b. Ray Charles Robinson, 23rd September 1930, Albany, Georgia, U.S.A.
d. 10th June 2004, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.
Ray Charles has been described by many writers as 'A Genius' and the 'Father of Soul Music'.
Ray was born into extreme poverty.
He was slowly blinded by glaucoma until, at the age of six, he had lost his sight completely.
Whilst he could still use his eyesight, he had to cope with the tragic death of his brother, whom he had seen drown in a water tub.
Ray studied composition and learned several instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind.
His mother Aretha died when Ray was 15, and he was brought up by Mary Jane (the first wife of Ray's absent father).
Ray worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947.
Here he continued his career, playing piano at several nightclubs.
Ray began recording in 1949, with several of these sessions being released several years later.
He achieved his first Top Ten R & B hit with 'Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand' in 1951.
In 1952, Atlantic Records recruited Ray.
'It Should've Been Me', 'Mess Around' and 'Losing Hand' were released at this time and Ray began working with Guitar Slim in New Orleans.
Ray arranged Guitar Slim's million-selling single, 'Things That I Used To Do', a song that was later to influence Ray's own personal stylings.
He, also, put together a group for the R & B singer Ruth Brown.
It was at Atlantic Records that Ray released 'I Got a Woman', a number two R & B hit in 1955.
Ray released further recordings, including 'This Little Girl Of Mine' in 1955, 'Talkin' 'Bout You' in 1957 and 'Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying' in 1959.
Later that year, Ray released the energetic, 'What'd I Say', a song that became his first Top Ten pop hit, and one of his final Atlantic singles, as he left the label in November 1959 for the ABC imprint.
The ABC deal for Ray gave him a greater degree of artistic control over his recordings.
Here he released 'Georgia On My Mind', in 1960, and 'Hit The Road Jack' the following year.
In 1962, Ray released a Country and Western album entitled 'Modern Sounds In Country And Western', topping the charts with the single 'I Can't Stop Loving You'.
Further successful Sixties releases included the songs 'Busted', 'I Don't Need No Doctor', 'You Are My Sunshine', 'Take These Chains From My Heart', and 'Crying Time', however, Ray was arrested in 1965 for heroin possession.
He recorded the song 'Let's Go Get Stoned' in 1966.
Ray's career faded at this time as much of his output became seen as MOR.
In 1967, Ray sang the title song for the Norman Jewison / Rod Steiger / Sidney Poitier move 'In The Heat Of The Night', with Ray working alongside the artist Quincy Jones.
He also covered Beatles songs at this time, having substantial hits with his own versions of 'Yesterday' and 'Eleanor Rigby'.
Ray influenced many Rock artists including Joe Cocker, Van Morrison and Steve Winwood in particular.
During the 1970's, 'A Message From The People' and 'Renaissance' were released and included versions of Stevie Wonder's 'Living In The City' and Randy Newman's 'Sail Away'.
In the 1980's, Ray released more and more Country and Western influenced outings.
He also made a cameo appearance in the film 'The Blues Brothers', and contributed to the U.S.A. For Africa release, 'We Are The World' in 1985.
Ray has been honoured with several awards during his career including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1992, 'Ray Charles, The Genius Of Soul', was broadcast by CBS television.
'My World' was released on Warner Brothers in 1993 and included his version of Leon Russell's 'A Song For You'.
The album was seen to be a real return to form by the music pundits.
Ray returned to the recording studio in 2002 with the release of 'Thanks For Bringing Love Around Again', which included a re-working of his classic tune 'What'd I Say'.
In June 2004, Ray died at the age of 73 from acute liver disease. A major loss to Soul Music.
Hallelujah, I Love Her So aka Ray Charles (Atlantic Records 1957)
The Great Ray Charles (Atlantic Records 1957)
with Milt Jackson: Soul Brothers (Atlantic Records 1958)
Ray Charles At Newport (Atlantic Records 1958)
Yes, Indeed (Atlantic Records 1959)
Ray Charles (Hollywood Records 1959)
The Fabulous Ray Charles (Hollywood Records 1959)
What'd I Say (Atlantic Records 1959)
The Genius Of Ray Charles (Atlantic Records 1959)
Ray Charles In Person (Atlantic Records 1960)
The Genius Hits The Road (ABC Records 1960)
Dedicated To You (ABC Records 1961)
Genius + Soul = Jazz (Impulse! Records 1961)
The Genius After Hours (Atlantic Records 1961)
with Betty Carter: Ray Charles And Betty Carter (ABC Records 1961)
The Genius Sings The Blues (Atlantic Records 1961)
with Jackson: Soul Meeting (Atlantic Records 1961)
Do The Twist With Ray Charles (Atlantic Records 1961)
Modern Sounds In Country And Western (ABC Records 1962)
Modern Sounds In Country And Western Volume 2 (ABC Records 1962)
Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul (ABC Records 1963)
Sweet And Sour Stars (ABC Records 1964)
Have A Smile With Me (ABC Records 1964)
Ray Charles Live In Concert (ABC Records 1965)
Country And Western Meets Rhythm And Blues aka Together Again (ABC Records 1965)
Crying Time (ABC Records 1966)
Ray's Moods (ABC Records 1966)
Ray Charles Invites You To Listen (ABC Records 1967)
A Portrait Of Ray (ABC Records 1968)
I'm All Yours, Baby! (ABC Records 1969)
Doing His Thing (ABC Records 1969)
My Kind Of Jazz (Tangerine Records 1970)
Love Country Style (ABC Records 1970)
Volcanic Action Of My Soul (ABC Records 1971)
A Message From The People (ABC Records 1972)
Through The Eyes Of Love (ABC Records 1972)
Ray Charles Live (Atlantic Records 1973)
Come Live With Me (Crossover Records 1974)
Renaissance (Crossover Records 1975)
My Kind Of Jazz III (Crossover Records 1975)
Live In Japan (Crossover Records 1975)
with Cleo Laine: Porgy And Bess (RCA Records 1976)
True To Life (Atlantic Records 1977)
Love And Peace (Atlantic Records 1978)
Ain't It So (Atlantic Records 1979)
Brother Ray Is At It Again (Atlantic Records 1980)
Wish You Were Here Tonight (Columbia Records 1983)
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? (Columbia Records 1984)
Friendship (Columbia Records 1985)
The Spirit Of Christmas (Columbia Records 1985)
From The Pages Of My Mind (Columbia Records 1986)
Just Between Us (Columbia Records 1988)
Seven Spanish Angels And Other Hits (Columbia Records 1989)
Would You Believe (Warners Records 1990)
My World (Warners Records 1993)
Strong Love Affair (Qwest Records 1996)
Berlin, 1962 (Pablo Records 1996)
Thanks For Bringing Love Around Again (Pablo Records 2002)