RAY PRICE (1926-2013):

(Jukka Joutsi , March 2009 ~ latest additions: 18.12.2013).

A) Ray Price Dead at 87: Country Star Loses Cancer Battle ~
Singer revolutionized country music with hits like 'Crazy Arms'

(Patrick Doyle, 'Rolling Stone', 16.12.2013) ~ Ray Price, one of the greatest voices of country music, who revolutionized the genre with Number One hits like "Crazy Arms" and "City Lights," died at home in Mt. Pleasant, Texas today after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 87.
"I just like what I've done and how it's worked out, and it's been great," Price told Rolling Stone earlier this month, in his final interview. "I haven't lost my voice, thank God for that."

Price’s mournful croon stayed with him even as he packed dance halls into his late Eighties, impressing many of his peers. "The last time I worked with him, he walked up on that stage and sang hit after hit," says Loretta Lynn. "I looked at my friend and said, 'I didn't realize that many hits were there.' Forty something hits or more."
When Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard toured with Price on their Last of the Breed tour in 2007, they were blown away. "I told Willie when it was over, 'That old man gave us a goddamn singing lesson,'" Haggard told RS recently. "He really did. He just sang so good. He sat there with the mic against his chest. And me and Willie are all over the microphone trying to find it, and he found it."
Price took his own approach to delivering a song. "For me, a song should be like a good book – it has to be read right, and they don't seem to do that anymore," he told Rolling Stone in a 2000 feature story. "There's no effort anymore to do anything different. It's all follow the leader."
Price was born on January 12, 1926 in a poor and tiny East Texas town called Peach, and grew up obsessed with the Western swing sounds of bands like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. He joined the Marines at 17 before making his first record in 1949 and signing with Columbia in 1951 when he was 25. As he mentioned in his recent interview, that was the year Price befriended Hank Williams at a Nashville radio station. An impressed Williams invited Price to a show in Indiana the following day and soon wrote "Weary Blues (From Waiting)" for Price, and helped him get signed to the Grand Ole Opry. The two lived together in Nashville for the last year of Williams' life.

When Williams died in 1953, Price began using Williams' band, the Drifting Cowboys, before forming his own group, the Cherokee Cowboys. Over the years, the group featured many future stars including Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck and Willie Nelson, who played bass in Price's band in the early Sixties. A savvy businessman, Price also co-owned Nashville's Pamper Music publishing group, paying Nelson $50 a week as a songwriter early in his career.
"I've been lucky in a way – all of my boys were great players," Price said. "You can't be a great player if you don't have a great heart. If you ain't doing it for the people, you're doing it for something else."
Price was one of the first country artists to popularize drumming in the genre, scoring his first Number One country hit with 1956's "Crazy Arms," which featured the "Ray Price shuffle," a 4/4 rhythm with walking bass. "I'd played a lot of dances," Price said. "Sometimes when you're playing a lot, everyone will be dancing right in rhythm, so we'd just stop the music all of a sudden and you'd hear their feet shuffle. That kind of blew my head out. I went to the drummer and said, 'Can you give me a shuffle beat?' And it just worked out. Everyone picked up on it. I didn't have any idea what it would do, but it turned out. If there's one thing you can't take away from me, I've got that." Price was one of the first acts to bring a band with drums to the Grand Ole Opry.

Price spent his early career recording landmark albums (some of the genre's first concept albums) like 1957's Sings Heart Songs and 1963's Night Life. In the Sixties, he found success with a more professional "countrypolitan" sound (as heard on 1967's "Danny Boy") and several albums with friend Willie Nelson."We're sort of like brothers in a way, we always help each other out when we can," Price said.
Price eventually left Nashville to return to his Texas roots. "I had my fill of Nashville several years ago," he said in 2000. "Not that I don't like Nashville, I just had a lot of bad things happen there. They treat me pretty nice, but it's sort of like being a stepchild. I get a bit of respect there now just because I'm so damn old that they have to do it."

Two weeks ago, Price was looking forward to the release of his next album. "I think it's one of the greatest things I've ever recorded. The whole CD is twelve fantastic great songs. When it starts, everyone claims you can't stop listening to it. Everyone goes back and starts it over. And that's a good sign."
Asked to name his favorite recording of his career, Price chose Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times," which begins: "Don't look so sad, I know it's over / But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning / Let's just be glad, we had some time to spend together."

