Ray Charles Dies

Ray Charles, the Grammy-winning crooner who blended gospel and blues in such crowd-pleasers as "What'd I Say" and ballads like "Georgia on My Mind," died Thursday at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family and friends, a spokesman said. He was 73. Blind by age 7 and an orphan at 15, Charles spent his life shattering any notion of musical boundaries and defying easy definition. A gifted pianist and saxophonist, he dabbled in country, jazz, big band and blues, and put his stamp on it all with a deep, warm voice roughened by heartbreak from a hardscrabble childhood in the segregated South. Elvis recorded his compositions "I Got A Woman" and "What 'd I Say". You can hear Elvis sing a fragment of "Crying Time" in "That's the Way It Is".
Source: Reuters / Updated: Jun 10, 2004 
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Null (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 22, 2004report abuse
I have always been frustrated (and somewhat insulted) as an Elvis fan, and a Rock fan in general, over this whole Elvis Presley as THE great thief of African-American culture. This view, combined with the great unsubstantiated quote attributed to Elvis; "The only thing a black man is good for is shining my shoes" ,suits some people's political / intellectual agenda,but is not grounded on fact. A good point of entry is Elvis' recording history at Sun. what seems to get lost in this whole (Race)argument is that for every blues/R&B/what have you, that Elvis recorded, there was a country western song on the flip (or the A side as was saw fit). That was Sam Phillips' vision with Elvis-bringing it all together in one place with an artist that was capable of pulling it off. As far as the "Hound Dog" controversey goes (for some the proof to the theorem), one has to go no further than Leiber/Stoller, two (white) songwriters that have attested to how different Elvis'
version was than the song they had written and was originally performed by Big Momma Thornton. In the end, I'm sorry that Sammy davis Jr., and Jackie wilson (who said that Black artists actually stole from Elvis(!)) are'nt around to be interviewed about thier relationships and views on Elvis.
King Of Western Bop (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 21, 2004report abuse
Pareto. It's OK to have different opinions - it's just that yours seem to change every now and then. Now you suggest that Elvis wasn't very good at playing instruments. Before you said he couldn't play. Which is it? He was good enough to play the bass intro to "Baby I Don't Care", the lead guitar part on the original recording of "One Night" (yes, it was Elvis playing), and numerous recordings featuring him playing acoustic guitar and piano. He may not have been a Jimmy Hendrix or an Eric Clapton when playing but he didn't play badly enough to make his recordings sound bad. 18 UK No.1's and an estimated 2 billion records sold worldwide.

It seems the likes of Ray Charles and others who wish to pick holes in Elvis' talent and reputation are rather irritated by the fact that it was a white man who changed the face of popular music - and the fact that he did it singing black music. Instead of accusing him of "stealing" black music (I didn't actually know that any type of music belonged to any one racial group. I can't remember anyone accusing Nat King Cole of stealing white music) perhaps he should have been thanked for bringing it to the fore in a time when such things were taboo, and at the same time kicking down the doors for both black and white artists to follow. How many black and white kids openly attended the same concerts before the advent of Rock n Roll? Not many to be sure.

His contribution to music is long overdue its due. He was a great talent who changed music and popular culture - and it was a white man who did it. Live with it because nothing is going to change that fact. Maybe one day his contribution will be fully recognised, though I won't hold my breath waiting while we still have people calling him a no-talent who got a lucky break. Luck had nothing to do with it. Try thinking "talent" for once.
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 16, 2004report abuse
Amongst other things, Ray Charles accused Elvis of being a racist, which anyone who has any knowledge of Elvis will know is definitely not true. I'm sorry he is dead, but disliked intensely his incorrect views on Elvis.
pacer1965 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 15, 2004report abuse
I can except that some people say Elvis was not good at certain things. But I cannot agree when people say he was not talented you dont stay in the music business for over 20 years if you have no talent. I was not born when Elvis came out in the 1950s I became an Elvis fan when I was about seven. In the ghetto was the song what done it for me so it was nothing to do with his looks or the way he moved on stage. Seven year olds dont really care about things like that. I dont really care what Ray charles thought of Elvis cause in my opinion Elvis is still the king and always will be.
