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27 December 2012

Ray Charles Live In Moscow (1994)

Announcement on the Russian
 torrent website [name withheld].
Through the Jazz On The Screen database I was aware of  two concerts by Ray Charles at the Russia Concert Hall in Moscow on 13 and 14 July 1994, sponsored by Alfa-Bank, and of the fact that the second one, directed by Sergei Antipov, was recorded for TV. The Ray Charles concerts were part of the  2nd Annual Moscow Jazz Festival.

A Russian torrent website not only adds a few details to that description (i.e. that the TV show was aired by RTR, and that the concert was also - simultaneously, as it turns out - broadcast by "Prestige" radio), it also offers a possibility to download the concert!
Sergei Antipov, sitting at an editing console, introduced the viewers to different sequences of the show. Ray's presence in Moscow was clearly a big event. The footage starts with a reportage from a press conference at Hotel Metropol, where Ray - at his charming best - expresses his clearly genuine gratitude for being invited to Moscow for the first time in his career. Further on in the program, we see a number of street interviews with members of the audience.
The concert footage comes from the show on July 14th. Ray, the band and The Raelettes were in great shape that night. Tonette McKinney's rendition of the Donny Hathaway tune Giving Up (#14) is a marvel (watch below).

The setlist* was:
  1. Metamorphosis (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos Ernest Vantrease - kb; Curt Weiss - tp, Al Jackson - as)
  2. Intro RC
  3. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  4. Busted
  5. Georgia On My Mind
  6. Mississippi Mud
  7. How Long Has This Been Going On (solo David Hoffman - tp)
  8. Teardrops From My Eyes (solo Al Waters - ts)
  9. Yours
  10. Blues For Big Scotia
  11. A Song For You
  12. Intro Raelettes (by RC)
  13. Rock Steady (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  14. Giving Up (ft Tonette McKinney)
  15. Hit The Road Jack
  16. I Can't Stop Loving You
  17. What'd I Say (intro: Gonna Keep On Singin')
  18. Outro
Musicians: Larry Foyen, Kurt Weiss, David Hoffman, Kenny Scharf - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Marc Fields, Pete Beltran - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson - alto saxophones; Al Waters, Rudy Johnson - tenor saxophones; Jim Farnsworth - baritone saxophone; Peter Turre - drums; Steve Gregory - guitar; Tom Fowler - bass; Ernest Vantrease - piano, organ. The Raelettes: Elaine Woodard, Tonette McKinney, Estelle Yarbrough, Renee Collins Georges, Angela Workman.
* Many thanks to David Hoffman for attributing the solos and completing the line-up.

Metamorphosis (Ray Charles Orchestra):

Giving Up (Tonette McKinney):

Rhythm section: Peter Turre - d; Steve Gregory - g; Tom Fowler - b; Ernest
Vantrease - o. The other Raelettes: Elaine Woodard, Estelle Yarbrough, Renee
Collins Georges, Angela Workman.

On 15 July CBS' Early Show covered the event with an item under the title Ray Charles performs at 2nd Annual Jazz Festival in Moscow (source here). The AP Archive has databased another news item (originally from Worldwide Television News, a company they bought), first aired on 18 July 1994, showing how Ray Charles arrives in Moscow, then has a press conference, and then performs.
Also read this article in the Moscow Times.

01 December 2012

Joe Smith' Interview With Ray Charles Now Online (1987)

While president of Capitol Records/EMI, Joe Smith recorded 238 hours of interviews with noted record artists and executives for his book, Off the Record: An Oral History Of Popular Music (1989). He donated this collection to the Library of Congress, who are digitizing the rough tapes, as a part of their Recorded Sound Research Center.

The first batch of 25 interviews has now been made accessible online, including a 32-minute interview with Ray Charles, taped on 3 June 1987 (in 2 parts: A, B). Ray tells nothing new, but he's candid and entertaining as always.

Watch this for an entertaining animated selection of quotes from this interview:

17 November 2012

Ray Charles Promoting A Smithsonian Exhibition (1996)

In 1996 Ray Charles contributed to a promotion for the America's Smithsonian exhibition national tour, celebrating the 150th anniversary of this institute.

The Smithsonian keeps photos (collection ID# SIA Acc 97-074) and VHS tapes (SIA Acc. 05-058) of the event.

(Since 2005, the Smithsonian also displays a rather sinister permanent exposition of RC memorabilia).

Ray Charles In Paris (1984)

On 29 and 30 October 1984 Ray Charles performed at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, where he was interviewed for Pathé by Michel Jonasz. The Gaumont Pathé archives keep a "3:29" reel, also including footage of Ray performing Georgia, and a cassette of rushes (ID# 124, 124 Rush); including that footage the reel appears to be close to 5 minutes long.
Stills from the Gaumont Pathé archives.

Ray Charles In Oslo (1968)

On January 6, 1969 a Norwegian (radio or TV?) station aired a 50-minute Ray Charles concert, taped at the Njårdhallen in Oslo. Almost certainly, this concert was recorded the year before, on September 25, 1968. During that show, just as in Amsterdam (and probably at other venues during the European tour), a 21-year old local tenorist sub'ed in the sax section: Jan Garbarek - despite being a bit nervøs.

I'm afraid the program did not survive.

11 November 2012

Six Instrumentals From The Mexico Concert (1975)

On 6 and 7 December 1975 the Ray Charles group played a series of concerts in Mexico City. I wrote earlier about a 'board mix' version of Cherry, but it turns out that all of the instrumentals that were performed by the Ray Charles Orchestra have also survived, coming from the same tape recording. The sound quality isn't great, but the jazz is marvelous.
  1. Sister Sadie (Johnny Coles and Leroy Cooper played the head; Leroy Cooper - solo bs)
  2. Samba De Elencia (Andy Ennis - solo ts; Ken Tussing - solo tb; Clifford Solomon - fill on last chord)
  3. Unidentified instrumental (Johnny Coles and Clifford Solomon played the head; Johnny Coles - solo plunger trumpet; Clifford Solomon - solo as; Ernie Vantrease, solo p)
  4. Morning Of Carnival (Dave Boyle - solo bass tb; Johnny Coles, solo flugel)
  5. Spain (Jack Evans - opening flugel, solo tp; Ed Pratt, solo as)
  6. Blowing The Blues Away (Jack Evans [or Waymon Reed?*] - solo tp; Leroy Cooper - solo bs; James Clay, Andy Ennis - solos ts; Bob Coassin - solo screech tp)
* Jack Evans, who also contributed the other notes to the tunes, as mentioned above, remembers that Reed "[...] joined the band for a very short time when we returned from the 1975 Australia/Japan tour. [...] We had met Waymon earlier in the year in NY, and he expressed a strong interest to play with RC if the opportunity came up."

