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Robinson, Raymond Charles (Charles, Ray)

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Born: 1930 AD
Died: 2004 AD, at 73 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Musicians, Pianists

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1930 - Born on September 23rd in Albany, Georgia. An American pianist, singer, composer, and bandleader, a leading black entertainer billed as “the Genius.” Charles was credited with the early development of soul music, a style based on a melding of gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz music.

1936-1937 - He began to go blind at six, possibly from glaucoma, completely losing his sight by age seven.

1945 - He attended the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, where he concentrated on musical studies, but left school at age 15 to play the piano professionally after his mother died from cancer (his father had died when the boy was 10).

1952-1953 - Charles recorded the boogie-woogie classic "Mess Around" and the novelty song "It Should've Been Me".

         - His arrangement for Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do" became a blues million-seller.

1954 - Charles had created a successful combination of blues and gospel influences and signed on with Atlantic Records. Propelled by Charles's distinctive raspy voice, "I've Got a Woman" and "Hallelujah I Love You So" became hit records.

1955 - Charles toured extensively in the United States and elsewhere with his own big band and a gospel-style female backup quartet called The Raeletts.

1959 - "What'd I Say" led the rhythm and blues sales charts and was Charles's own first million-seller.

1960 - He entered the pop market with the best-sellers "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road, Jack". His album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music sold more than 1,000,000 copies, as did its single, "I Can't Stop Loving You." Thereafter his music emphasized jazz standards and renditions of pop and show tunes.

1962-1973 - He formed his own custom recording labels, Tangerine and Crossover Records.

         - He appeared on television and worked in the film "Ballad in Blue" as a featured act and sound track composer.

1978 - He published an autobiography,"Brother Ray, Ray Charles' Own Story", written with David Ritz.

1986 - Charles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a Kennedy Center Honor.

1987 - The recipient of many national and international awards, he received 13 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award.

2004 - He died on June 10th in Beverly Hills, California.


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Page last updated: 11:56pm, 23rd Feb '07