pareto (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 15, 2004report abuse
One thing I learned for sure, to try to have an intelligent discussion on positive or less positive parts of an artist, in this case both Elvis Presley and Ray Charles, with very "objective" fans seems to be similar to criticizing Saddam when he was still in power. I thought a forum was thought to change opinions?or are different opinions on a certain matter not accepted anymore?is someone who thinks Elvis wasn't that great instrument player after all only half a fan?whatever...I agree with hillbillycat when he says that elvis fans sometimes can be a total embarassment
lDevoted Fan (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 15, 2004report abuse
I will never forget the dismissive and insulting way Ray Charles talked about Elvis on the Costas show. It was shocking in its bitter and dismissive tone. You had to see it. It was the first thing I thought of when I heard of the death. No one says disrespectful or ugly things about Elvis when I am around. Not allowed. Also, what a darn shame that Elvis's version of "America" is not played more often than the other person's version. I am in solidarity with all fans who defend Elvis and are angry with anyone who insults him. TCB.
pacer1965 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 14, 2004report abuse
Thanks cdking for your comments. I was beginning to think this was a anti Elvis site. Some of the comments about Elvis i have found very upsetting and insulting. Elvis was very talented. I dont mind people giving there opinion but to say Elvis was just lucky and had no talent is wrong. Elvis is dead as well so give him some respect too. R.i.p Elvis and Ray charles !
Abidaslam1 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 13, 2004report abuse
Well said CDKing! The grace, humour, silent dignity and lack of prejudice of Elvis Presley makes him a King loved by millions.
CD King (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 13, 2004report abuse
Elvis had a real tough beginning too.He was born in a one room shack.Family wes so poor that they had to pack up and leave Tupelo for Memphis to find greener pasture.He drives a truck to help support his family. Elvis Presley made it because of his sheer talent. Brought up as a Spirit Filled Christian, he's always been humble and always respect his fellow men. Unlike the other power crazy fellas like LITTLE RICHARD who claims that only he and he alone can lay claim to the title THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL. But JERRY LEE LEWIS think otherwise, he says that only HE is the true King Of Rock Roll. BILL HALEY believes he's the original King of Rock n Roll also. Now there's this crazy Wacko Jacko who claims to be the KING OF POP. But when someone gave Elvis a crown in Aloha from Hawaii -Elvis refused to wear it. When somebody shouted in the audience "Elvis, You're the KING"..Elvis smiled an said, "No, I'm not the King, There is only One KING and that JESUS CHRIST.." Elvis never attacked anyone in his life. He always said that "There's enough place for everybody in the music business" but we have some blinded racist fools who claims that ELVIS PRESLEY has no talent etc What a donkey.
pareto (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
This whole discussion is getting silly, what's the sense of arguing on who was better than the other and blablabla.
The news was that Ray Charles was blind by 7 and orphan by 15, that's a tough destiny, for either white or colored. He contributed to music history and every music fan owes any of those early musicians great respect. No matter if the name is Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich or whoever. They did a lot for music, some were lucky others were not so lucky in life. Elvis was one of the more fortunate ones, he realized that and gave back a big part of his luck to his fans. All those names are written in big letters in the Halls of Fame, who are we to be sitting here judging them? We think we know everything better just because we read books...yeah rite, big contribution to world's history
Gallivant (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Hey Hillybillycat, I am just the guy who has the police report describing the incident in Memphis, when Jerry Lee Lewis demanded to see Elvis, shouting outside the gates of Graceland to whomever was there at the time to hear, that he was the king of Rock and Roll, not Elvis. I have listened to every recording that JLL has ever made, so I am equally convinced of his greatness, as you are. But no matter how great JLL was, and is, both in the studio, and live, all you have to do to realize the impossibility of him being the best at what he did, which is to entertain others, is to realize how effortlessly Elvis could do so by first pleasing others, then only himself, and not the other way around which was, regrettably, JLL`s way.
stu (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Jerry Lee Lewis was intoxicated when he stated he was the best. He must have been to say such a silly thing! He was/is good, great even but, certainly not the best!
hillbillycat (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Gallivant, you should also remeber that Elvis himself hated the title " The King" believing it only worthy of Jesus, and who are you to judge Jerry Lee Lewis, you obviously believe that some people regard him as the king of rock n roll to have brought him into this topic, i would doubt you have any real knowledge of The Killer, Jerry never claimed to be the king, only the best, and when it comes to rock n roll many would agree.