#3 was a funky & funny tune yet to be identified; Coles' solo on plunger trumpet is a rare feat. #4 (Morning Of Carnival a.k.a. Manhã De Carnaval and Black Orpheus) is the only known live version of this tune by the Ray Charles band; it was first released on the Jazz II album (1973); it's also the only known taping of a solo by Dave Boyle as a band member.

#3 Unidentified instrumental:

07 November 2012

Ray Charles Singing More Love Than Ordinary In Manor Commercial (1999)

Ad by one of Manor's retail chains.
Groupe Manor is a Swiss retail group. In 1999 they broadcast a Millennium commercial. The agency was Frei. Partner. The production company was Wirz Fraefel Paal. The film was shot at Studio Primetime in Zürich; directed by Ernst Wirz, creative direction by Mäni Frei, Martin Furhrer held the camera.*
During the campaign period all Manor stores sold Christmas candles, with the proceeds (SSF 150,000) donated to the charity organization Swiss Solidarity.  There must have been more versions of the TV commercial with French and Italian (and maybe even Rhaeto-Romanic) voice-overs.
* Many thanks to Levente Paal for details.

The song was originally written by Francis Cabrel (a B-side of a single released in 1986) as Il Faudra Leur Dire (cf. this Youtube clip), and adapted in English by (Ray's longtime French girlfriend) Arlette Kotchounian. It was added as a bonus track to a (French?) (re?)release of Ray's album My World (Disk ID: 1674286*). Ray's original audio version, with Ray even singing a line in French, can be listened to here (and through the soundclip below).

* This source dates CD in 1993, the year of the original release; I assume the re-release with this bonus track was from 1999 or 2000.

1999 commercial:

Soundclip of the bonus track:

26 October 2012

Ray Charles Live In Copenhagen (1972)

Up till now we only knew an 87-seconds clip from Going Down Slow, but the Danish public TV website DR has suddenly brought the complete, unabridged, Tivoli concert recording of October 10, 1972 online. You can watch all of it here.

  1. Nothing Wrong (Ray Charles Orchestra) (Mike Conlon - ct; James 'Heavy' Clay - ts; Steve Turre - tb)
  2. Intro
  3. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  4. Georgia On My Mind (Andy Ennis - ft)
  5. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Wanna Do It)
  6. Yesterday (Edgar Willis - b) 
  7. Feel So Bad (Ralph Byrd - g; John Henderson - o)
  8. Going Down Slow (1st time)
  9. Going Down Slow (2nd time)
  10. Intro Raelettes
  11. Rock Steady (ft. Estella Yarbrough)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You
  13. Look What They Have Done To My Song, Ma
  14. Indian Love Call (ft. Susaye Greene)
  15. Rant
  16. Eleanor Rigby
  17. Introduction John Henderson
  18. Shake (with The Raelettes)
  19. Ray introducing Raelettes by name, in call and response improv; ft Mable John, Estella Yarbrough, Susaye Greene, Dorothy Berry, and Vernita Moss with a great sample of:
  20. Leave My Man Alone (partial; ft Vernita Moss)
  21. Introduction band
  22. So Soon (with John Henderson) + What'd I Say
  23. Outro
The band, announced by Ray as "The foundation
of our group"  takes a bow (video still).
The concert went on in a very slow pace, had some very good music (specially #6, and - with a remarkable repetition - #8/#9), but also had a few awkward elements. The oddest incident was an incredibly rude rant (#15) where Ray made fun (well... kind of fun) of someone in the audience who only tried to answer one of his rhetoric questions. Ray's extensive, bawdy introduction of The Raelettes (#19, leading to a great partial performance of #20) and the special  intro of the band (#21; "I might be the tower [...]", but the band is "the foundation of this group") both were unique.

The instrumental (#1) was recorded later for the album My Kind Of Jazz Part III (1975); in December '72 another live performance of the tune was filmed in Tel Aviv.

The show was aired in Denmark on August 8, 1978 (or was this a corruption for 1973, as the new DR-page seems to imply?), under the title 'The Genius koncert'.
Historic Films (file Dr-8) archived a 1 h 47 m copy dated 1 March (sic!) 1972. For a radio interview by Swedish national radio dated on or around 1 March 1972 (which may be a corruption for October 10 as well), listen here.

Musicians: Mike Conlon (ct), Tommy Cortez, Joe Mitchell, ?Tommy Turrentine?, Tony Farrell - trumpets; Glenn Childress, Al (Sanifu) Hall, Fred Murrell, Steve Turre - trombones; James Clay, Don Garcia - alto saxophones; Andy Ennis - tenor saxophone, flute; Fred Smith - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone, band leader; John Henderson - organ, piano; Ralph Byrd - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; John Perrett - drums. The Raelettes: Vernita Moss, Mable John, Susaye Greene, Dorothy Berry, Estella Yarbrough.

10 October 2012

Ray & Dee Dee Performing Precious Thing & O Sole Mio In Italian TV Show (c 1989)

Around 1990 Ray Charles and Dee Dee Bridgewater performed their duet Precious Thing several times in French and Italian concerts and TV shows. The clip below is from an Italian show, presented by Pippo Baudo and Renzo Arbore; this may well have been an episode in Baudo's Rai 2 TV Show series Serata d'Onore.
They also performed a short (as usual, in Ray's case!) version of O Sole Mio (for other occasions where they sang these tunes, see this and this).

'89c TV Dee Dee:

19 September 2012

Ray Charles At The North Sea Jazz Festival (1980)

Live Concert: Northsea Jazz Festival, Prins Willem Alexanderzaal, Congresgebouw, The Hague – July 13, 1980.
Period: The Tangerine/Crossover/Atlantic Years (1973 – 1980).
Artist: Ray Charles (with The Raeletts, The Ray Charles Orchestra).
Label: Unissued.

Ray Charles - vocals, piano, electric piano; Mitch Manker, Doug Crescimano, Tom Swayzee, Doug Martin - trumpets; Art Velasco, Dan Marcus, Papo Vázquez, Steve Davis - trombones; Ricky Woodard, Clifford Solomon, Ira Weinstein, Rudy Johnson, Mark Roland - saxophones; Tony Matthews - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Peter Turre - drums; James Polk - keyboards. Raeletts: Estella Yarbrough, Pat Peterson, Madelyn Quebec, Trudy Cohran, Avis Harrell - vocals, background vocals.

