Ray Charles R.I.P.
I've been a fan of Ray Charles
, who died yesterday aged 73, since, oh, 1963. I was a teenager on an exchange visit to France and Pierre had all the great call and response hits such as Hit The Road Jack
. This, of course, is Jakartass' theme song.
I went to a concert at the RFH in 1965/6 with Anthea, the great could-have-been love of my student days, and was getting kinda itchy because the Ray Charles Orchestra played, the Raelettes sang ~ but where was the Genius? What, or who, we got instead was Billy Preston
. And he blew us away. In those days, dancing in the aisles was not the done thing. But we did, and I presume George Harrison did too because Billy became a great mate and ended up with song-writing credits on Let It Be
And Ray came on for the second half. No schmaltz; he was just the way we wanted, a little wonky on his legs as he tried not to stray too far from his piano but driving r'n'b with the power of his band and the gospel of the Raelettes. Listen to Otis Redding, and early Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Van Morrison and Georgie Fame and ask if they too were at that gig.
Ray's earliest recordings were inspired by the Nat King Cole Trio, music I listened to on the MFP
and other cheap labels from Woolworth's. I bought jazz albums such as Soul Brothers
with Milt Jackson on vibes, duet albums with Betty Carter and (now Dame) Cleo Laine ~ Porgy and Bess
, and Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
which gave the hit I Can't Stop Loving You
. And my all-time favourite is Genius + Soul = Jazz
, a storming affair with the Count Basie Orchestra, then in its atomic prime, and arrangements by Quincy Jones. Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, hello pop pickers, used From The Heart
as his signature tune.
And now for today.
1. British local election results
~ Tories and Lib Dems make gains
2. More than you probably want to know about Euro 2004
3. Brit identified
. I promised to let you know about the Brit found wandering non compost mentis in Kemang.
Thank you for your e-mail. We have now reliably identified the gentleman who was found in Kemang and are certain he is not the person you mentioned.
Thanks for your interest.