Ray's manager, Joe Adams, ostensibly said goodbye to the audience, "sowing doubt in the auditorium". Soon after that, the organization announced that the concert would resume after an interval of fifteen minutes. But Adams claimed that the job was done, ordered the orchestra to abandon the stage, and disappeared, "leaving the organizers in a state of confusion". Sources:  herehere and here.

Drummer Scott von Ravensberg remembers: "We were to do two sets at an outdoor stage, right on the coast. We did the first show and the people went wild, they loved it..! Well back in the band tent we were told that we wouldn't be doing the second set and that we needed to pack up and leave... quietly. So we did!
Jim Campbell on bass just to the left of Ray; Andy Ennis just behind the piano,; Henry Coker just above Ray's glasses; Bob Knedlick to Henry's left behind and above Andy; Ernest Vantrease at the far end of the piano. Photo by Josep Maria Alegre.
Apparently Ray had found out that the concerts were being recorded and said 'No second show!' I'm not sure, and won't mention names, but someone told someone else that misunderstood what someone's 'deal' had included, and didn't bother to tell Brother Ray.
I guess everyone in the city must have been at the show... it was kind of crazy because there were NO cabs! So we, I mean every one in the band, the girls AND Ray (that's right, Ray!) had to walk back, a mile or so, to the hotel along the ocean in the dark! [...] Well as it turned out [...] the road crew had to pack up everything and get it back to the hotel. It started to rain at some point, and the people went ape shit when there was no 2nd show. They rioted and bum rushed the stage! They got to the girls' costume & make up bags and threw things all over, and tried to get to the drums and band fronts and the Fender Rhodes piano that we carried, as well as to the bass and guitar amps. I don't know how Harold and Tony [i.e. the road crew] did it, but they beat back the hordes and somehow got our stuff back to the hotel!"

The Sitges stage, just before hell broke out. From La Vanguardia, Aug. 8.

07 December 2010

Ray Charles Starring In Portofino Porto D'Arte (1995) And A Song That Was Never Released

On 14 July 1995 Ray Charles played with his Orchestra and The Raelettes at the Piazzetta, part of the local harbor's quay, in Portofino. The (voice over) comments were delivered by Amii Stewart and Ezio Guaitamacchi, both taking the liberty to sometimes speak through the music. One source specified that Amii Stewart also did a duet with Ray, but in the tape that I saw she could only be seen on stage (at the end) for a solo performance, and (in the middle) for an unusual interruption of the show, introducing Ray to a representative of Motorola, who honored the Genius with an utterly vague award. Barbara Morrison opened the show, but didn't make it to my video copy.
Ray was escorted to and from the stage by an entourage of around 12 broad shouldered people, amongst whom 3 or 4 street cops and a richly uniformed police chief, leading the parade both times, stood out.
The show, presented (i.e. probably sponsored?) by Portofino Porto D'Arte, was directed by Gabriele Cazzola. The stage had a big sign with the text (possibly of a bigger festival) "Hello America".
The TV program aired on the 16th on Canale 5, being announced as "the event of the season", with an audience of 5 million, and "over one hundred television commercials" [sic!] sold by Canale 5-owner Fininvest.

La Stampa wrote that the concert coincided with the release of Ray's "latest album", which was to contain O Sole Mio, recently produced in LA and Milan with Patrone Gennaro, Salvatore and Nunzio Esposito Reinathe, the mandolin section of Renzo Arbore's The Italian Orchestra. Supposedly, the track was even to be released "in May" as a single (cf. this). But to my knowledge the tune never reached the market (also cf. this).

More reviews and a very brief interview can be found here and here ("Triumphal entry [...] dazzling smile, a pair of avant garde design spectacles [...], an incredible floral tuxedo").

Roger Ingram, Kurt Weiss, Dave Hoffman, Ken Scharf - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Michael Guerrier, Dupor Georges, Charlie Schofner - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson, - alto saxophone; Al Waters, Rudy Johnson - tenor saxophone; James Farnsworth - bariton saxophone; Ernest Vantrease - keyboeards; Steve Gregory - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Peter Turre - drums; The Raelettes (Renee Georges, Stella Yarborough, Tonette McKinney, Elaine Woodard, Angie Workman) - backing vocals.
*Listing by Steve Sigmund.