1st concert
1. Project S (Ray Charles Orchestra)
2. Riding Thum
3. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It
4. Georgia On My Mind
5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
6. Just Because
7. Some Enchanted Evening
8. Don't You Love Me Anymore
9. Love Is What We Need (ft. Estella Yarbrough)
10. Knock On Wood (ft. Trudy Cohran)
11. I Can't Stop Loving You
12. I Can See Clearly Now
13. This Time (I'll Be The Fool) (ft. Madelyn Quebec)
14. I'm Gonna Keep On Singin'15. What'd I Say

2nd concert
1. Metamorphosis (Ray Charles Orchestra)
2. Let The Good Times Roll
3. Georgia On My Mind
4. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
5. How Long Has This Been Going On (solo: Tony Matthews - g)
6. Feel So Bad (solo: Tony Matthews - g)
7. She Knows (solo: Curtis Ohlson - b)
8. I Want Your Love (ft Estella Yarbrough)
9. Do It To Me Slow (ft Pat Peterson; solo: Tony Matthews - g)
10. Crying Time (ft Madelyn Quebec; intro with There's A Long Long Trail A-Winding)
11. You Are My Sunshine (ft Trudy Cohran)
12. Stormy Monday (solo: Tony Matthews - g)
13. What'd I Say

  1. TV recording produced by AVRO. Directed by Theo Ordeman. Parts of program hosted live by Pim Jacobs. Only tracks #4, 5 and 9 of the second concert were broadcast (late night on Oct. 13, 1980) on Dutch TV. In 2016 AVRO shared track #16 of the first concert on YouTube. Reelin' In The Years offers licenses to 23 separated tracks. Source materials: Beeld- & Geluid-Archief, ID #97039. 1st concert is stored on two tapes: a) #1 - #9; b) #9 [damaged copy] - #18. Track #15 has a brief glitch (prob. repairable by good editor). The messy start of the 1st concert was caused by a discussion between Ray Charles and the Festival people. Ray said (i.e. pretended) he didn’t agree to a TV recording, and demanded extra payment although the promotor produced a contract including a TV clause, signed by Ray’s management. After 20 minutes (and the audience becoming impatient) the Genius was able to pocket the extra money, $5,000, provided in cash by the sponsor, in hard cash.
  2. In the second concert #9 (Do It To Me Slow) is the only known full version of this song (in an excellent performance featuring Pat Peterson); for many years the main theme of the song was used as the introduction 'jingle' for the walk-on of The Raeletts. The tune was arranged by Ray Charles and James Polk. Ray gave #10 (Crying Time) a unique little intro with a citation from There's A Long Long Trail A-WindingStormy Monday (#12) got an excellent - slowwww - rendition, reminiscent of the brilliant version known from the 1975 concert in Madrid (both times with Tony Matthews doing his magic on guitar!). Remarkably, I Can't Stop Loving You, was not performed - a rarity.
  3. Doug Martin, Peter Turre and J.P. Verger helped to reconstruct the line-up.
1st concert, #8 (good copy):

1st concert, #8 [bad copy] - end:

1st concert, #11:

16 September 2012

Ray Charles In Concert At The Valley Forge Music Fair (1994)

On July 1, 1994 the Ray Charles group performed at the Valley Forge Music Fair, near Devon. The concert was recorded from the audience. The audio tape is of a decent quality.
Ray and the band sounded tight. The section with the Raelettes ("all 5") was unusually brief - often a sign of recent changes in the girls' line-up.
  1. High On The Hogg (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Unidentified Instrumental (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  3. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  4. Intro RC
  5. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  6. Busted
  7. Georgia On My Mind
  8. Mississippi Mud
  9. How Long Has This Been Going On
  10. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  11. Come Live With Me
  12. Blues For Big Scotia
  13. A Song For You
  14. Intro Raelettes (by RC)
  15. Chain Of Fools (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  16. I Can't Stop Loving You
  17. Gonna Keep On Singin'
  18. What'd I Say
  19. Outro

Ray Charles Live In Atlantic City (1996)

From 19 to 21 January 1996 Ray Charles played a series of symphony concerts at the Mark G. Etess Arena (in the Trump Taj Mahal), in Atlantic City. Ray flew in his orchestra's rhythm section - with Peter Turre on drums, Kenny Carr on guitar, and Curtis Ohlson on bass - and Victor Vanacore as a conductor. The show on the 19th was taped from the audience; the audio quality is reasonably good.
  1. MC's intro of rhythm section and conductor
  2. Intro Ray Charles
  3. It Hurts To Be In Love
  4. It Ain't Easy Being Green
  5. Let's Get Away From It All
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. Eleanor Rigby
  8. If I Could
  9. The Good Life
  10. Yesterday
  11. Blues For Big Scotia
  12. A Song For You
  13. All I Ever Need Is You
  14. America The Beautiful
  15. Outro

15 September 2012

Ray Charles Live At The Blue Note (1991)

Ad from New York
Amsterdam News, Oct. 26, 1991. 
From 22 to 27 October 1991 the Ray Charles group played a series of shows at the famous Blue Note club in New York ("reported to be the only nightclub in the world where Charles still performs").

One of the shows on the 26th was taped from the audience. I've listened to a cassette tape of very poor quality. The setlist was without surprises:
  1. Unidentified Instrumental
  2. Intro Ray Charles
  3. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Mississippi Mud
  6. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  7. Teardrops From My Eyes
  8. She Knows
  9. Feel So Bad
  10. Intro Raelettes
  11. Giving Up (ft Trudy Cohran)
  12. Smack Dab In The Middle
  13. I Can't Stop Loving You
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Outro

11 September 2012

Ray Charles In New Haven (1985)

Source: Topfoto.
On 8 June 1985 Ray Charles and his group gave a concert at the Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven. The show was taped from the audience. The audio quality is a little less than mediocre.

The setlist was:
  1. Project S (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Intro
  3. Let the Good Times Roll
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. How Long Has This Been Going On
  7. Intro Raelettes
  8. I Want Your Love (with The Raelettes)
  9. Anyway You Want To
  10. I Can't Stop Loving You
  11. I’m Gonna Keep On Singin’ + What'd I Say
  12. Outro
  13. America The Beautiful
  14. Walk-off
From Project S (#1) only one other live version (Madrid, 1975) has survived. #13 is a double surprise:  America The Beautiful was only part of the Ray Charles Orchestra's repertoire on and around the 4th of July (he also sang it frequently in his symphony gigs), and Ray 'never' (i.e. hardly ever) did encores.