Gallivant (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Memphis Martin, I totally disagree with you on artists having the right to knock other artists, freely that is. You say the important thing is that Ray Charles influenced Elvis because he sang "I got a woman" the moment he first heard it. Does that, in itself, give him the right to knock someone he´s influenced? Was he his sole mentor? Did he spend hours trying to teach Elvis how to sing so that, when his student´s product came out, he felt totally disappointed? If that was the case, then Elvis could have knocked the Beatles, as well as they 10,000 musicians, 1000 of them extremely well known, and at least 100 of them supersrtars on their own right, for having been influenced by him, directly. No, Ray Charles was about 25th in the list of people who directly influenced Elvis, and if you want me to cite them for you, all you have to do is ask. The unvarnished truth of the matter is that Ray Charles had a huge chip on his shoulder as far as other performers were concerned, especially if they were not african americans. It´s all there, in the press, for everyone to read. Time after time, all he can say about white performers who admired him, and were influenced by him, is putting them down. His criticism of Joe Cocker, for instance, in a Rolling Stone interview, in 1973, was really distasteful. A musical genius, yes, but a kind person, well, that´s a different matter.
gribz (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Pareto, I am a Christian man too, and those statistics are facts. Ray Charles displayed the lack of respect when he made those comments. It showed a lapse in judgement on his part, and he should of apologized for offending Elvis's fans. That would of been the right thing to do.. He was wrong, so don't try to justify his comments. This is an Elvis board. Respect it..
Gallivant (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Double standards, Pareto, we all fall into this category!!
So, according to you, Ray Charles can criticize, openly, in the media and in front of 4 million viewers someone who not only did not ever criticize him, but who was his fellow entertainer, his fan and, being already dead, could not defend himself ( all his extremely rude comments about Elvis, including the ones on the NBC Costas show, were following Elvis death...), and now, we, according to you, can not do likewise in this here board, which happens to be a private board, meant to be used by Elvis fans. You have got to be kidding!! Also, what I meant about his death not meaning anything to me, was in the sense that I shall keep on listeinng to him, just as I have, but that in doing so I could care less whether he was dead or alive, since I shall not be thinking of him as a dead person, which is totally the opposite as when I listen, or speak, or think about Elvis, which invariably makes me think about the brother I lost on August 16, 1977.
stu (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
RIP Ray. When the Gates of Heaven opened, I'm sure Elvis was there, with a big smile to welcome you. Pareto, (as an old Indian once said) "you speak with forked tongue"! Anyone who has been an Elvis fan for 30 years would know that Elvis could play instruments! I'm sure that if he wanted to, Elvis could have wrote some great lyrics. He simply chose not to. In the 50s he was too busy, in the 60s he was having too much fun and in the 70s he probably couldn't be bothered. Had he lived longer, who knows?
pareto (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
I am pretty shocked by those two last comments, one tells delirious things and the other one quotes some cd-booklet he happens to have read these days. I'm an Elvis fan and as a christian I can't accept those comments about a dead person.Leave the dead alone, they deserve the eternal peace. It's not your duty anymore to judge them.
Gallivant, to say that you couldn't care less about a man's death shows your total disrespect for human beeing. Remember that Elvis was a great person exactly because he respected people, dead or alive. What would you feel if someone said that the day it's your turn?
gribz (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 12, 2004report abuse
Thank -You Gallivant.. As great as Ray Charles was, he could never be on the level of Elvis.. Elvis sold the most records, had the most number 1's, the most top ten's, the most top 40's. He could sing country, blues, Gospel and Pop with equal eaze, and he looked awesome in his prime. More people visit Graceland than anywhere else, outside of the Whitehouse, and Elvis shows no sign of dying anytime soon... It's a shame that a talented man like Ray Charles would impair his integrity by saying such foolish things.. Looks like OL' Ray was more than just physically blind.... Ray's voice was nothing to brag about technically, and he was not an attractive man. These are facts that can't be disputed or argued. For those that try to defend Ray's comments, you're all deluded. This is an Elvis board..
