Ray Charles, 1930 - 2004
He was one of the first musicians I heard when I started listening to the radio (1380 AM WAMS in Wilmington, DE) in the very early 1960s. I well remember I Can't Stop Loving You which came out in 1962, I believe. In the last 18 hours I've heard several things about Mr Charles that I didn't know:
- That his given name was Ray Charles Robinson. He dropped the Robinson professionally so he wouldn't be confused with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
- That he always had complete artistic control over his music, [unfortunately] an extremely rare thing in the music business.
- That he first recorded with a small group named the McSon (or Maxin) Trio for the Downbeat (later Swingtime) label.
- That when he switched labels from Atlantic Records, which at the time of his signing was a small independent label, to ABC Records, itr was as a producer rather than as an artist, thus ensuring some 12 times the royalties.
- That, mostly as a negotiating tactic and never expecting to get it, he asked ABC Records1 for and got ownership of his recording masters [which I believe is almost unheard of].
- That Atlantic Records sent their best engineers to Los Angeles to help design and build Mr Charles own recording studio, which Mr Charles paid for and which was designated an historic landmark on 30 April 2004 — the occasion of his last public appearance.
In 1979 ABC was bought by MCA, which subsequently merged with Geffen Records
, which in turn is part of the Universal Music Group
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