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

30 November 2011

Ray Charles Live In Viareggio (1976)

In earlier posts I've described how some of Ray Charles' concerts (in 1979 and in 1984) in Viareggio were covered by Italian TV (and possibly also radio). This article in the newspaper Unita implies that an earlier performance, on 3 August 1976, was also televized by Rai Uno - on 16 September of that same year. I assume that this program has not survived.

Who knows more?

Ray Charles Live Over Radio At The Ann Arbor Festival (1973)

Photo by Cecil Lockard.
On 7 and 8 September 1973 the 4th Ann Arbor Blues And Jazz Festival took place at Otis Spann Memorial Field. The festival had been inaugurated by the University of Michigan in 1969, but was canceled in 1971. In 1972 the festival was successfully revived, and in 1973 the new organizers felt its programming was strong enough for a nation-wide live radio broadcast by NPR (over WILL AM and FM). The Ray Charles Show wound up the festival and the radio program on the Saturday evening. The entire festival was also broadcast by local station KUT-FM and KUNC, the University of Colorado's radio station, as part of a fundraiser (sources: Greeley Daily Tribune, Waterloo Iowa Daily Courier, 7 Sep. 1973).

A kind spirit provided me with some decent copies of six tracks that were performed during this concert (probably originating from the radio broadcast mentioned above).
Mr. Kip Brown submitted some great intelligence about what went on during Brother Ray's concert, and shared the correct set list. The best news is that the whole performance by the Ray Charles troupe has survived:
  1. Unidentified instrumental
  2. Intro
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Busted
  5. Hey Mister
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. I Feel So Bad
  8. He Called Me Baby (All Night Long) (with The Raelettes)
  9. I Can Make It Through The Days (But Oh Those Lonely Nights)
  10. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  11. Love Train (The Raelettes)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You (incomplete due to sound problems)
  13. Shake (The Raelettes)
  14. Every Saturday Night
  15. Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong
  16. Louise
  17. What'd I Say
  18. Let's Go Get Stoned
#1 - see comments below.
Review in Cashbox,
Sep. 22, 1973.
#5 is a unique live versions, only known from the album Message From The People (it could've been a perfect protest song for the Occupy movement!).
Tune #8, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long), is the only known recorded performance by The Raelettes of this country song (written in 1962 by Harlan Howard). The Patsy Cline's version from 1963 was probably best known, but I guess this version by The Raelettes came closer to Candy Staton's record (Fame #1476) from 1970 (listen to clip, below), ...although the gorgeous version by Ella Washington (a #77 Pop/#38 R&B hit released by Sound Stage 7 in 1969; listen to clip, below) is also a worthy contender [but see Kip Brown's 3d comment].
#15, Louise, is a marvelously souled up version of the original release. I think if this version would have been released as a single, it could have been a much bigger hit.

Musicians: Greg Abate, Claude Johnson - alto saxophone; Wilbur Brown, James Clay - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - bariton saxophone; Dan Ackerman, Phil Guilbeau, Walter Miller, Tony Horowitz - trumpet; Glenn Childress, Don Switzer, Ken Tussing, Craig Woods - trombone; John Henderson - organ;  Harvey Sarch - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Scott von Ravensberg - drums. Raelettes: Dorothy Berry, Denise Jackson, Mable John, Vernita Moss, Madelyn Quebec.*
*   Based on notes provided by Joël Dufour, and comments by Tony Horowitz.  

Patsy Cline, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):

Ella Washington, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):

From Ann Arbor Sun, April 23.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, July 12, 1973.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, Aug. 8, 1973.
More promotion materials here.

29 November 2011

Ray Charles On 20/20 (1981)

On 12 November 1981 the ABC news magazine 20/20 - which  offered investigative journalism items and entertainment features - had a documentary item on Ray Charles, made by correspondent Bob Brown. Through an interview with the Genius, cross-edited with new footage from Greenville, a few contemporary sequences from concerts, and Ray's performance before the Georgia State legislature, the feature focused on the usual biographical mantras.

Most of the concert segments showed fragments of a gig that must have been recorded a few years before, with a selection of Ray's biggest all-time hits (I've Got A Woman, What'd I Say, I Can't Stop Loving You, Georgia), but also with a beautiful brief finale of Am I Blue, with Johnny Coles (whose last stint with the band was in '79).
Also unexpectedly, for a few seconds we see Ray working in his studio, experimenting with a recording of Little Drummer Boy.