08 September 2012

The Ray Charles - Yes Indeed DVD (2009)

Obvious errors in DVD's credits corrected in list below.
In 2009 Genesis published a limited edition book-and-DVD-set titled Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! [Book:] The Photographs Of Joe Adams; [DVD:] Performances by Ray Charles, presenting "the unseen archive of Ray's friend and manager".
Because I didn't feel any sympathy for this (Adams') vanity project, I never bought a copy. But I'm happy that since the set came out nearly all of the photos (many of them documenting backstage and set scenes from a number of Ray's appearances at TV shows, mostly spanning the late 1960s and the 1970s) have leaked to the internet.
A friend recently send me a copy of the DVD, confirming or reconfirming that this footage has survived in excellent condition, and enabling me to correctly describe the DVD's contents for the first time. The links lead to more extensive blog articles about this footage:
  1. Born To Lose - from The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (aired 9 April 1969)
  2. Georgia On My Mind + Yesterday/Blues In The Night/God Bless The Child/Hallelujah Love Her So (with Carol Burnett) - from The Carol Burnett Show (aired 26 January 1972)
  3. Crying Time (with Barbra Streisand) - from Barbra Streisand... And Other Musical Instruments (aired 2 November 1973)
  4. Heaven Help Us All  - from Soul Of The Holy Land - The Lost Concert (filmed December 1972)
  5. I Got A Woman  - from Saturday Night Live (aired 12 November 1977)
  6. I Believe To My Soul - ibid
  7. Them That Got - ibid
  8. Hit The Road Jack - ibid
  9. Half As Much - from Johnny Cash: Spring Fever (aired 7 May 1978)

02 September 2012

Ray Charles Live At Caneção In Rio (1990)

On 30 November 1990 the Ray Charles group flew in (with a delay, and problems with escalators and elevators at the airport and at his hotel, that made headlines in the local press) from Santiago de Chile to Rio de Janeiro. That same or the next night he gave a concert at the famous show venue Caneçao in Rio. The show was taped for TV (directed by Wagner Vieira), and an edited version was broadcast on December 16th by Rede Manchete.

Ray, the band, and the girls were in good shape, but the concert didn't entail any surprises. The show's credits listed the tunes that were played (with quite some mistakes that I've corrected below).
  1. Intro
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. Just For A Thrill (trumpet solo by Jeff Kaye)
  7. Teardrops From My Eyes
  8. Giving Up (ft Trudy Cohran)
  9. Smack Dab In The Middle
  10. I Can't Stop Loving You
  11. Lay Around And Love On You (All I Wanna Do Is --)
  12. Outro
Still from the TV program.
Obviously, What'd I Say was (and maybe more tunes were) omitted from the TV program.

Ray's band members and the girls were credited in the TV program, be it with some omissions and mistakes - corrected here:

Musicians: Chuck Parrish, ?Ted Murdock?, Kenny Rampton, Jeff Kaye - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Marc Fields, Wayne Coniglio - trombones; Al Jackson, Craig Bailey - alto saxophones; Rudy Johnson, Al Waters - tenor saxophones;  ?Scott Frillman? - baritone saxophone; David Rokeach - drums; Kenny Carr - guitar; Benoît Grey - bass; Ernest Vantrease - piano. The Raelettes: Kay Nickerson, Trudy Cohran, Angela Workman, Estella Yarbough.

29 August 2012

Al Hall's Times With The Ray Charles Orchestra (1971)

(Sanifu) Al Hall, Jr. was a trombonist in the Ray Charles Band in 1971 and 1972. Today he shared the first of his memories of this period in a great blog article, My times with the Ray Charles Orchestra. Recommended reading!

Ray Charles Live In San Carlos (1971)

In my last post I wrote about a recording of a Ray Charles & B.B. King concert at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, in late November of 1972. A reader remembered that a similar (audience) audio recording was made at the same location about a year earlier (the precise date is not known), this time just with the Ray Charles Group. The audio quality of the copy that I've listened to is reasonable.

The concert entailed quite a number of rare tunes.
  1. Golden Boy (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. The Sandblaster (intro; with Ray Charles Orchestra)
  3. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Feel So Bad
  6. The Long And Winding Road
  7. Intro Raelettes
  8. Bad Water (ft Mable John)
  9. Intro Booty Butt
  10. Booty Butt (with Ray Charles Orchestra and The Raelettes, tenor sax solo by Andy Ennis)
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You
  12. Intro to Leave My Man...
  13. Leave My Man Alone (with The Raelettes, ft Vernita Moss)
  14. Don't Change On Me
  15. Chain Of Fools (The Raelettes, ft Estella Yarbrough)
  16. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  17. You Have A Way With Me (The Raelettes, ft Susaye Greene)
  18. So Soon
  19. What'd I Say
The Ray Charles Band at a concert
in San Francisco, in December 1971
(photo by Robert Altman).
Ray was in one of his funny, talkative, moods that night. Golden Boy (#1) is the only known live recording of this instrumental from My Kind Of Jazz (released in April 1970). The Genius' introduction (#2) was accompanied by the usual tones, but this time in a full-length version. The tunes' title appears to be The Sandblaster, and it was written by Roger Neumann.*
Feel So Bad (#5) had an unusual sequence driven by audience hand clapping and drums. Uniquely, the four Raelettes were all introduced (#7) by their first name; Ray jokingly introduced their first song (#8) as Polluted Water. In the spoken intro to Booty Butt (#10) Ray mimicked a child asking his mother to pass on a special request: "I don't remember the name of the song, but it's something about your butt". It is the first known live version of this instrumental hit tune, which was first released on the My Kind Of Jazz album in April 1970, and was then brought out on a  45RPM in March 1971 (reaching #31 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and #13 on the R&B Chart).
Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma (#16) is also a first live version; this tune was part of the album A Message From The People (1972), making it a rare sample (i.e. after the 1950s) of a song that was performed on stage before it was released on vinyl. You Have A Way With Me (#18) is the first and only known live version of this song, released on the Raelettes album Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (1971). So Soon (#18) got an excellent rendition from Ray; it was never released on vinyl, and is only known from a few concerts in 1972 - 1973, where Ray performed it together with keyboardist John Henderson (who almost certainly did not contribute to this San Carlos concert). 
* Many thanks to Tony Horowitz.