Gallivant (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
And one last thing, about Kings, and such accolades, which are really not understood by the public are large. A King, as a title bestowed upon an artist, or a figure in sports, or anything not having to do with royalty, as we know it, is not the equivalent of a CEO, or a President of a Company, or a CPA, or someone whose title has been accorded suppossedly because he is the best at what he does. This misunderstanding, is the main reason why Berry, Diddley, Charles, and a few of Elvis´other contemporaries, keep ranting about the title being given to the wrong man. For a King to be named one, he must jave subject, the more the merrier. And for his title not be taken away, he must be graceful, and patient. He must act, and live, as Kings are suppossed to do, both regal, and always commanding, but with modesty, not only to those in their court, but with love for his subjects. And for these subjects to pass on their love and devotion to future generations, they must also be fragile, and deserving of their compassion. They must be human, and kind. That is why someone like, inter-alia, Jerry Lee Lewis could have never been called a King of anything.
Elvis was called a King before he reached his 22 birthday, and he remains one, 26 years after passing away. There are many reasons for that...
Gallivant (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
We live in a world where everyone has a right to an opinion, but the moment that opinion is not backed by facts, then a person is bound to receive a tart on his face. Ray admitted the possibility of throwing one, into his own face, when he said that he´s lose maybe a third of his fan for knocking Elvis. This is typical of men, as they get older, some settle down, others just can help wanting to hear the sound of their own voice, as they throw unpleasentries on the way of their contemporaries. The only reason Ray should have not knocked Elvis, was his inability to grasp the magnitude of Elvis on a stage. Remember, he went blind at age 7, a time when no one, not even a genius such as Ray was, can even remember, or discern, about what makes other people´s movements, expressions so much a part of a public, let alone the concept of raw beauty. Ray Charles must have been told what Elvis looked on a stage, what he did with it, the massive connection he established, from the start. But not being able to even imagine it, he was therefore in no position to question why Elvis was called the King. He had the looks, the voice (s), the moves, and the incredible connection with the public to back it all up, whether standing still, sitting on a piano ( which he needn´t master), playing with a mike, strumming a guitar, or just leaning into the public on a stage, or standing perfectly still. That kind of connection, and that kind of package is what landed him the title. If Ray Charlkes went to his grave not understanding it, it is too bad for him.
Meanwhile, we can still cherish every moment we spent listening to Ray, irrespective of how he felt about Elvis.
As to his passing away, I could care less, really.
jeremytcb (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
Ray Charles was a talent no doubt. Like others have said, too bad he wasn't as gracious a person as Elvis. The sad thing is, the anti-Elvis quotes are not old - he was saying them recently on late night talk shows. A person who feels the need to do that over and over through the years is showing a sad part of their character. As an Elvis fan, I do not have to overlook that because the mad died. A talent? Sure. Always a class act? Sadly, no. But still, thanks for the music.
hillbillycat (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
For gods sake, every time an artist dies, we have people digging out there anti-elvis quotes, it happened when johnny cash died and now with ray charles, you all seem to base the quality of an artist on whether he had a good opinion of elvis, let's just all respect the passing of a superb talent. sometimes elvis fans are a total embarrasment. R.I.P
King Of Western Bop (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
Pareto. Elvis couldn't play an instrument? Then why do many of his recordings feature him playing acoustic and electric guitar, piano and even bass?? Have you never watched the '68 Special? Why do so many people point out that Elvis never wrote a song or played an instrument? (and the latter is factually incorrect anyway). Why should that be the measure of a great artist anyway? How many operas has Pavarotti ever written? Yet no-one could doubt his mastery of his given art. It is usually a rule of thumb that songwriters make poor singers. The Beatles can't be said to have had great individual voices. And Elvis' version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is far superior to the original Simon & Garfunkel version. As to Ray Charles, his voice was a much of a muchness.