B) Country singer - Ray Price ~ "Strings and the Countrypolitan Sound" (2012):

When Ray Price began recording in the early 1950s, he appeared to be the singularly anointed heir to Hank Williams’s honky tonk throne. Yet Price, both innovative and fiercely independent, eventually evolved into the king of a style that came to be called "countrypolitan"—lush, carefully orchestrated, and well removed from the genre’s lean and lonesome roots. Price was, in fact, much more than a competent honky tonk singer or country’s first major artist to successfully employ intricate arrangements; he was, as music scribe Dave Marsh attested in the liner notes to The Essential Ray Price: 1951-1962, "an underrated honky tonk singer, possibly because he became such an exceptional balladeer."

Price was surely among country’s most exacting singers. He was also a genius at selecting material, early on recording songs by time-proven stars like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Bill Anderson, Mel Tillis, Jim Weatherly, Harlan Howard, and Roger Miller. Price’s influence is felt to this day; the "Ray Price beat," a laconic shuffle used on such brilliant ’50s honky tonk fare as "Crazy Arms" and "Release Me," is now the first word in country’s rhythmic language.

Known as the "Cherokee Cowboy"—he was born in Cherokee County, Texas, on January 12, 1926—Price came to music after considering other vocational options. Though raised in Dallas, Price was introduced to farming, ranching, and animal husbandry while still a boy. He chose to study veterinary science at North Texas Agricultural College in Abilene before his education was interrupted by World War II. After serving with the Marines in the Pacific, Price returned to Abilene in 1946. Ranching would remain of vital interest to him throughout his life.

By 1947 Price was playing guitar and singing with various bands at sundry social functions. In 1948 he suspended his schooling to perform regularly on radio station KRBC’s Hillbilly Circus in Abilene. Though still intent on ranching someday, in 1949 Price joined the prestigious Big D Jamboree in Dallas, sponsored by radio station KRLD. The program was eventually broadcast nationally by CBS, giving Price his initial mass exposure.

With the Nashville scene still in its infancy, Texas was the informal center of country music. One of the hot spots was Jim Beck’s recording studio in Dallas, a facility visited consistently by stars such as Lefty Frizzell and Floyd Tillman. Price began hanging around at Beck’s and soon became friendly with Frizzell; he hastily contributed a song titled "Give Me More, More, More of Your Kisses" to one of Frizzell’s 1950 sessions. After recording some undistinguished sides at Beck’s.

Price was still hard to separate from his heroes Hank Williams and Moon Mullican—he signed with the small Nashville label Bullet. His first record, "Jealous Lies," went nowhere.

Yet the Bullet recordings brought recognition: on March 15, 1951, Price signed a recording contract with the much larger Columbia label. Now socializing frequently with Frizzell, Price followed the older singer to Beaumont, Texas, where he met Hank Williams in the fall of 1951. Williams took Price under his wing, working shows with him and getting him a coveted spot on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1952 Price enjoyed his first hit, "Talk to Your Heart."

For a while Price even lived with Williams, worked with his band the Drifting Cowboys, and filled in for the troubled, self-destructive singer when he was unable to perform. Even after Williams’s death, on New Year’s Day, 1953, Price continued occasionally to front the Drifting Cowboys. But he longed for a sound closer to the western swing he first heard in east Texas, an exciting, less impassive style.

With that aim, Price formed the Cherokee Cowboys—three fiddles, bass, drums, guitar, piano, and steel guitar. By 1954 he was on his way to a fine collection of country hits. "Release Me" and the defiant "If You Don’t Somebody Will" both reached the Top Ten. On March 1, 1956, just as Elvis Presley was shaking country music to its core, Price released the Ralph Mooney-penned "Crazy Arms." In addition to unveiling his trademark shuffle, "Crazy Arms" instituted the now-traditional second harmony on each chorus and the predominance of a single, linear fiddle line.