The Raelettes were Susaye Greene, Mable John, Vernita Moss, and Estella Yarbrough. The line-up of the band must have been very similar to the known personnel of the October 1971 concerts at La Salle Pleyel in Paris.

'71 LC San Carlos - The Sandblaster, the walk-on tune:

12 August 2012

Ray Charles And B.B. King Live In San Carlos (1972)

Photo from a 5-day early December 1972 stint at the
Valley Music Theater in Woodland Hills,
also co-billed with B.B. King.
A kind reader of this blog last week surprised me by sending me a cassette with an audience recording of a 1972 concert in San Carlos (CA). It has a decent audio quality, and - more importantly - it has B.B. King co-performing in the finale of the show.

Ray's second USA tour in '72 was booked from early November to mid December. It included B.B. King. They played the Circle Theatre in San Carlos from November 28 to December 2. At least at one documented occasion, Billy Preston (also) joined Ray during that tour.

B.B. King must have performed his solo part of the show before the (first?) intermission, accompanied by the Ray Charles Band.
The place of the first three Raelettes tunes (#2, 3, 4) is a bit unexpected, but from secondary sources we  know of other  Ray Charles concert programs in this period where the girls filled their own pre-intermission part of the show.

The order of the tunes on the cassette tape is:
  1. Our Suite (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Hold On, I'm Coming (The Raelettes)
  3. Love Train (with The Raelettes, ft Dorothy Berry )
  4. Rock Steady (The Raelettes, ft Estella Yarbrough)
  5. Intro Ray Charles
  6. Blues For Big Scotia
  7. Marie
  8. Georgia On My Mind
  9. Feel So Bad
  10. Yours
  11. Intro Raelettes
  12. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  13. Over The Rainbow (ft Susaye Greene)
  14. Don't Change On Me
  15. I Can't Stop Loving You
  16. Shake (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)
  17. Laughin' And Clownin' (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)
  18. What'd I Say (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)
  19. Outro: Unidentified blues (with B.B. King and The Raelettes)
Our Suite (#1) is the first known live recording of the tune, that was first released (in January '73) as part of the album Jazz Number II. The version of Love Train (#3), first released on the Raelettes' 1970 album Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, is also a first known live taping. Blues For Big Scotia (#6) is an earliest known concert rendition. Over The Rainbow (#13) is a (quite over the top) solo interpretation by Susaye Greene, very much in the operatic vein of her solo versions of My Funny Valentine (e.g. at the 1968 Paris concert). Yours (#10) and Don't Change On Me (#14) are earliest known concert versions. Laughin' And Clownin' (#17) is one of my favorite Ray Charles songs, who - unfortunately - only very rarely played it live. This concert at Salinas, however, is the second (documented) time he played it together with B.B. King (the first time was during the Sold On Soul concert in 1970).

Michael Lydon wrote about the San Carlos gig in Boogie Lightning (1974): "The Ray Charles show was at the Circle Star for six days, one show nightly Tuesday through Friday, two on Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee and evening show”. This makes it possible to define 28 November as the datum ante quem and 3 December as the datum post quem. The audio cassettes that have been circulating among collectors always carried "November 1972" as a date, which means that this concert was taped between 28 and 30 November 1972.* 
The line-up of the band included Mike Conlon, Dave Kelly - trumpets; Steve Turre - trombone; Don Garcia, James Clay - alto saxophones, Andy Ennis - tenor saxophone, flute; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone, bandleader; John Perrett - drums; Edgar Willis - bass; John Henderson - organ, piano, vocals. The Raelettes were Dorothy Berry,  Susaye Greene, Mable John, Vernita Moss, and Estella Yarbough.  Regarding the remaining personnel, I guess there were many similarities with the personnel known from concerts in Paris in October 1972, the still largely unknown personnel of the Holy Land tour in late December of 1972, and the musicians contributing to the recording of the Jazz Number II album.
* The infomation on the venue and the named musicians is based on intelligence kindly provided by Joël Dufour.

08 August 2012

Ray Charles On A Pre-Produced Promo Radio Show (1985)

In 1985 Columbia (#39415) released Friendship, a parade of country stars joining Ray in a string of duets.
If my interpretation of the pictures above (I found them on Ebay) is correct, Columbia promoted the album with a pre-produced "radio show", where they let Ray introduce each tune. I guess DJs were invited to use the recording to spice up their own shows. Materials from this promo were probably re-used in this clip from the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
Anyhow, the album went to #1 on the country charts and spun off four Top 20 country singles, including a #1 hit for Ray and Willie Nelson on Seven Spanish Angels.

Ray & Raita, A Cover Story (1961 - 1962)

Ray Charles and the Finnish journalist Raita Johnson (birth name Raita Outinen; a.k.a. Raita Outisen, Greta Johnson) started their affair soon after she interviewed him at the Jazz Festival in Antibes, in July 1961. Photo (c) Rancurel.

Ray and Raita were seen and photographed together at a concert by Count Basie at the same jazz fest. (Photo probably by Jean-Pierre Leloir).
Another photo, taken by Jean-Pierre Leloir at the same Count Basie concert, was used in 1962 by Vega - Atlantic's French distributor - as artwork for the cover of the album Bye Bye Love, the French release of Ray's first Modern Sounds album. When Ray learned about this he went apeshit, and made Vega withdraw the already distributed records.
Vega obeyed.
That same year, however, Raita revealed many details of her affair with The Genius in a feature story that appeared in the June '62 edition of Ciné Télé-Revue. I don't know how Brother Ray responded on this indiscretion, but the Chronology pages for the early 1960s (cf. 1, 2, 3, 4) show that they continued their affair well into 1964 - and that they didn't do too much to keep it a secret. Many non-U.S. media - including even French and Swiss public television stations - frequently reported openly about the couples' whereabouts.
If you're confident in Finnish, you can read Raita's full story about the affair in her book Kasvoton morsian - Elämäni Ray Charlesin kanssa ("Faceless bride - My Life with Ray Charles"), from 2003.
I wonder about her interpretation of that word "faceless".

Many thanks to Joël Dufour, who, once again, was extremely generous with his insights, and with source materials.

06 August 2012

Ray Charles Arriving In Lyon (1961)

At the Gare des Brotteaux in Lyon (video still).
On October 19, 1961 Ray Charles performed twice in Lyon, at the Palais des Congrès. The French TV archive, INA, still has the news clip announcing his arrival by train on that same day, at the Gare des Brotteaux. It can be watched here.

