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21 December 2011

There's A Ray Charles Riot Going On (1960)

Documentary footage about the on-tour adventures of the Ray Charles troupe is extremely rare. This makes a news clip from 1960 even more special.
In a comment to this article, a reader has convincingly established that the footage of this clip was shot in Portland, at and around the local Palais Royale Ballroom. These riots happened on September 4, 1960.
A newspaper article (right), from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of September 5, reported in more detail about the events.

The 51-second B/W news flash is archived by Global Image Works, who erroneously attribute the event to the Palais Royale Ballroom audience riots that took place "[...] in Bakersfield in January 1961, when a show didn't go on [...]. Police are called to break up crowd. Shots of police dragging away people to squad cars, broken windshields, poster announcing Ray Charles show, forcible arrests, spraying crowd with fire hose. No shots inside auditorium."

In these years Ray had somewhat of a reputation for turning up late, allegedly due to his drugs habit - sometimes leading to riotous behavior of the crowds.

This video is only visible for readers of this documentary blog. Please don't share the Youtube link outside this context.

Clippings of other riots:


  1. Howdy Mr S.
    I looked at this video once before and am 90% sure footage IS from Portland OR. There's a point in the clip where you can read the flyer saying the performance was Sept 3, plus the Palais Royale building reportedly had both a laundry and chinese restuarant, which you can also see in the clip. I think Bakersfield description got misapplied somewhere...

  2. Very convincing detective work. I'm taking over your attribution to Portland. Thnx!