As Price later told Country Music’s John Morthland, "The sound they had going at the time in country was a 2-4 sound with a double stop fiddle. I added drums to it and a 4-4 bass and shuffle rhythm and the single string fiddle. I don’t know where it came from; it’s just what I wanted. Everybody at the session thought it was the funniest thing they ever heard. They just thought it was strange. It was—and it was on the charts for 45 weeks." Number One for 20 weeks, "Crazy Arms" is one of country’s monumental recordings—as compelling coming across the airwaves as it was in an unlit roadhouse. In what would later seem a gentle irony, Price was then considered the hardened country traditionalist, ignoring pop’s more sugary sentiments. With the death of Williams and the decline of Frizzell, Price and his rhythmically insistent songs of hurt and disappointment nearly singlehandedly kept the hard country torch aflame in the late 1950s.

Although Price had other hits in 1956, notably "Wasted Words" and "I’ve Got a New Heartache," country music itself was struggling in the wake of Elvis’s rockabilly revolution. Price remained undaunted, refusing to sing rock and roll; indeed, the fiddles and pedal steel were even more prominent in his subsequent recordings. By the end of the ’50s, Price’s influence had become enormous.
In 1958 Price made a hit of the touching "Curtain in the Window" and Bill Anderson’s great story of urban anonymity, "City Lights." A year later he was voted favorite male country vocalist in nearly all of the major music magazines. Price’s own 1961 hit composition, "Soft Rain," was inspired by his grandfather’s death. And by the early 1960s, the Cherokee Cowboys were a way station for a future who’s who of country music: Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck played bass; Roger Miller at one point was the drummer; Hank Cochran played guitar; and Buddy Emmons was Price’s longtime pedal steel player.

Price became a huge concert attraction and continued to enjoy hit records—Nelson’s "Nightlife" was Number One in 1963—but his association with the Grand Ole Opry ended in 1964: he was dropped for not appearing the mandatory 26 weeks on the Opry stage. By the mid-1960s Price would leave Nashville, where he had taken up residence, for Texas, the result of divorce, the death of his father, and a controversial career direction.
After recording a 1957 gospel album with the Anita Kerr Singers, Price had begun seriously considering the use of orchestrated string arrangements with softer, more poignant material. "That got me on the track that people liked strings, so I began adding strings down through the years to certain songs," Price told Morthland. "I was experimenting, until I did ‘Danny Boy.’ That’s when I went all out, and that’s when it all hit the fan."
Truly, it was not until 1964’s "Burning Memories" and a 1967 remake of the standard "Danny Boy" that the world would hear the new Ray Price sound; his vocal register lowered and subdued, the fiddles and pedal steel replaced by strings, Price made widely popular countrypolitan music that left longtime hard-country fans disgusted and feeling abandoned. Once considered Hank Williams’s hand-picked successor, or at least George Jones’s great honky tonk contemporary, Price was now lumped in with more conventional crossover stars like Eddy Arnold.

Still, much of this new Price material was emotionally moving. And it improved. In 1969 Price had major hits with Kris Kristofferson’s tender lament, "For the Good Times," and Arnold’s "Make the World Go Away." He charted his final Number One in 1973, with "You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me." In 1974, after 23 years, Price left the Columbia label for ABC/Dot.

The late 1970s were uneven for Price, among the highlights a Hank Williams tribute album in 1976 and a Cherokee Cowboys reunion LP in 1977. Price moved to Monument in 1978, the label where Roy Orbison had created his dense, operatic singles. Price recorded some decent material with Monument—"Misty Morning Rain" and "Feet" were both hits. Throughout this period Price was also a highly successful rancher, donating his thoroughbreds to Texas A&M University in 1979.

By 1980 Price found it difficult to obtain a recording contract. Turning to his old sideman Willie Nelson—by then a superstar—Price recorded the superb San Antonio Rose, an album of duets. It was a stirring return to his old sound. Hits from that outing included a remake of Patsy Cline’s "Faded Love" and "Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me." In 1981 Price initiated the "Ray Price Country Starsearch," a contest that called for him to appear at the finals in all 50 states. In 1983 he performed "San Antonio Rose" for the soundtrack to the Clint Eastwood film Honky Tonk Man; he also portrayed a member of Bob Wills’s legendary band the Texas Playboys.