James69 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
“I guess I’m going to lose at least a third of my fans, but to say that Elvis was so great and so outstanding – like they say, he’s ‘The King’ – I don’t think of Elvis like that because I know too many artists that are, were far greater than Elvis. I think Elvis was a person who came along at the right time. Here was a white kid that could rock and roll, or rhythm and blues, or whatever you want to call it, and the girls would swoon over him. Black people been goin’ out shakin’ their behind for centuries. What the hell’s unusual about that, shaking the hipps and stuff? And that’s all Elvis was doing, was copying that. And he was doing our kind of music. He was doing the Willie Mae Thornton ‘Jailhouse Rock’ (sic!) – that’s black music. So what am I supposed to get so excited about, man? I think all that stuff about saying he’s ‘The King’ – that’s a piece of bunk”. Ray Charles on the NBC ‘Now’ TV show, 1994.
TonyP (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
As you say MemphisMartin, Elvis said "There's room for everybody, I hate to criticise another performer". It's too bad other performers, including Ray Charles, aren't as gracious. To say Elvis had no talent was pretty pathetic, bitter and ill-informed. Ray Charles was certainly a talent, but fairly one-dimensional in my view. There are some great recordings, but I don't think he had a particularly versatile voice. It's sad for his family and fans that he's passed away, but I'm not going to start unduly praising him just because he's no longer with us.
Elvisa (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
CD King i fully agree with your comments. JEALOUS which what Ray was but there won't be another Elvis Aaron Presley!! 'TCB'
pareto (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
I totally understand what Ray Charles meant when he said Elvis was untalented, Elvis just happened to be the right guy with the right looks at the right place at the right moment Some other great talents are hardly mentioned in Rock n Roll-history, Charlie Rich for example was also a memphian singer that recorded for Sun, he had a tremendous voice, but noone even cares where he is buried today
Ray Charles wanted to say that Elvis got too much attention while others didn't, Elvis had a phenomenal voice tone but couldn't play and couldn't write songs
Lennon and McCartney were able to do all three things and so could Ray Charles, I think he didn't mean to discredit Elvis as a singer, he was more criticizing the whole musical ensemble of Elvis Presley and even the biggest Elvis-Fan out there has to admit that he wasn't that wrong with his judgement I ve been an Elvis Fan for 30 years and nevertheless I can live with critics on Elvis and can sometimes even agree on certain different opinions about him
MemphisMartin (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
Jeez, some elvis fans have such long memories and tunnel vision, Other artists are allowed to knock elvis, their entitled to their opinion. The important thing is elvis was influenced by Ray Charles. He sang I Got A Woman on the Hayride, it was the first song recorded in his debut session for RCA. He also used it quite a lot in his live performances up to his death. Please give a little more respect to what Ray Charles was, an excellent artist.
As Elvis once said "There's room for everybody, I hate to criticise another performer". Rest in peace, Ray you will be missed.
Kenneth (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
HE knocked ELVIS every chance he got.rest in peace RAY.
pilot71 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
We will always remember you as good musician. Rest well Ray...
CD King (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
Did you guys knows that Ray Charles dislike Elvis and was pretty jealous of Him? Can't blame him as he has never had the chance to SEE Elvis Presley.
Marco Aurelio (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 11, 2004report abuse
Rest in peace Ray. We´ll remember you!
dismas (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 10, 2004report abuse
Very sad news. "Brother Ray," the original soul man, was not only an American musical treasure, but a legendary musical icon throughout the world. God bless him. I'll even forgive him for opining in a 1990s interview that Elvis had little talent to speak of. Even a musical genius can be wrong some of the time!
TCB fan (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 10, 2004report abuse
Rest In Peace
Renan (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 10, 2004report abuse
Now I´m really sad. And today I was talking with some friends about Elvis and songs he recorded from Ray Charles. And now this news. Rest in peace and certainly God prepared a nice place to him. We will miss you

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