62 Facts About Ray Charles


Ray Charles Robinson was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist and is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential singers in history, and was often referred to by contemporaries as "The Genius".

FactSnippet No. 656,068

Ray Charles pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic Records.

FactSnippet No. 656,069

Ray Charles contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums.

FactSnippet No. 656,070

Ray Charles's 1960 hit "Georgia On My Mind" was the first of his three career No 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

FactSnippet No. 656,071

Ray Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was influenced by Louis Jordan and Ray Charles Brown.

FactSnippet No. 656,072

Ray Charles had a lifelong friendship and occasional partnership with Quincy Jones.

FactSnippet No. 656,073

Ray Charles was one of the inaugural inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

FactSnippet No. 656,074

Ray Charles has won 18 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, and 10 of his recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

FactSnippet No. 656,075

Ray Charles was the son of Bailey Robinson, a laborer, and Aretha Robinson, a laundress, of Greenville, Florida.

FactSnippet No. 656,076

Ray Charles was deeply devoted to his mother and later recalled, despite her poor health and adversity, her perseverance, self-sufficiency, and pride as guiding lights in his life.

FactSnippet No. 656,077

Ray Charles started to lose his sight at the age of four or five, and was blind by the age of seven, likely as a result of glaucoma.

FactSnippet No. 656,078

Ray Charles further developed his musical talent at school and was taught to play the classical piano music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

FactSnippet No. 656,079

Ray Charles played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla for over a year, earning $4 a night .

FactSnippet No. 656,080

Ray Charles joined Local 632 of the American Federation of Musicians, in the hope that it would help him get work, and was able to use the union hall's piano to practice, since he did not have one at home; he learned piano licks from copying the other players there.

FactSnippet No. 656,081

Ray Charles started to build a reputation as a talented musician in Jacksonville, but the jobs did not come fast enough for him to construct a strong identity, so, at age 16, he moved to Orlando, where he lived in borderline poverty and went without food for days.

FactSnippet No. 656,082

Ray Charles eventually started to write arrangements for a pop music band, and in the summer of 1947, he unsuccessfully auditioned to play piano for Lucky Millinder and his sixteen-piece band.

FactSnippet No. 656,083

In 1947, Ray Charles moved to Tampa, where he held two jobs, including one as a pianist for Ray Charles Brantley's Honey Dippers.

FactSnippet No. 656,084

Ray Charles had always played piano for other people, but he was keen to have his own band.

FactSnippet No. 656,085

Ray Charles decided to leave Florida for a large city, and, considering Chicago and New York City too big, followed his friend Gossie McKee to Seattle, Washington, in March 1948, knowing that the biggest radio hits came from northern cities.

FactSnippet No. 656,086

Ray Charles's first recording session for Atlantic took place in September 1952, although his last Swing Time release would not appear until February 1953.

FactSnippet No. 656,087

Ray Charles recorded the songs "Midnight Hour" and "Sinner's Prayer" around this time.

FactSnippet No. 656,088

Ray Charles worked with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, releasing Soul Brothers in 1958 and Soul Meeting in 1961.

FactSnippet No. 656,089

Ray Charles hired a female singing group, the Cookies, and renamed them the Raelettes.

FactSnippet No. 656,090

Ray Charles reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of "What'd I Say", which combined gospel, jazz, blues and Latin music.

FactSnippet No. 656,091

Ray Charles said he wrote it spontaneously while he was performing in clubs with his band.

FactSnippet No. 656,092

Ray Charles placed a spiritual interpretation on the experience, claiming that "something or someone which instruments cannot detect" was responsible for creating the small opening in the ice on the windshield which enabled the pilot to eventually land the plane safely.

FactSnippet No. 656,093

In 1964, Ray Charles's career was halted once more after he was arrested for a third time for possession of heroin.

FactSnippet No. 656,094

Ray Charles agreed to go to a rehabilitative facility to avoid jail time and eventually kicked his habit at a clinic in Los Angeles.

FactSnippet No. 656,095

Ray Charles's renewed chart success proved to be short lived, and by the 1970s his music was rarely played on radio stations.

FactSnippet No. 656,096

Ray Charles was often criticized for his version of "America the Beautiful" because it was very drastically changed from the song's original version.

FactSnippet No. 656,097

In 1974, Ray Charles left ABC Records and recorded several albums on his own label, Crossover Records.

