So before Friday night I knew very few things about Ray Charles. I knew that he was blind, a great musician, had a slight drug problem and did a Pepsi commercial back in the day (yes I know, my knowledge was limited). However, Friday night I went and saw “Ray Live!” at the Pasadena Playhouse. I highly recommend it. The musical/play was a unique look at Ray’s life from his perspective after he died and went about as one last live recording session of his music with various episodes from his past to fill in the blanks. Everything about the musical was amazing, the set, the music, the costumes, the story, all of it. I loved it. And what did I learn about Ray Charles from it….
– His real name is Ray Charles Robinson.
– He didn’t go blind until he was seven.
– He was incredibly self-sufficient, because his mother taught him to be that way.
– He saw his little brother drown in a river.
– He started out as a country music piano player.
– His drug problem was not slight, but rather large and heroin took over a good part of his life.
– He was smart, but at the same time very untrusting.
– He was a serious ladies’ man. Married with three kids and still messed around on the side.
– He was arrested twice for drugs and then finally cleaned up.
– He was banned from the state of Georgia for refusing to perform in a segregated arena.
Amazing. I had no idea about any of his life story so I, as usual, became compelled to know more and actually watch the movie Ray. So last night Matt and I watched it and I learned a few more usual facts about Ray Charles.
– Once he started going blind his mother became more strict with him so that he could learn to take care of himself.
– His little brother actually fell into a wash bucket and drowned.
– His song “Georgia” became the state of Georgia’s national song and his banning sentence was revoked in the late 70s.
– One of his ‘road wives’ got pregnant and left him.
– He was completely involved in making the movie of his life and gave Jamie Foxx the okay (other side note, Jamie Foxx went to college on a piano scholarship, he can really play!).
Okay so of course a play and a movie wouldn’t suffice my curiosity for random people facts, so this morning I went to Wiki and they provided just a few more snip its that weren’t in the play or the movie…
– Ray was married twice. Not once like both the play and the movie made it seem.
– He fathered twelve children from seven different women (the movie made it only seem like one kid on the side), and has 21 grandchildren and 5 great grand children (oy!).
– His wife Della B eventually divorced him after twenty two years of marriage.
Okay well the add on about his kids and marriages was about the only new info I got from Wiki, but I still thought it was really interesting. I don’t know what it is, but if there is ever a true story movie I am just compelled to know more about it. So with this said, don’t be surprised if I go read Ray’s life story or something. I can only imagine that there are several books about him, granted I think I’d be most curious to read something by one of his kids or Della B.
Well here’s to you Mr. Charles. You may have been a druggy playboy for a long time, but you sure made some amazing music…