62 Facts About Ray Charles

1.

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".

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2.

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.

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3.

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.

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4.

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

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5.

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

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6.

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

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7.

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

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8.

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.

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9.

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

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10.

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.

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11.

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.

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12.

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

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13.

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

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14.

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.

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15.

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.

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16.

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.

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17.

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

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18.

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

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19.

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.

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20.

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.

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21.

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

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22.

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

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23.

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

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24.

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.

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25.

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

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26.

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.

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27.

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

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28.

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

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29.

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

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30.

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

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31.

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

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32.

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

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33.

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.

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34.

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" .

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35.

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

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36.

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.

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37.

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

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38.

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.

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39.

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

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40.

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.

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41.

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

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42.

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 .

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43.

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

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44.

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

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45.

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

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46.

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

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47.

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.

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48.

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

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49.

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

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50.

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

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51.

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

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52.

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

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53.

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.

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54.

Ray Charles later became addicted to heroin for seventeen years.

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55.

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.

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56.

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

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57.

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

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58.

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

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59.

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

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60.

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.

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61.

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

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62.

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

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