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From the PublisherBarnes & Noble Review, 2/17/12
“One of David Ritz's finest r&b as-told-tos…Rich in insight as well as incident.”
Ray Charles (1930-2004) led one of the most extraordinary lives of any popular musician. In Brother Ray, he tells his story in an inimitable and unsparing voice, from the chronicle of his musical development to his heroin addiction to his tangled romantic life. Overcoming poverty, blindness, the loss of his parents, and the pervasive racism of the era, Ray Charles was acclaimed worldwide as a genius by the age of thirty-two. By combining the influences of gospel, jazz, blues, and country music, he invented, ...
Ray Charles (1930-2004) led one of the most extraordinary lives of any popular musician. In Brother Ray, he tells his story in an inimitable and unsparing voice, from the chronicle of his musical development to his heroin addiction to his tangled romantic life. Overcoming poverty, blindness, the loss of his parents, and the pervasive racism of the era, Ray Charles was acclaimed worldwide as a genius by the age of thirty-two. By combining the influences of gospel, jazz, blues, and country music, he invented, almost single-handedly, what became known as soul. And throughout a career spanning more than a half century, Ray Charles remained in complete control of his life and his music, allowing nobody to tell him what he could and couldn't do.As the Chicago Sun-Times put it, Brother Ray is "candid, explicit, sometimes embarrassing, often hilarious, always warm, touching and deeply human-just like his music."
Posted January 31, 2005
The story of Ray Charles is a very complex mix of sadness, triumph, struggle, and excellence. Ray first talks about his struggle on living in the south in Florida. With a hard-nosed and discipline first mother, Ray starts out with a rocky childhood. He has to witness and watch helplessly as his brother, George, drowns in a pool of water he was playing in. Next, Ray has to overcome the trials of being in poverty. The poverty-riddled roads of Florida were the breeding grounds of what made Ray what he was, a 'country' boy. Ray had to encounter various obstacles and awry things at an early and premature age. He begins to lose his sight at the peak of his childhood at six, due to glaucoma. Ray struggles to cope with his new adversity, but some how begins to progress, shown in the book by walking around town by his lonesome, and riding bicycles without any assistance or help. His mother always tried to drill into Ray¿s head that she was not always going to be there with him, and to learn from his mistakes and apply them to his daily life. When Ray lost his mother when she sent him to school for the blind, he could not cope with her loss and was in a deep state of confusion and depression. He felt as if he was by himself, and couldn¿t go on or survive without her presence. By this time in his life, he was totally blind, his sight dramatically fading by the years. As Ray grew older, he found the courage in his inner self to depart Florida and see what the rest of the world has to offer him. Ray eventually goes to Seattle, Washington, where he finds his big break in finding his own band and finding places to play for exposure and popularity. During his stay in Seattle, Ray was exposed to the dangers of drugs. He was unusually hooked on heroin by trying marijuana for the first time and becomes a heroin addict. Ray later moves to Los Angeles in 1950, because he finally has something going for him, a record deal. Swingtime Records signs Ray. He later makes a couple of hits, including ¿Baby, let me hold your hand¿ and ¿Kiss me Baby¿. It was a huge record at the time that gave Ray some noise through his arrival to Los Angeles. 1955, Ray Charles was acquired to Atlantic Records, and his debut in forming his own group called the ¿Raelettes¿. He and the Raelettes put together many songs, such as ¿What I Say¿ and ¿I¿ve got a woman¿. Ray once again switches labels and makes his most popular songs, such as his dedicational ballad to the state of Georgia, ¿Georgia on my mind¿, which later becomes the state song for Georgia, and his rebellious-side song in ¿Hit the road Jack¿. In 1965, at the peak of his success, Ray was found with possession of marijuana and heroin, and was smacked with his third arrest on this charge. Ray did not go to jail, but had to ditch his habit to avoid going to jail. In the 1980s ¿ 1990¿s, Ray could be seen with a big Pepsi can in the background and jamming to ¿You¿ve got the right one baby!¿. Ray has appeared in Super Bowls, concerts and many television shows and movies, while he racked up Grammy awards and Emmys. Ray was also married 2 times and brought 12 children into the world. Ray Charles Robinson put up his last blow to liver disease on June 10th, 2004, where he passed away in his home in Beverly Hills. Ray will never be forgotten as his life was accurately portrayed in his movie starring Jamie Foxx, Ray. Ray¿s legacy and dent he created in music will never be faded. I loved the Ray Charles story because before I wasn't too fond of him, but to read his story on how he made it to the top, was very compelling and it was extremely hard to tear yourself away from the book. I really admire his struggle from 'Rags to Riches', and how he overcame adversity to become one of America's icons. I really recommend this book to all readers, old and young, male or female, anybody. This book deserves five stars, because it vividly exposes Ray, and it is a words eye view of what his life was like.
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Posted November 28, 2013