The song list was:
  1. Intro RC
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. How Long Has This Been Going On
  7. Teardrops From My Eyes
  8. Angelina
  9. Blues For Big Scotia
  10. A Song For You
  11. Introduction Raelettes (by RC)
  12. Interruption: Motorola Award
  13. Shameless (Estella Yarbrough)
  14. I Can't Stop Loving You
  15. Smack Dab In The Middle
  16. I'm Gonna Keep On Singin'
  17. What'd I Say
  18. O Sole Mio
  19. Outro


Ray Charles Sings Georgia With Giorgia (1995)

On 27 April 1995 Canale 5 aired a big live show from the Palasport di Casalecchio in Reno (Bologna) to celebrate Alberto Tomba's world championship in alpine skiing. Ray Charles invited Giorgia (Todrani) on stage to sing Georgia On My Mind (her father named her Giorgia after the song).

Among the other stars of the evening were Neri Per Caso, Biagio Antonacci, Manuela Di Centa, Silvio Fauner, Gustavo Thoeni, Piero Gros, Gino Bartali, Giacomo Agostini, Pierluigi Marzorati, Dino Meneghin, Sara Simeoni, and Novella Calligaris.

Sources: here and here.

Who knows more?

Ray Charles In A Foul Mood In Positano (1996)

On 7 July 1996 both Corriere della Sera and La Stampa had big stories on a concert given the night before by Ray Charles and Renzo Arbore (also see this article), at Castelvetrano in Positano. My Italian is sketchy, but this is my reconstruction (to the Italian readers of this blog: please correct me if I got things wrong!).
The night of July 5 another concert organized by the same impresario, at the archaeological site of Selinunte in Sicily, had been canceled at the last moment by local authorities, who were afraid that the mass crowd would cause damage to the historic location.
For the concert in Positano, the impresario offered Ray - who was staying at a hotel in Naples - to pick him up by helicopter. The "king of soul" refused, preferring to bridge the distance by car - which turned out to be a hellish trip on the Amalfi Coast drive.
Ray arrived much too late, and in a foul mood, at the concert location. He put up a fuss, refusing a special performance - that was to be televised - of O Sole Mio together with Renzo Arbore, although that was part of the contract, which had a clause whereby up to 24 hours before a concert he could have decided not to perform, "without penalty, with the court of Los Angeles jurisdiction in the event of litigation."  During the discussion his mood didn't improve, "even though he had received $70,000 in advance for the two concerts".
Arbore's assessment of the situation was negative, "I do not think its possible," he stated. "We have not rehearsed. What can we do? [...] We have to take these U.S. superstars as they are. Moreover, before an artist like Charles one must always bow."
Ray started his usual concert routine at the beautiful Positano beach (half a meter from the sea, with the chairs on the sand), without disclosing his final decision on the duet with Arbore. The setlist went from Georgia On My Mind to Angelina, showing that he was still able "to penetrate the feelings of the audience". Arbore and the tv crew were still in stress when he came at the end of the set list, and left the stage. "Thus, the thriller lasted until late at night: soul and mandolin, yes or no?" But then, finally, Ray and Arbore came back on stage to do O Sole Mio, accompanied by two guitars and three mandolins from Arbore's orchestra. 
(Also cf. this).

Who knows more about the destiny of the TV recording?

06 December 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Festa Azzura (With Renzo Arbore) (1994)

During the 1994 Soccer World Cup, held in the USA, Rai Uno produced the show Festa Azzurra at Madison Square Garden in New York. The show was broadcast in Italy via satellite. The evening was hosted by clarinetist and orchestra leader Renzo Arbore. His The Italian Orchestra performed together with a number of American guests, including Ray Charles, who played 'O Sole Mio.
The clip below has some footage with Ray, possibly from this same performance. (Ray and Renzo had met before, and would meet again...).

Update: this clip was released on the album Renzo Arbore And Friends (Gazebo 11 November 2014):

Ray Charles Part Of Oral History Project At USF (1977 - 1978)

In the summer of 1947, 16 years old, Ray Charles tried to make a living in Tampa, partly succeeding by playing piano ("for a few days") with a C&W band, The Florida Playboys).
In 1977 and 1978 Otis Anthony interviewed about ninety civil rights pioneers and members of Tampa's black community for the Tampa Urban League. Some of them talked about music, and the Tampa honky-tonk bars, and gave first-person accounts of Ray Charles when he got his start in Tampa.
The tapes were relegated to Anthony's garage, but were recently restored and digitized by USF Professor Cheryl Rodriguez, and are now archived in the USF library. Hear this.

05 December 2010

Ray Charles On Rock & Roll Remember Radio Show (1983)

According to this contract, Ray performed at two broadcasts of Dick Clark's NBC (American) Bandstand, on 10 and 12 April 1957.
[There's always some reason to doubt the authenticity of this kind of documents, but this one looks genuine; it was recently sold for $216]. The contract above was signed by "the other" Ray Charles Offenberg.