This clip promoted the 10-year anniversary special for 20/20 that was broadcast on June 9, 1988:

26 November 2011

Ray Charles Ft. In Schaefer Radio Show (1972)

  Ad in New York Amsterdam News,
Dec. 16, 1972.  
Schaefer, a beer brand, had already been sponsoring their eponymous music festival in New York for a few years, when, in 1972, they also initiated a series of heavily advertised radio shows - titled The Schaefer Circle Of Stars - around African American stars on WBLS-FM, hosted by Frankie Crooker.

Ray Charles was featured in the episode that aired on December 15.

Who knows some more about the format of the show?

Who's That Girl?

A photo in the New York Amsterdam News of August 3, 1963. Ray, as far as I know, did not have a daughter called Barbara. And the girl doesn't really look like an 11-year old.

So who is she?

23 November 2011

Ray Charles In TV Campaign For New Mexico Powerball Lottery (2002)

At the set, checking
the wrists of the Paylettes.
From 2000 to 2002 Ray Charles contributed to a substantial series of state lottery campaigns. For the Oregon campaign and a story on Ray's wider involvement with the Powerball brand, read this earlier article. The Oregon Lottery also ran the campaign shown below.
For my post on the New Jersey Lottery, and a story on Ray's involvement in several other State lottery campaigns, see this. For the Georgia Lottery, read this, and check this article for the Wisconsin Lottery campaign.
The New Mexico and Oregon campaigns entailed a series of five commercials, all with musical and visual variations on the jingle's theme It's America's Game (The One And Only PowerBall). The New Mexico campaign ran in 2002, and was marketed in English and Spanish.

Rock 'n Roll theme:

Country theme (with the Paylettes):

Contemporary pop theme (taped at RPM with the Paylettes):

Jazz theme:

R&B theme (with the Paylettes):

20 November 2011

Ray Charles Sings Reaching For The Dream, A Jingle For UNCF (1977)

In a recent update of my post on Ray's contributions to the Parade Of Stars telethons for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund), I wrote about an undated PSA, archived by the Paley Center for Media, where "Ray Charles explains in a jingle that a whole new generation [of black students] is 'reaching for the dream that spells tomorrow.'"

This infomercial was part of a long running campaign with the evergreen-slogan "A mind is a terrible thing to waste", created in 1971 by Y&R.  Sheldon Harris, in Blues Who's Who specifies that these commercials ran in 1977 - 1978, the sixth campaign year.

Ray Charles expert Joël Dufour informed me that the jingle was the soundtrack of an infomercial that was distributed (I assume only to media) on 8mm film (in 60 and 30 second versions). Ray did not appear in the film.

UNCF, probably as part of the same action to get TV and radio stations involved in airing these materials, also ordered for a small quantity of DJ-only 45RPM singles.*
The commercial was directed by Gordon Parks; the jingle penned by Bill Eaton (cf. comments). The campaign was kicked off in April.

I have submitted the track of this single to YouTube:

In a comment on YouTube, Stefanie Pezzino wrote: "From [what] I remember, the commercial features a boy on his way to the library. There was another boy walking beside him at one point on crutches. For reasons unknown, the part in the commercial where the handicapped boy & girl [were] dancing together with braces on their ankles gave me nightmares. All [in] all, great campaign with a great message! Would love to see it again."

* Has anybody ever seen a physical copy of this single; does anybody know an embeddable source for the actual film versions?

Update 22 January 2019:
Here's the commercial seen by Ms. Pezzino:

17 November 2011

Ray Charles Sings America The Beautiful At World Series (2001)

Who's that?
The weeks after 9/11 the American airwaves were filled with patriotic songs. Ray's America The Beautiful got tremendous airplay.

On 28 October 2001 he performed the song during game 2 of the World Series, at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field) in Phoenix, where the Arizona Diamondbacks played against (and beat) the New York Yankees. The photos seem to imply that Ray performed one or two songs more.

The match was aired by Fox. I assume the clip below comes from one of the DVDs offered here.
About one month after 9/11 the Today Show covered the song's (and Ray's) renewed popularity.

