Some more sad news for music lovers out there, Texas-born country music legend Ray Price passed away on Monday at the age of 87. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Price, he penned country classics “Release Me”, “Crazy Arms”, “Heartaches by the Number”, “For the Good Times”, “Night Life” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”. Price was a consummate performer as well and continued to tour and record well into his eighties.
Price was born in Perryville, Texas and began singing for KRBC in Abilene, Texas in the late 1940s. He moved to Nashville in the early 1950s, and even shared a room, for a brief period, with the legendary Hank Williams. When Hank passed away, Price managed his band, the Drifting Cowboys and had some minor success in 1954 with the song “Release Me”.
In the early 50s, Price formed the Cherokee Cowboys, who boasted Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck and others as alumni. In fact, Roger Miller wrote one of Ray Price’s classics in 1958, “Invitation to the Blues”, and sang harmony on the recording. Willie Nelson also composed the song “Night Life”.
Throughout the 1950s, Ray Price largely became associated with the honky tong sound. He even developed what would be known as the “Ray Price Shuffle” which featured a 4/4 beat accompanied by a walking bassline, which can be famously heard on his 1956 classic “Crazy Arms.”
Price began to experiment with the popular “Nashville sound” of the 1960s and scored four Number 1 country music hits throughout the 1970s with “For the Good Times”, “I Won’t Mention It Again”, “She’s Got To Be A Saint” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”. He continued to chart throughout the 80s and started to focus primarily on gospel music in the later part of his life but he will always be remembered as one of the heavy hitters of that early honky tonk sound.
In 2012, Price announced that he had been fighting pancreatic cancer, yet still continued to tour. But, on December of this year, Price entered the hospital in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, eventually going home for hospice care. He died at home in Mt. Pleasant, Texas on Monday, surrounded by family and friends.
Price was one of the last surviving members of country music’s honky tonk era. Personally, I feel that the records recorded during this time were some of the most exciting ever recorded in country music, or music in general. It was emotionally raw music that made no effort to conform to pop standards and in recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence in the sound that Price and his contemporaries, like the legendary Hank Williams Sr., pioneered.
This week on the Mid-Week Beat, we pay tribute to “real” country music and the legendary Ray Price.
Rest in peace Ray. Country music won’t be the same without you old buddy.
Here are some upcoming shows on our site that will please fans of Ray Price’s music.
Thursday, December 19 I Concho Resources presents Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison w/ Warren Hood Band – Midland, Texas
Country music is known for its famous couples: Johnny Cash and June Carter, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and many more. But not all country couples work together. Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis have largely worked apart in their nearly two decades of marriage, Robison writing #1 hits for the likes of George Strait and The Dixie Chicks, and Willis singing her way through a career that has lasted two decades.
In 2013, they came together to record Cheater’s Game, an album that’s half originals and half covers of tunes by respected country songwriters like Dave Alvin and Hayes Carll. The album has received critical raves and earned the couple an Americana Music Award nomination as Duo/Group of the Year and for Album of the Year.
Join them at the Yucca Theatre in Midland for a special evening of their best songs combined with their unique take on Christmas favorites that everyone will love. The critically acclaimed Warren Hood Band opens.
Monday, December 30 I Wanda Jackson, The Silks, Toy Soldiers – Provincetown, Rhode Island
Widely known and respected as “The Queen of Rockabilly,” Wanda Jackson is credited with being the first woman to ever record a rock and roll song—“Let’s Have a Party” in 1958. In 2009, Jackson was inducted into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and, in 2010, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Awards.
Unfinished Business, Jackson’s new album is out now on Sugar Hill Records. This is Jackson’s 31st studio album and marks the producing debut of fellow renowned musician and songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Of the release, The Wall Street Journal asserts, “Her twangy cap-gun voice and feisty confidence haven’t dimmed much…,” while Relix magazine heralds, “Jackson teases, taunts and tells off bad-news guys during the album’s many youthful numbers…for a firecracker, she’s got phenomenal emotional range.” In celebration of the release, Jackson is currently in the midst of a nationwide tour in support of the new album, including this show in Provincetown, Rhode Island.
The new album follows Jackson’s 2011 Jack White-produced The Party Ain’t Over, which received both widespread critical and commercial acclaim. Of the record, NPR Music raved “At 73, she still exudes a youthful sound and spirit, and decorates her unique voice with an effortlessly deep and gravelly swoop at the most unexpected times,” while The New York Times noted Jackson “still sounds fantastic, and her gnarled, feisty vocals are a good fit with Mr. White’s scrappy production.” Moreover, the album found Jackson enjoying her first ever charting on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at #58. Jack White declared “[Jackson is] influential to every modern female singer, whether they know about her or not. She broke down those walls in the beginning, when it was the hardest to do.”
Tuesday, December 31 I NEW YEARS EVE JAMBOREE! GIRLS GUNS AND GLORY TRIBUTE TO HANK WILLIAMS with very special guests SARAH BORGES and BILLY WYLDER – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Boston’s own Girls Guns & Glory return to the Lizard Lounge to perform their 4th Annual Tribute to Hank Williams for two shows – New Years Eve and New Years Day. A dazzling performance featuring the timeless country classics of Hank Williams, plus a few obscurities that GGG has picked up in their quest to absorb as much as they can from the master of heartache.
This year the boys will be joined by none other than songstress Sarah Borges and Boston’s own Billy Wylder for New Years Eve. Expect duets, expect special guests & expect to be there, for this is a show not to be missed.
Ray Price’s biographical information courtesy of his Wikipedia page.