Also read this, on Ray's appearances at the television version of American Bandstand.
The 4-LP set above contains a 4-hour recording of Dick Clark's Rock & Roll Remember - Radio Show, including the original program segment sheets, from 21 May 1983 (radio shows were still archived on wax or vinyl at the time). The year 'remembered' in this show was 1959.
Ray Charles' music was featured with several tunes, spanning his music output from the mid 50s to the mid 60s, and with a series of interview sequences. I guess this interview took place for this occasion, in 1983.
I haven't been able to verify it, bur after Clark's passing, Jerry Waxman wrote that "[Clark] was the first mainstream jockey on a commercial station to play Ray Charles (Hallelujah I Just Love Her So)".

Ray Charles Ft. In Romeo Und Julia 70 (1969) + Amazing Photo Find

Romeo Und Julia 70 was a lavishly produced 2-part tv mini-series directed and written by Michael Pfleghar (1933 - 1991), at the time Germany's most famous TV director. Its first episode was aired, in German, by ZDF (who also coughed up the $2 million dollar budget) on 14 May 1969, the second on May 18th, but it was also distributed in English for other markets (possibly incidentally under one of its alternative working titles, The Year Of The Jokers). I remember seeing it about 40 years ago, on Dutch television.

Pfleghar shot 120 kilometers of color tape and edited that back to 180 minutes. His Julia is working in a grocery store, Romeo is a taxi driver. Their love strengthens, when they mix their dream worlds with reality.
In a newspaper announcement of the Dutch broadcast, the program was positioned as a "Total Show" of the '60s. The film surely captured the climate of the 60s, using elements of drama, vaudeville, musical, news, sports and travel report.
Pfleghar's ambition was to present a modern Romeo And Juliet, using contemporary-modern TV semiology to make it arty (and rather pretentious). The two protagonists followed the dramatic Shakespearean storyline, but, quite anachronistically, they also regularly consulted celebrities on what to do next, to avoid the expected dramatic outcome of the steadily developing tragedy. One of these celebs was Ray Charles. I remember him sitting at his piano, offering a piece of advise to Julia, and singing a few bits.

Hampton Fancher played the role of Romeo Müller, and Tina Sinatra - at the time living together with director Michael Pfleghar in Munich - played Julia Smith. Among the other guest artists were The Bee Gees, the Kessler Twins, the Dutch singer Liesbeth List, Eartha Kitt, Jerry Lewis, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, but there were also sequences with public figures like Christiaan Bernard, Hugh Hefner, Richard Nixon, Queen Sirikit, Gunter Sachs, Wernher von Braun, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
The filming locations were Bali, Bangkok, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Nevada, Washington DC, and Ray's RPM Studios in Los Angeles.

In a 2017 (double-)interview, Fancher claims a much more active role in the production of Romeo Und Julia. He remembered the central theme as "How would Romeo and Juliet succeed in falling in love in a world with so much against them? You know, with all the distractions - political, financial, ambition, all that. Romeo And Juliet couldn't happen in 1968 was the idea. [...]
So it was taking this young guy and this young girl who both were innocent and then the narrative was him achieving certain goals and how they became corrupted. It wasn't a strict script, it was improvised a lot. It was like, I would talk to Nixon or I would talk to Frank Sinatra or ask questions. It was then about the fall of our relationship to our death. It opens up with a scene in our coffins in a graveyard and then it goes back. It was ridiculous and yet it had a conceit that was really interesting.
[Pfleghar's film] was made in the cutting room. We went around the world two times. You know, he had endless money, small crew. I wrote a lot of it. It was adventurous. I shot some of it. It was fun.
It didn't get released in America. It was almost released theatrically but then something happened. It was popular in Europe on television. At that time it was the biggest seen event on television. They did it two nights running."
In the same (double-)interview Michael Almereyda suggests that the footage is still around somewhere: "We found a copy".

A German jazz photo enthusiast published a hitherto unknown photo reportage on Flickr. This is how he described his lucky find: "These are proofs I found at the trade market Ostbahnhof. The seller told me, the shots were taken at Geiselgasteig [in] 1967 during a session with German film producer Michael Pfleghar [Gieselgasteig is the ,film city' to the south of Munich, the head office of Bavaria Film - BS]. Since I could'nt find any of these pictures anywhere on the net, I post them on Flickr."
I found out that the photos were made by Peter Brüchmann. The pictures were "making of" shots (in the last photo we see Michael Pfleghar) from the Romeo Und Julia shooting with Ray, at his RPM studios in Los Angeles. See the slideshow on Flickr - here. Or admire the astounding quality of the pics below:

Ray Charles - Preparing for foto session?

Ray Charles - what a face!
Raelette Susaye Greene, then Ray's sweetheart, left:
Ray Charles - Dreaming background singer

Ray Charles - Cool Rodenstock glasses

Ray Charles - as we know him
Edgar Willis in the back:
Ray Charles - At the piano

Ray Charles - During Gig in the Studio

Ray Charles - Always in good mood

Ray Charles - shout it out!