The clip was broadcast on October 21st (when Ray was in the middle of his famous 3-day stint in Paris).

In the clip you can see Ray, smoking heavily, in the company of his girlfriend Raita Johnson, a few staff members and musicians, and what must be local promotors and agents. And there is some footage of fans, waiting at the Lyon concert venue.

05 August 2012

Ray Charles In Nancy (1973)

Still from the interview.
On October 10, 1973 Ray Charles headlined the first jazz festival in Nancy. I've just seen the raw materials and a rough first edited version of an interview related to this gig.

There were two shows, but the first one obviously was marred by sound problems. Ray was still full of that when, sitting in a bus between the concerts, he was interviewed by French TV: "I will play any place, if what I'm selling comes off. I will play in a factory. I will play in a toilet. [...]. If my sound is right [...] I will play anywhere."

The edited version also has a few very rare seconds of color concert footage (the only 'live' coverage from 1973 that I know of), with the Ray Charles introduction, and the first notes of Let The Good Times Roll.

30 July 2012

Glaser & Peterson Chatting About Modern Sounds (2012)

Ray Charles' Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music (1962) was discussed in an entertaining  radio show on BIRN1, the Matt Glaser Record Party - Episode #1 on July 29, 2012. Jay Peterson guested. Listen to the complete program here.

Promo clip:

(In this post I mentioned a few sources for further research on Ray's adventures with The Florida Playboys).

Ray Charles Live In Stockholm (1968)

On September 23, 1968 Ray Charles performed at the Konserthuset in Stockholm. A good version of I Don't Need No Doctor, probably from a radio broadcast, has survived.

I Don't Need No Doctor (soundclip):

14 July 2012

Ray Charles Live At The Latin Casino (1975)

During many years, the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill (NJ) was a regular stop for Ray Charles. In 1975 his group was engaged during the week of Memorial Day.* On May 24 band members taped the concert, right at the board. The sound quality of the cassette tape that I heard may be low, the documentary value of this recording is high. Ray, the band, and The Raelettes were in great shape that year.
  1. Our Suite (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Intro
  3. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  6. Come Live With Me
  7. Feel So Bad
  8. Rock Steady (The Raelettes)
  9. I Can't Stop Loving You
  10. Everything's All Right
  11. Hold On, I'm Coming (The Raelettes)
  12. What'd I Say
  13. Outro
The 13-minute instrumental Our Suite (#1) gave plenty of room for solos by Leroy Cooper on baritone, Andy Ennis on tenor, Phil Guilbeau on trumpet, Johnny Coles** on flugel, John Bryant on drums, and Bob Coassin on trumpet, showing again how free - and good! - the Orchestra played in '75. 
In #3 Ray took unusual liberties in his vocals. #8 got a Why didn't you tell me/It's All Right-intro. #10 is the ditty only known from the 1975 Madrid concert. #12 was a very loose mixture of known finale elements, with an I Love The Way You Love Me-intro, the ominous pandemonium on el. piano known from other '75 concerts, a yodel and a few lines of I'm Gonna Keep On Singin', and Shake That Thing. During the outro Ray gave special credits to Ernest Vantrease: "the Deacon of our congregation", "playing the hell out of it".

* Bobby Blue Bland opened the show. ** This was the the engagement where Johnny Coles rejoined the band after losing his eye earlier in the year.

08 July 2012

Ray Charles Honors Sammy Davis (1987)

Still from the Kennedy Honors show.
On December 30, 1987 Sammy Davis Jr. received the Kennedy Center Honors for his lifetime achievement in the performing arts.

Ray Charles, who had received the same award the year before, showed his respect with a few kind words and a rendition, accompanied by a big band, of Birth Of The Blues.

Also see this record in the IMdB.

Birth Of The Blues:

05 July 2012

Steve Sigmund's Brother Ray, A Letter (2004)

On June 11, 2004, the day after Ray Charles died, Steve Sigmund wrote a letter to David Ritz, co-author of Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. In fact, the moving content of Steve's story is complementary to Ritz' eulogy The Last Days Of Brother Ray, the final chapter in the extended version of Charles' autobiography (partially accessible here).
The letter was published in 2004 by Jazziz magazine, but it got (too) little attention. Sigmund granted me permission* to republish the letter here.

