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08 August 2012

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.

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