Ray Charles
Tina Sinatra in the middle:
Ray Charles - and (i assume) girlfriend of Mr. Pfleghar at the left

Ray Charles - Crop of shot before

Ray Charles - Background - Mr. Pfleghars wife?

Ray Charles - Everything´s very relaxed
Hampton Fancher left, Michael Pfleghar right (Edgar Willis in the background):
Ray Charles - Michael Pfleghaar at the right.

This picture was was auctioned in 2019 (slightly distorted, from weak print):

02 December 2010

Ray Charles In Alta Classa (1992)

Alta Classa was a series of twelve 2-hour programs broadcast by RAI Uno in 1991 - 1992. It had a dual format: the first part was a show, the second part a portrait based on interviews with the star, and with people who knew the protagonist well.
On 7 January 1992 Ray Charles was the star in a show that was also a tribute to Sergio Bernardini, a famous Italian impresario who, many years before, was the first to bring Ray to an Italian stage (and who, oddly, was also one of the producers of this show; also see this show from '84).
To handle the 300 million lire budget, RAI Uno had the format sponsored by the municipality of Versilia (where the show was staged) and the province of Tuscany. The show was probably taped in December 1991, when Ray also did a concert in Turin.
I've seen a 13-minute recap of the '92 show. It seems to have had a This Was Your Life-like format, where Bernardini surprised Ray with guests to do duets with, and other acts - all on stage. I saw snippets from I Can't Stop Loving YouGood Love Gone Bad (with Toto Cutogno), Crying Time (with Fausto Leali), a long interview - also on stage - by Bernardini, a fragment of a gospel group, a full version of Precious Thing in a duet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and O Sole Mio in a duet with Lina Sastri (the RAI website offers that whole song).
Other guests were Sugar, Pino Daniele, Renzo Arbore, Roberto Murali, Gassman, and Gino Paoli. The program was presented by Gianni Minà. The critic of La Stampa wasn't too positive about the show. He asked himself, "[...] why does Minà ask the audience for applause when Ray Charles confesses to have five grandchildren? And what is the point, after a response from Ray Charles, to come up with a 'See, even a genius has moments of emotion'?"
RAI released the show part on a 68-minute VHS (see illustration above; it's sometimes for sale on Ebay).

Ray Charles - A Man And His Soul (1983)

Ray Charles - A Man And His Soul, A 40th Anniversary Celebration was a 2-hour special television tribute, celebrating Ray's 40 years in show business, taped at the Cocoanut Grove club in LA in the early summer of 1983, produced for national syndication by The Dick Clark Company for Multimedia Entertainment. The show was directed by Gene Weed.
People from 5 September 1983 announced that "At 52, Ray Charles is still hitting the ivories and belting out the blues with timeless authority. And to celebrate his 40th year as a performer of jazz and soul, 500 of Charles' friends and fellow musicians showed up [...]".
Among those who sang Charles' praises were Glen Campbell (duet), Lou Rawls (duet), Engelbert Humperdinck (duet), Dottie West (duet, and another song with Ray and Mickey; see photo below), Joe Cocker (duet), Andrae Crouch (duet as seen in photo from Jet magazine from 19 September 1983, and duet with choir), Dick Clark, Mickey Gilley (duet), and there were special appearances by Rev. James Cleveland, Quincy Jones, Barbara Mandrell, Smokey Robinson, and - by prerecorded message - Stevie Wonder, doing Hallelujah, I Love Ray So.
The show was filmed during two consecutive nights (the band wore black tuxes on the first night and white tuxes on the second).
Also look here for a contemporary news paper article with photos from the show, implying an earliest-known air date of 30 October 1983.

The order of the songs is yet unclear to me. Below I've clustered them based on stage specs and what Ray was wearing, and - partially - following a messy video edit of parts of the show.
The identified songs were on YouTube the last time that I checked on them:
* Sequences from Stevie Wonder's song were accidentally also filmed, from different angles, for the documentary I Love Quincy (1984).

Musicians: Mark Curry, Dean Congin, Robbie Kwock, Phil Guilbeau - trumpets; Mayo Tiana, John Boice, Scott Fisher, Dana Hughes - trombones; Clifford Solomon, Brian Mitchell, Rudy Johnson, Don Wilkerson, Louis Van Taylor - saxophones; James Polk - piano, Eugene Ross - guitar, Roger Hines - bass, Ricky Kirkland - drums. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchell, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.
*Information kindly provided by Robbie Kwock and Steve Sigmund.

The segment with Glen Campbell: