R+B legend Ray Charles was determined to complete his final album GENIUS LOVES COMPANY, despite his debilitating liver disease which tragically ended his life yesterday (10JUN04).

The 73-year-old's producer JOHN BURK insists the star always managed to "dazzle" in the recording studio despite his rapidly declining health.

Burk recalls, "He would say, 'I'm not feeling well today but I'll take a stab at it, and I can come back to it later. And he never had to come back to it later. He expected everyone around him to be as dedicated and professional as he was."

Veteran rocker SIR ELTON JOHN says, "The death of Ray Charles is an incredible loss for the world of music. He inspired so many people and his music will live forever."

The CANDLE IN THE WIND singer recorded a duet with Charles for the icon's CD of duets with old friends and admirers - including Willie Nelson, DIANA KRALL and GLADYS KNIGHT - which is due out in August (04).

11/06/2004 16:53