05 November 2011

Ray Charles' First Time In Concert At The Olympia In Paris (1962)

In 1961 his two triumphant concert series in France (first with his small big band in Antibes, then with his orchestra in Paris) had given Ray Charles a semi-devine status in France. But when he returned to Paris on 17 May 1962 the word-of-mouth had done its work, and the "semi" was gone. The welcoming crowd of fans and journalist - headed by the local megastar Johnny Hallyday - at Orly Airport treated him "tel un dieu", like a god.
You only have to see the article in Cinémonde and the photos reproduced below - and here, here and here - to understand the impact that his return made.

From Cinémonde magazine, 29 May 1962. 
From the 17th to the 22nd the Ray Charles group performed another totally sold out and very well received concert series at l'Olympia in Paris. There is proof that the French radio was present to record some of these (read this article for an update).  - but the evidence so far is only one track long (a version of Lil' Darlin'*). I wouldn't be surprised if more tapings were stored in the vaults of Ina, or other archives. The set lists in Paris of course may have come close to the Berlin concert in March 1962.
The Paris personnel was not too different from the October '61 line-up. I guess everybody wanted to experience (again) what it was like to be world famous in France: Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - trumpets; Henderson Chambers, James Harbert, Keg Johnson, Leon Comegys - trombones; Hank Crawford, Rudy Powell - alto saxophones; David Newman - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute; Don Wilkerson - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Bruno Carr - drums. The Raelettes were the same group of girls as in '61: Pat Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry, and Darlene McCrea.

This poster is probably from 1962 (but could also be from 1963 or 1964).

Souvenir program, most probably from these concert series at the Olympia. "Twist Panorama" refers to a locally released compilation album carrying that title (Vega LP33), with songs by "Ray Charles, son orchestre et les Raelets", Maxine Brown, Lloyd price, Jon Thomas, The Barkays, and Jo Ann Campbell. 
 Keg Johnson is erroneously credited as a trumpeter; the other trombonists are missing in the line-up published here.

Coll. J.P. Verger.

Reception (precise date unknown) at the Club d'Étoile, organized by Vega, the local records distrubutor. Left: Bruno Coquatrix, owner of the Olympia; right: Eddie Barclay of Vega.

This photo was shot on or shortly after the 17th - backstage (source says incorrectly: at La Salle Pleyel).
*Information kindly provided by J.P. Verger.

04 November 2011

The Montreux 1997 Bonus: 3 Ray Charles Orchestra Pieces

The concert in Montreux on July 19th, 1997 is one of the best documented shows of the Ray Charles group. The concert was videotaped with 7 or 8 cameras, the sound recording had studio quality, and the show's director didn't miss a beat, editing an entirely relevant final montage of luscious close-ups and wider shots.
All music footage seems to have survived, including all four instrumentals that were played by the Ray Charles Orchestra that night.* (Only circulating among fans, there's even a few minutes of documentary video of the stage preparations).
The Blu-ray edition of the concert (Eagle Rock, 2008) has a unique interview with Ray, where he comments on all tracks that were part of the basic edition. As a second bonus this rare DVD also presents three more  instrumentals by the Ray Charles Orchestra:

1. Just Friends (solos by Steve Elliott, Ken Scharf)
2. Beatrice (solos by Wayne Coniglio, David Hoffman)
3. Pas-Se-O-Ne Blues (solos by Rudy Johnson, David Hoffman, Ken Scharf)

#1, Just Friends arranged by Bob Florence.
#2, Beatrice arranged by Wayne Coniglio).
# 3, Pas-Se-O-Ne Blues, was first taped for the album My Kind Of Jazz (1970), but this remains the only known live recording. The beautiful solo by Rudy Johnson on Pas-Se-O-Ne is essential jazz history. Johnson played with the band for a quarter of a century, but precious few of his solos have been captured on video.

Ted Murdock, Roger Ingram, David Hoffman, Ken Scharf - trumpets; Mike Guerrier, Steve Sigmund, Clay Lawrey, Wayne Coniglio - trombones; Al Waters, Al Jackson, Steve Elliott, Rudy Johnson, James Farnsworth - saxophones; Kenny Carr - guitar; Tom Fowler - bass; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards; Peter Turre - drums.

*The 4th instrumental was David Hoffman's Forty Pound Limit, which was part of the basic DVD release; see this