Ray Price once said, “I sang ballads, sort of laid-back. I’m still a country boy.” The American Country musician of the 1950s died on Monday afternoon at the age of 87 at the East Texas Medical Center due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Price was diagnosed in 2011 and the cancer spread to his liver, lungs, and intestines. tunes like Crazy Arms, City Lights, Release Me, Too Young to Die, and Heartaches by the Number were country hits and still remembered by his fans. His band, the Cherokee Cowboys was one of the most popular country bands of the 1950s. He shifted his genre of music to a more pop flavor later in his life. This may be a tragic moment for all the fans but they let everybody know through social media that Price will always be remembered.
During the 1970s, For the Good Times was a big hit. Price liked to shuffle and implemented the honky-tonk style with charisma. He was actually much more polished than the country musicians of the 70s. His calm and sober string play used to mesmerize a lot of people, especially Americans. A well-coiffed man, Price songs like the I’ll Be There and Move On In are some more of top charted songs that connected well to his listeners. These songs will always be remembered by his true fans. His songs a had beautiful combination of both country flavor and pop music. During the period of 1958-1978, he reached Billboard Hot 100 and had 100 titles on the country music charts from 1958 to 1989.
Ray Price will always be remembered not only because of his songs, but also for his fight against injustice through his music. In 1981, at a press conference he commented, “I have fought prejudice since I got in country music and I will continue to fight it.” He added that country music belongs to all and it is a fabulous art to be kept alive in everybody’s heart.
The earlier days of Ray Price was devoted to the band of Cherokee Cowboys. The line-up included musicians like Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck. The country shuffle rhythm was brought in vogue by Ray Price and Cherokee Cowboys with only drums, bass, and some basic string instruments.
There were also controversies regarding Price’s style of singing. His earlier original scores were totally the basic honky-tonk music, later on he performed in groups and in symphonies. In 1960, the song Danny Boy became a hit on the pop charts, and made the dance-hall fans quite angry. During the 1970s, he often performed with large groups of more than 20 musicians and with orchestras in his trademark cowboy boots.
Although he was born in Dallas, his early academic career was spent in northern Texas which influenced his style of music to a great extent. Even in the year 2000 he performed 100 shows a year. His music was not only of the 1950s era, but proved to be quite popular even now. Hence, Ray Price and his songs will always be remembered.
By Sunando Basu