Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jonnie Ray (1951)

John Alvin ‘Johnnie ‘Ray was born on January 10, 1927 in Dallas, Oregon. He was from a North American Indian origin and was heavily influenced by Rhythm, Blues, and gospel music. When we was 12 years old he lost his hearing in his right ear and had to wear a hearing aid for the rest of his life. He began performing as small clubs and bars in Detroit to his own piano accompaniment. He became truly popular in 1951 when he signed a contract with Okeh records. He was considered a white man singing with a black mans voice. His most famous song being Cry, became a multimillion dollar seller. He was known for his emotions shown while he performed. He was essentially hated by Frank Sinatra because Tony Bennett called Ray “the father of Rock’N’Roll,” and his vocal abilities were acknowledge and admired worldly. He was also known for his overtly sexual performances. His song, Such a Night, was eventually banned from radio stations. He gained a role in the film There’s No Business like Show Business. Ray was eventually though gaining a reputation for soliciting, by preferring a life of bisexuality, and drug-taking. To get away from the critics in the US, Ray concentrated on the UK market gaining 3 top ten hits between 1952 and 1957. Ray still made regular appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. As the music style changed, Ray switched back to cabaret style. He eventually became dependent on alcohol and died of liver failure in 1990.

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