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Ray Charles

Real name: Ray Charles Robinson
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single
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Biography

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) known by his stage name Ray Charles, was a pioneering American pianist and soul musician who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music, pop standards, and a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sang it."

When he was six, Charles began to go blind, becoming totally blind by the age of seven. Charles never knew exactly why he lost his sight, though there are sources which suggest Ray's blindness was due to glaucoma. He attended school at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He also learned how to write music and play various musical instruments. While he was there, his mother died. His father died two years later.

In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for nearly 20 years . It was his third arrest for the offense, but he avoided prison time after kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles. He spent a year on parole in 1966.

In 1989, Charles recorded a cover version of the Japanese band Southern All Stars' song "Itoshi no Ellie" as "Ellie My Love" for a Suntory TV advertisement, reaching #3 on Japan's Oricon chart. Eventually, it sold more than 400,000 copies, and became that year's best-selling single performed by a Western artist for the Japanese music market.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Charles made appearances on The Super Dave Osbourne Show, where he performed and appeared in a few vignettes where he was somehow driving a car, often as Super Dave's chauffeur. At the height of his newfound fame in the early nineties, Charles did guest vocals for quite a few projects. He also appeared (with Chaka Khan) on long time friend Quincy Jones' hit "I'll Be Good To You" in 1990, from Jones' album Back on the Block.

Following Jim Henson's death in 1990, Ray Charles appeared in the one-hour CBS tribute, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. He gave a short speech about the deceased, stating that Henson "took a simple song and a piece of felt and turned it into a moment of great power". Charles was referring to the song It's Not Easy Being Green, which Charles later performed with the rest of the Muppet cast in a tribute to Henson's legacy.

In June, 2003, Ray Charles presented one of his greatest admirers, Van Morrison, with his award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the two sang Morrison's song from the Moondance album, "Crazy Love". This performance is captured on Morrison's 2007 album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3.

Charles was married twice and fathered twelve children by seven different women. He was married for the first time to Eileen Williams on July 31, 1951. This marriage produced no children and ended in divorce in 1952. Three children are from his second marriage to Della Beatrice Howard Robinson, one of his original Raelettes, whom he married on April 5, 1955. They divorced in 1977. His long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.

Charles was expected to attend a showing of the completed film, but he died before it opened in theaters.



 


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