Since the mid-1980s, Price has largely tended to his ranching concerns; he lives outside of Dallas with his wife, Jeanie. He has recorded pleasant, though uneven, albums with several labels, including Dimension, Viva, Warners, and Step One. After reconciling the mammoth contrasts in his influential career, Price had most recently re-signed with Columbia. Ray Price’s long musical purpose has been informed by a stubborn self-reliance that found him updating hard country when it was questioning its own relevance, and then abandoning it altogether when he heard in his head a sound more compelling.


('Answers', 2012): Born Ray Noble Price, January 12, 1926, in Perryville, TX; divorced first wife, 1968; married wife Jeanie, c. 1982. Education: Attended North Texas Agricultural College, 1946.
Played guitar and sang with various bands at social functions, mid-late 1940s; performed on radio shows Hillbilly Circus, KRBC, Abilene, TX, 1948, and Big D Jamboree, KRLD/CBS, Dallas, beginning in 1950.
Worked with Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys, early 1950s; signed to Bullet label, c. 1950; signed to Columbia Records, 1951; appeared on Grand Ole Opry, 1952-64; released single “Talk to Your Heart,” 1952; formed Cherokee Cowboys, 1953; recorded gospel album with Anita Kerr Singers, 1974; signed with ABC/Dot, 1974; with Willie Nelson, recorded San Antonio Rose, 1980; recorded for various labels; re-signed with Columbia; rancher and sporadic concert performer, 1985—.

C) (Wikipedia, 4.3.2009): Ray Price (born January 12, 1926 in Perryville, Texas) is an American country and western singer/songwriter/guitarist. Some of his more famous songs include "Release Me", "Crazy Arms", "Heartaches by the Number", "City Lights", "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You", "For the Good Times", "I Won't Mention It Again", "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me", and "Danny Boy." He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
Price served in the Marines, 1944-1946, and began singing on KRBC in Abilene, Texas in 1948. He joined the "Big D Jamboree" in Dallas in 1949. He hit Nashville in the early 1950s, rooming for a short time with Hank Williams. When Williams died, Price took over his band, the Drifting Cowboys, and had minor success. He was the first artist to have a hit with "Release Me" (1954), a top five pop hit for Engelbert Humperdinck in 1967.
In 1953, Price formed his famous band, the Cherokee Cowboys. Among its members in the late 1950s and early 1960s were Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, and Johnny Bush. In fact, Miller wrote one of Ray Price's classics in 1958, "Invitation to the Blues," and sang harmony on the recording. In addition, Nelson penned the Ray Price classic "Night Life."
Price became one of the stalwarts of 1950s honky tonk music, with his such as "Talk To Your Heart" (1952) and "Release Me". He later developed the famous "Ray Price Shuffle", a 4/4 arrangement of honky tonk with a walking baseline, which can be heard on "Crazy Arms" (1956) and many of his other recordings from the late 1950s.
During the 1960s, Ray experimented increasingly with the Nashville sound, singing slow ballads and utilising lush arrangements of strings and backing singers. Examples include his 1967 rendition of "Danny Boy", and "For the Good Times" in 1970. This stylistic shift gained Price some success as a mainstream pop artist, although he lost appeal to many of his more traditionalist audience.
Price's first #1 hit since "The Same Old Me" in 1959 was "For The Good Times" in 1970. Written by Kris Kristofferson, the song also made it to #11 on the pop chart and featured a mellower Price backed up by sophisticated musical sounds, quite the opposite from the honky-tonk sounds Price pioneered two decades before. Price had three more #1 country hits in the 1970s, "I Won't Mention It Again", "She's Got To Be A Saint", and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me." His final top-ten hit was "Diamonds In The Stars" in early 1982. Price continued to have songs on the country chart through 1989.
In 2006, Price was living near Mount Pleasant, Texas and still performing in concerts throughout the country.
Ray Price worked on a his latest album entitled 'Last of the Breed' with fellow country music legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. This album was released on March 20, 2007 on the 'Lost Highway Records' label. The two-disc set features 20 country classics as well as a pair of new compositions. The trio toured the U.S. from March 9 until March 25 starting in Arizona and finishing in Illinois. This is Price's third album with Willie Nelson and first album with Merle Haggard.

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