I don't quite know what to say. We've never met before but we shared something wonderful in common. If you don't mind, I'd like to tell you just a little bit about my “Brother Ray”.
My phone rang on December 3, 1986 and the voice on the other end identified himself as Brother Ray. He proceeded to tell me that Clifford Solomon had given him a tape that he had listened to of me and that he needed a trombone player for some shows down in Florida over Christmas and wondered whether I could make it, I was 22 years old. In August I'll be 40. He was a lot more hands on with the cats in those days. He still called new musicians himself.
I played the Ray Charles Show for the first time on December 23, 1986. I played the last Ray Charles Show on July 20, 2003 in Alexandria, VA. I played approximately 2000 shows with him over 17 years.
When we left to go out on the road in May of 2003, his hip was already bothering him badly. Having the Lear Jet he had recently purchased helped a little bit because like in the old days, he could once again travel where and when he wanted and when he felt like it. The doctors didn't even want him to start that tour because they knew his hip would not hold out much longer, but you know how much he liked being told what to do - especially by doctors. We had fourteen weeks of summer tour ahead of us at that point. As June wore into July we could see him deteriorating quickly. As you know, he used to like to get out of the venue as soon as he could change his clothes at the end of the show. By the end of June, it would sometimes take him an hour to change clothes and gather enough strength to get out to the car. He needed help getting his pants on.
It never showed on stage though. From the time he stepped out from the side of the stage to the time he got safely into the dressing room he never stopped being The Genius of Soul. At the time we didn't understand what was really special about July 20. It was different for us though because we hadn't worked in a night club in several years. An intimate setting like that was really Ray. We all left the stage that night thinking that we had had not heard him sound so good in quite a while. I went by his dressing room after the show like I had done hundreds of times before. The past eight years or so, we had developed a little more personal relationship. I had copied music for him, helped restore some of his older arrangements. He loved to talk baseball with me. I grew up in the Bay Area and was a Giants fan so I matched up perfectly against his Dodgers. For the past several years, we had a standing bet on the baseball season. $50 for whoever went further, the Giants or Dodgers. I would also bring him new jazz recordings anytime I heard something I thought he'd like. I knew what he liked. He loved big band music with good ensemble writing. He would always tell me that when you had thirteen horns, you had to use them.
On July 21, he went home. He never came back. We went home nine days later on July 30. He sent word that he just needed to rest for two weeks and then we'd pick up with the California dates. I didn't hear from him again until just before Christmas. The phone rang one day and a familiar voice on the other end said “Hey Zig”. He had been listening to a recording that I gave him several months before and wanted to know who the writer was. He said he wanted to buy the arrangement and use it on the show we'd play in New York in March. He sounded excited. He had the hip replacement and said he was feeling better. I silently wondered what was happening with the cancer. Most of us in the band had known about that since May.
January came and we got the official call from the office. On March 2nd at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, the big comeback show. We'd been off for eight months. I was hearing from people on the inside, that things were not going as well as everyone thought. Two weeks later came another phone call from the office, it was off. The official statement said that his recovery from hip replacement surgery was taking longer than expected. We knew. I was getting updates weekly from my friends that were on the inside. His bad days were outnumbering his good days.
I wanted to visit him very badly. Everyone told me that I would never get in. My only shot was if I could talk to him. I didn't want to lose him without seeing him one more time. I had been talking to Vernon periodically and had recently told him my desire to visit. He thought it would be a great idea but that I'd have to talk to Ray first. After a week or so, a call came from Vernon, wait 5 minutes and call the office and tell the receptionist that Ray is expecting your call. I was so happy to talk to him, it was April and we hadn't spoken since December. I told him that I wanted to come out to see him. Typical Ray, he said “you're at home in Florida aren't you?” I said yes. He said “You want to come all the way out here to see me?” That was on a Thursday. Ray told me to meet him at the office on Monday at noon.
The first person I saw at the office was Joe. I could see the look on Joe's face. It seemed like all the years of animosity between Joe and the guys in the band didn't matter anymore. It was the end and it was about Ray. He put his hand out and thanked me for coming. He said “I thank you and Ray thanks you”. We talked for several minutes. I thanked Joe also. It was the first time I had ever had a conversation like that with Joe. I was very happy about that. I then went upstairs. Vernon took me to his office. He was sitting on the side of the bed, dressed. I sat down on the side of the bed next to him. He quickly grabbed my hand and held on to it the whole time that we talked. He asked about my mom and my wife. He knew them both. He knew my wife since before we were married. He and Joe sent us a wedding gift when we got married. He asked me how I was doing and what I was doing. What I was doing was trying to hold back the tears. He told me he was very tired now all the time. After about 20 minutes, he apologized and said he would have to rest now. I didn't know how to say goodbye. The last thing I said to him was “thanks for everything”, he said “I know”.
I walked out of that room and into the main part of his office. I was already crying at that point. I stood in front of his desk and looked at the walls covered with awards. I walked down the hall and went in the studio. I knew that I'd probably never be inside this building ever again.
On July 30, the day that we were sent home from New York, we went onto Ray's bus to get our personal belongings. I snuck into his stateroom in the back and grabbed a bottle of his Dom Perignon from the cabinet that they hid it in. I took it home with me. At 12:15pm last Thursday, I put it into the freezer to chill it. After a quiet dinner with my wife, I told her that I needed some time to myself. I took the bottle and a glass and went to my music room and closed the door. I put on some CD's, opened the bottle and toasted Ray. I loved him very much. I have a musical career because of him. I also am the man and the musician that I am right now because of him.

I was inspired to write to you after having read your beautiful “Last Days of Brother Ray” yesterday. Thank you for your beautiful words. I am sorry that I won't have the opportunity to meet you at the memorial tomorrow but I live in Miami and am not able to get free to get out there. It's ok though because I know that he and I are already good.

Steve Sigmund
* Steve wrote: "This was originally nothing more than a personal correspondence between myself and David Ritz. [...] As you read this, also please picture that Peter Turre accompanied me on the trip to Los Angeles to see Ray. [...]".

04 July 2012

Ray Charles Live In Cagliari (1983)

Video still: Ray Charles with Georges Moustaki.
A friend send me a DVD with a charming compilation of better, lesser and un-known TV performances by the Genius. Entirely new to me was a RAI program from 1983. According to the guy who compiled the DVD it contains footage of a show in 'Taoramina', but I found 4 or 5 frames with a superimposed text that identifies the video as coming from a concert that was broadcast live from the Teatro Romano in Cagliari, on Sardinia*. Cross checking this with the 1983 Chronology page, makes it possible to add a precise date to this show: June 12.
The setting is rather difficult to describe. On the stage everything seems ready for a fully fledged concert by Charles and his big band, but Ray is sitting there alone at his piano, performing 3/4 Time. While in the background stagehands are still busy with cables and stuff, and the audience in the open air theater already is paying full attention to Ray, now singing Hallelujah I Love Her So, he is joined by Georges Moustaki and a bunch of other artists (Moustaki's band?). Chaos ensues, but everybody seems to have a good time.

See the comment to this article to understand (better) what really happened that day: before the band's regular concert during the evening, Ray guested on a TV show titled Blitz, centered around Moustaki. This show was recorded in day time.

*Taormina, on Sicily, has a fabulous Greek amfitheater. 

29 June 2012

Ray Charles In Salute To Georgia Music, And In A Georgia Commercial (1980s)

This article in The Augusta Chronicle described how producer Tim McCabe was involved in a local TV-program with Ray Charles, and - later - also in a TV commercial titled Georgia On My Mind. In the interview part of the story McCabe recalled:
Tim McCabe and Ray Charles, probably at RPM in LA.
"The first time that I met him, was producing a Salute To Georgia Music program for WAGA-TV in Atlanta. We went to Bossier City, LA, to film him being given his Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction award, which he never had received. He wasn't present in 1979 at the Georgia Terrace Hotel when he and Bill Lowery became the first two people inducted in the state Hall of Fame.
Later, when I was working with him on the Georgia On My Mind commercials, I arranged some short versions of the song and recorded it with just a piano in Atlanta. Then I flew to Los Angeles for him to sing on the master tape.
We were in his own studio, just Ray and myself, and, even though he's blind, he ran the recording console and told me what buttons to push. It was one of those moments I had to say to myself, `Lord, look at me. Here I am with my idol.' It was really special."
I guess the photo reproduced here was taken during the first half of the 1980s, possibly at Ray's RPM studios in Los Angeles, during the production of the soundtrack for the commercial.
So far, I haven't found any other trace of either the WAGA tv-program or the Georgia commercial.

Who knows more?