FactSnippet No. 656,098

Ray Charles later defended his choice of performing there, insisting that the audience of black and white fans would integrate while he was there.

FactSnippet No. 656,099

In 1985, Ray Charles participated in the musical recording and video "We Are the World", a charity single recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists for Africa.

FactSnippet No. 656,100

Also in 2003, Ray Charles presented Van Morrison with Morrison's award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the two sang Morrison's song "Crazy Love" .

FactSnippet No. 656,101

Ray Charles possessed one of the most recognizable voices in American music.

FactSnippet No. 656,102

Ray Charles's records disclose an extraordinary assortment of slurs, glides, turns, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, screams and hollers, all wonderfully controlled, disciplined by inspired musicianship, and harnessed to ingenious subtleties of harmony, dynamics and rhythm.

FactSnippet No. 656,103

Ray Charles has to cry out to you, or shout to you, in tones eloquent of despair—or exaltation.

FactSnippet No. 656,104

In 1975, Ray Charles was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement and presented with the Golden Plate Award and the Academy of Achievement gold medal.

FactSnippet No. 656,105

In 1979, Ray Charles was one of the first musicians born in the state to be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

FactSnippet No. 656,106

In 2003, Ray Charles was awarded an honorary degree by Dillard University, and upon his death he endowed a professorship of African-American culinary history at the school, the first such chair in the nation.

FactSnippet No. 656,107

In 2015, Ray Charles was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

FactSnippet No. 656,108

In 2022, Ray Charles was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the third African-American to be inducted after Charley Pride and Deford Bailey .

FactSnippet No. 656,109

Ray Charles was the 13th person to be inducted into both the Country and Rock Halls of Fame.

FactSnippet No. 656,110

Ray Charles met his second wife Della Beatrice Howard Robinson in Texas in 1954.

FactSnippet No. 656,111

Ray Charles was not in town for the birth because he was playing a show in Texas.

FactSnippet No. 656,112

Ray Charles felt that his heroin addiction took a toll on Della during their marriage.

FactSnippet No. 656,113

Ray Charles had a six-year-long affair with Margie Hendrix, one of the original Raelettes, and in 1959 they had a son, Ray Charles Wayne.

FactSnippet No. 656,114

Ray Charles's affair with Mae Mosley Lyles resulted in a daughter, Renee, born in 1961.

FactSnippet No. 656,115

In 1963, Charles had another daughter, this one by Sandra Jean Betts, named Sheila Raye Charles.

FactSnippet No. 656,116

In 1977, Ray Charles had a child with his Parisian lover Arlette Kotchounian whom he met in 1967.

FactSnippet No. 656,117

Ray Charles fathered a total of 12 children with ten different women:.

FactSnippet No. 656,118

Ray Charles held a family luncheon for his twelve children in 2002, ten of whom attended.

FactSnippet No. 656,119

At 18, Ray Charles first tried marijuana when he played in McSon Trio and was eager to try it as he thought it helped musicians create music and tap into their creativity.

FactSnippet No. 656,120

Ray Charles later became addicted to heroin for seventeen years.

FactSnippet No. 656,121

Ray Charles was first arrested in 1955, when he and his bandmates were caught backstage with loose marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a burnt spoon, syringe, and needle.

FactSnippet No. 656,122

In 1958, Ray Charles was arrested on a Harlem street corner for possession of narcotics and equipment for administering heroin.

FactSnippet No. 656,123

On Halloween 1964, Ray Charles was arrested for possession of heroin at Boston's Logan Airport.

FactSnippet No. 656,124

Ray Charles decided to quit heroin and entered St Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, where he endured four days of cold turkey withdrawal.

FactSnippet No. 656,125

The judge offered to postpone the verdict for a year if Ray Charles agreed to undergo regular examinations by government-appointed physicians.

FactSnippet No. 656,126

Ray Charles responded to the saga of his drug use and reform with the songs "I Don't Need No Doctor" and "Let's Go Get Stoned" and the release of Crying Time, his first album since kicking his heroin addiction in 1966.

FactSnippet No. 656,127

Ray Charles used a special board with raised squares and holes for the pieces.

FactSnippet No. 656,128

In 2003, Ray Charles had successful hip replacement surgery and was planning to go back on tour, until he began having other ailments.

FactSnippet No. 656,129