Ray Charles (born Ray Charles Robinson, 23.9.1930 - 10.6.2004)
Ray Charles was an American singer, composer and pianist.
Ray Charles: Net worth
Ray Charles had an estimated $100 million net worth before his death. (Celebrity Net Worth)
Ray Charles: Childhood
Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia on 23rd September 1930. Ray's father, Bailey Robinson, was a railroad repair man, and his mother, Aretha Williams, was a sawmill worker. It was the Great Depression and times were hard for a black family living in the South. The family moved to Greenville in Florida, but Bailey was rarely present, leaving Aretha to bring up the family alone.
A series of tragedies followed. At the age of five, Ray witnessed his younger brother, George, drown in a laundry tub. Ray also began to lose his sight, possibly due to glaucoma, and was completely blind by the age of seven. Supported by his mother, Ray learned to cope with his sight loss and to be independent. Ray left home and became a student at the school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, Florida. When Ray was fifteen his mother died, followed two years later by his father.
At school Ray received a formal musical education and learned to read, write and arrange music in Braille; score for big bands; and play piano, organ, sax, clarinet, and trumpet. His influences ranged from the jazz and big band sounds of Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan, to blues, classical, hillbilly, and gospel music. While playing in one of his first bands, The Florida Playboys, Ray began wearing his trademark sunglasses.
Ray Charles: Musical Career
On leaving school Ray toured the South, playing black dance halls with bands, before moving to Seattle, Washington in 1947. Ray's early musical career was fashioned after Nat King Cole, evident in some of his first recordings such as Walkin' and Talkin' and All to Myself Alone. In 1949 Ray had his first hit with Confession Blues, released on Swingtime Records.
After signing to Atlantic in 1952, Charles celebrated his first number one in the R&B singles chart, I Got a Woman, which catapulted him to fame in America. The single featured on Ray Charles' self-titled debut album, released in 1957. By this time Charles' singing style was unique, containing elements of gospel, a style which would later feed into soul. More R&B hits followed and Ray recruited a girl group from Philadelphia to be his backing band. They changed their name to the Raelettes and began recording with Charles in New York. During this time, Charles also became popular with jazz fans, playing at the Newport Jazz festival and recording two highly acclaimed records.
Ray Charles released his breakthrough single, What'd I Say, in July 1959. The song crossed over to Top 40 radio and reached number six in the US pop chart. By the late 1950s Ray Charles was referred to as The Genius, with his final album for Atlantic aptly titled Genius Sings the Blues.
Ray signed to ABC Paramount in 1959 and released a string of hit singles including Hit the Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, and Georgia On My Mind which earned Charles two Grammy Awards in 1960, and was declared official song of the state of Georgia in 1979. In 1962 Charles formed Ray Charles Enterprises and opened studios and offices in Los Angeles.
Always broadening his musical oeuvre, and now using orchestras and choruses for his recordings, Ray Charles' landmark 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music stayed at number one on the Billboard Pop Album chart for over three months, ushering country music into the mainstream. Volume Two was swiftly released, spawning the hits You Are My Sunshine and Your Cheating Heart.
Charles also enjoyed major pop hits on ABC with Crying Time and Together Again. Charles began appearing in films and recorded soundtracks for The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and In the Heat of the Night (1967).
During his time on parole after kicking his drug habit, Charles kept a reduced profile and his musical output was patchy but by 1969 he was back touring the nightclub circuit.
Charles left ABC Records and released My Kind Of Jazz (1970) on his Tangerine label, with long-time friend Quincy Jones. It contained Charles' last pop chart hit, Booty Butt. The 1970s saw Charles collaborate with Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder, as well as English vocalist Cleo Laine with whom he recorded Porgy & Bess in 1976. Charles returned to Atlantic Records and released four albums between 1977 and 1980.
In the 1980s Charles shifted to Columbia Records and back to country music, working with George Jones and Willie Nelson. Charles made a cameo appearance in The Blues Brothers and also appeared at two Presidential inaugurations. Ray's renewed fame led to guest vocals on tracks such as I'll Be Good to You (1990), with Chaka Khan, and he released eleven albums between 1983 and 1996. Up until his death, Ray continued to make concert and television appearances, like the peace concert in Rome's Colosseum in 2002.
Prior to his death, Charles had recorded an album of duets, entitled Genius Loves Company, featuring Norah Jones, Van Morrison, and Gladys Knight, amongst others. It was released in August 2004, reaching number one in the Billboard 200 and claiming eight Grammy Awards. Three more posthumous albums were released: Genius & Friends (2005), Ray Sings, Basie Swings (2006) and Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (2010).
Ray Charles: Personal life
Ray Charles married his first wife Eileen Williams in 1951, but they soon divorced the following year.
His second wife was Della Beatrice Howard Robinson, to whom he was married between 1955 and 1977 and had three children: Ray Charles, Jr., David and Robert.
At the time of his death, he was in a relationship with Norma Pinella.
Ray had a further nine children to several different women: his first child was Evelyn, born to Louise Mitchell in 1950.
During his marriage to Della he had an affair with Raelettes singer Margie Hendricks, with whom he had a son named Charles Wayne in 1959.
He also had an affair with Mae Mosely Lyles resulting in a daughter named Raenee in 1961. He had another daughter, Sheila Raye Charles Robinson, by Sandra Jean Betts in 1963, and yet another named Alicia, by an unidentified woman in 1966. He followed that with Alexandra by Chantal Bertrand.
His next son was Vincent, with whom he welcomed with Arlette Kotchounian; his girlfriend following his second divorce.
His last two children were Robyn, born to Gloria Moffett, and Ryan Corey born to Mary Anne den Bok in 1987.
Ray suffered from heroin addiction in his youth, which saw him arrested for possession twice: in 1961 and 1964.
He enjoyed chess as a hobby, using a special board for blind people.
He passed away in 2004 having succumbed to liver cancer.