25 June 2012

Ray Charles Ft. In The Super Dave Osborne Show (1987, 1990, 1995)

Still from the TV show.
Vegas Spectacular, aired Jan. 7, 1995.
I knew that Ray Charles had a (not overly funny) cameo as a bus driver in the 2000 comedy The Extreme Adventures Of Super Dave, but I wasn't aware that this was preceded by at least three guest appearances on Bob Einstein's Super Dave TV-shows. The 2 first ones were in the Canadian/American production The Super Dave Osborne Show, a comedy series that ran from 1987 to 1991 on Showtime in the U.S. and on Global Television Network in Canada. During its first year the program was taped at the fictional "Super Dave Compound" or  "Super Dave Complex", actually the Glen Warren Studios at CFTO-TV in Toronto. Ray first appeared in the 3d episode of the (first) 1987 season, on November 29.
He participated in the car stunt that opened the program, and came back on the studio stage (backed by his Orchestra's rhythm section) to play They Can't Take That Away From Me, and a little Super Dave Blues ditty. You can watch it all here [sorry, video has been removed by user; here's a clip with just the stunt, and here's a stunt compilation with a sliver of one of Ray's blues ditties]. also lists an appearance in episode 51 of the 4th (1990) season. Einstein's own website has the photo at the right, with the following caption: "Ray Charles (whom Bob called his 'good luck charm') guest stars on the premiere episode of  Super Dave's Vegas Spectacular, which originally aired January 7, 1995 (USA  Network)."

A considerate reader sent me a copy of another Super Dave show, probably from the 1990 show described above. This time Ray first performs a good and long version of What'd I Say. The rhythm section described above appears to be part of a bigger Super Dave house band (here extended with 5 horn players). Four girls take care of the call & response parts, but I can't swear they are The Raelettes.
Ray again plays a (very) little blues ditty - solo on electric piano this time. In the closing sequence Ray acts out another driving stunt, this time convincingly destructing a bed (!) with Einstein in it.
Here Einstein reflects on this show:

13 June 2012

Ray Charles Playing Some Blues At The Sunset Terrace (1951)

This newspaper article, from the Indianapolis Recorder of March 3, 1951, is one of the oldest print publications about Ray Charles that I've found so far.
The story announces a dance gig with Lowell Fulson at the Sunset Terrace in Indianapolis, describing Ray as an "added attraction", a "song stylist", and a "sensational songbird", "who'll give with" (i.e. 'will be performing' or 'will be backing Fulson on'?) "such numbers as Everyday I Have The Blues, Blue Shadow, Sinner's Progress and Old Time Shuffle".
Looking closer at this little 'setlist' it becomes clear that Ray was only playing the piano:

Every Day I Have the Blues
Ray never put the song out on a regular record, but we have a special version from More Music From Ray, the follow-up to the soundtrack of the biopic Ray, where Charles dubbed in his piano playing (watch here how it landed in the film). For Fulson's 1949 version, listen to this.

Blue Shadow
I don't know of any song with that title, but it can almost certainly be identified with Fulson's Blue Shadows, from 1950.

Sinner's Progress
Any tune with this title is unknown to me, but it's highly probable that this is a corruption for Sinner's Prayer, a song penned by Lowell Fulson and Lloyd Glenn, and recorded by Fulson in early 1950. Ray recorded his famous version in 1954.

Old Time Shuffle
Old Time Shuffle Blues is another (instrumental) song composed by Lloyd Glenn; he recorded it in November 1950. Fulson released it as the flip side of his Sinner's Prayer in early 1950.

In the 1950s Ray developed a strong fan base in Indianapolis, performing there several times a year, at several venues. Some girls even started a local, socially very active, Ray Charles fanclub. After his drugs arrest in '61 he stayed away from the city for 5 or 6 years.

After reading the article above, Ray Charles expert Joel Dufour shared some valuable bits of information with me:
  • Renald Richard told Joel (about Ray Charles) that the common practice for a singer in the 1950s was to begin his show by singing covers of current hits and to finish the set with his own most successful songs.  
  • It is just impossible that Fulson would have let Ray perform his own songs in his place on his show – especially as Blue Shadows and Everyday I Have The Blues were his biggest hits (#1 and #3 in the Billboard charts). Those probably constituted Lowell's climax songs by which he closed his performances. While Sinner's Prayer wasn't a smash for Lowell, and Ray would record it later on, it is also extremely unlikely that Lowell would have allowed Ray to sing it on his show.
  • It could be that Lowell let Ray play Old Time Shuffle Blues during his solo spot in the show, since it wasn't a Fulson record, but a Lloyd Glenn hit release. (Although the label indicated “Lloyd Glenn with Th' Fulson Unit”, Lowell himself did not play on Glenn's record).
Many years ago Dick Shurman shared a few interesting anecdotes about the early days of the Lowell/Ray relationship with Dufour:
  • Joel recalls the first of Shurman's stories as follows. "[...] One day while Lowell Fulson was singing and playing, backed by his band including Ray (who had played his own set earlier), he spotted a young attractive woman in the audience whose attitude was making it very clear that she had a crush on him. So much so, that Lowell suddenly put down his guitar and left the stage to get better acquainted with her, leaving his band to go on with the show… Thus Ray took over while Lowell was busy buzzing around his new conquest… Only to have to (angrily) run back to the bandstand, as Ray was breaking the house down, stealing the show."
  • Lloyd Glenn himself was Shurman's direct source for the following story, as retold to me by Dufour. "Lloyd played with Lowell Fulson in the studio, but he didn't like to travel, and thus scarcely played with him on stage. This is why Jack Lauderdale [the boss of Down Beat/Swing Time Records] eventually suggested that Ray Charles should fill Lloyd's chair when Lowell was touring. On one of those rare occasions when Lloyd did perform live with Lowell Fulson (the posters outside were announcing “Lowell Fulson & his orchestra featuring Lloyd Glenn”), a woman in the audience started yelling at Lloyd, “You are NOT Lloyd Glenn! Lloyd Glenn is a blind man!” This is how Lloyd discovered that Lowell had Ray pass for him…"
  • Lloyd Glenn told Shurman that Ray Charles had 'stolen' two tunes from him: Blues Hangover and Rockhouse. "While it is evident that [Ray's Atlantic recording] A Bit Of Soul is Blues Hangover, I never actually heard any Lloyd Glenn tune which sounded exactly like Rockhouse – even if that tune is obviously in the Lloyd Glenn style. As for the wrong title and writer credits for Blues Hangover, the Atlantic people, rather than Ray, are probably responsible for them [...]."