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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.

1 comment :

  1. bonjour Bob

    La personne à la droite de Ray Charles st Bruno Coquatrix ,proprietaire de "l'Olympia" ou Ray Charles jouait pour la Première fois en 1962.'{photo :Reception at the club Etoile....}JPV