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Ray Price


Most Popular Songs (more)

1City Lights lyrics
Ray Price
2Night Watch lyrics
Ray Price feat. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
3Over lyrics
Ray Price
4Pretend lyrics
Ray Price
5Under Your Spell Again lyrics
Ray Price
6Funny How Time Slips Away lyrics
Ray Price feat. Faron Young
7Rubber Dolly lyrics
Ray Price
8Lil' Liza Jane lyrics
Ray Price
9It Came Upon a Midnight Clear lyrics
Ray Price
10Faith lyrics
Ray Price

Most Popular Albums (more)

1Night Life
Ray Price
2San Antonio Rose
Ray Price
3Ray Price Sings Heart Songs
Ray Price
Ray Price
5Night Life
Ray Price
6Ray Price - 17 Top Ten Hits
Ray Price
7Ray Price's Greatest Hits 1
Ray Price
8The Same Old Me
Ray Price
9Beauty Is...: The Final Sessions
Ray Price
10Talk to Your Heart
Ray Price


Ray Price has covered — and kicked up — as much musical
turf as any country singer of the postwar era. He's been
lionized as the man who saved hard country when Nashville
went pop, and vilified as the man who went pop when hard
country was starting to call it's own name with pride. Actually,
he was — and still is — no more than a musically ambitious
singer, always looking for the next challenge for a voice that
could bring down roadhouse walls. Circa 1949, Price cut his
first record for Bullet at the Famous Jim Beck in Dallas. In
1951, he was picked up by Columbia, the label for which he
would record for more than twenty years. After knocking
around in Lefty Frizzell's camp for six months or so (his first
Columbia single was a Frizzell composition) Price befriended
Hank Williams. The connection brought him to the Opry and
profoundly effected his singing style. After Hank died, Price
starting stretching out more as a singer and arranger. His
experimentation culminated in the 4/4-bass driven "Crazy
Arms," the country song of the year for 1956. The intensely
rhythmic sound he discovered with "Crazy Arms" would
dominate his — and much of country in general's — music for
the next six years. To this day, people in Nashville refer to a
4/4 country shuffle as the "Ray Price beat." Heavy on fiddle,
steel, and high tenor harmony, his country work from the
late '50s is as lively as the rock & roll of the same era. Price
tired of that sound, however, and started messing around
with strings. His lush 1967 version of "Danny Boy," and his
1970 take on Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times,"
were, in their crossover way, landmark records. But few of
his old fans appreciated the fact. In the three decades
following "For the Good Times," Price's career was often an
awkward balancing act in which twin Texas fiddles are
weighed against orchestras.

Born in tiny Perryville, Texas, Price spent most of his youth
in Dallas. It was there where he learned how to play guitar
and sing. Following his high-school graduation, he studied
veterinary medicine at North Texas Agricultural College in
Abilene before he left school to join the Marines in 1942.
Price stayed in the service throughout World War II, returing
to Texas in 1946. After leaving the Marines, he initially
returned to college, yet he began to perform at local clubs
and honky tonks, as well as on the local radio station KRBC,
where he was dubbed the Cherokee Cowboy. Three years
later, he was invited to join the Dallas-based The Big D
Jamboree, which convinced him to make music his full-time
career. Shortly after joining The Big D Jamboree, the show
began to be televised by CBS, which helped him release a
single, "Your Wedding Corsage" / "Jealous Lies," on the
independent Dallas label Bullet.

Price moved to Nashville to pursue a major-label record
contract in 1951. After auditioning and failing several time,
Ray finally signed to Columbia Records, after A&R
representative Troy Martin convinced the label's chief
executive Don Law that Decca was prepared to give the
singer a contract. Previously, Law was uninterested in Price
— he turned him down 20 times and threatened Martin never
to mention his name again — but he was unprepared to give
a rival company a chance at the vocalist. Just before "Talk to
Your Heart" became a number three hit for Price in the
spring of 1952, Ray met his idol, Hank Williams, who
immediately became a close friend. Over the next year,
Hank performed a number of favors for Price, including
giving him "Weary Blues" to record and helping him join the
Grand Ole Opry. Ray also became the permanent substitute
for Hank whenever he was missing or too drunk to perform.
Following Williams' death in 1953, Price inherited the Drifting

Following the success of "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your
Eyes" in the fall of 1952, Price was quiet for much of 1953. It
wasn't until 1954 that he returned to the charts with "I'll Be
There (If You Ever Want Me)," a number two hit which kicked
off a successful year for Price that also included the Top Ten
singles "Release Me" and "If You Don't, Somebody Else Will."
Instead of capitalzing on that success, he disappeared from
the charts during 1955, as he spent the year forming the
Cherokee Cowboys. Over the course of the past two years,
he had realized that performing with the Drifting Cowboys
had made him sound too similar to Hank Williams, so he
decided to form his own group. Originally, most of the
members were lifted from Lefty Frizzell's Western
Cherokees, but over the years a number of gifted musicians
began their careers in this band, including Roger Miller,
Johnny Paycheck, Buddy Emmons, Johnny Bush and Willie

Ray returned to the charts in 1956, first with "Run Boy" and
then with "Crazy Arms," a driving honky tonk number that
immediately became a country classics. The song was one of
the first country records to be recorded with a drum kit,
which gave it a relentless, pulsating rhythm. Until Price, most
country artists were reluctant to use drums and the
instrument was even banned from the stage of the Grand Ole
Opry. The blockbuster status of the single helped change that
situation. Spending an astonishing 20 weeks at the top of the
country charts, "Crazy Arms" not only crossed over into the
lower reaches of the pop charts, but it also established Price
as a star. After the success of the single, he remained at or
near the top of the charts for the next ten years, racking up
23 Top Ten singles between the 1956 and 1966. During this
time, he recorded a remarkable number of country classics,
including "I've Got a New Heartache" (#2, 1956), "My Shoes
Keep Walking Back to You" (#1, 1957), "Make the World Go
Away" (#2, 1963) and "City Lights," which spent 13 weeks at
the top of the charts in 1958.

The momentum of Price's career had slowed somewhat by
the mid-'60s; though he was still having hits, they weren't as
frequent nor as big. His musical inclinations were also
shifting, bringing him closer to the crooning styles of
traditional pop singers. Ray abandoned the cowboy suits and
brought in strings to accompany him, making him one of the
first to explore the smooth, orchestrated sounds of late '60s
and early '70s country-pop. While it alienated some hardcore
honky tonk fans, the change in approach resulted in another
round of Top Ten hits. However, it took a little while for the
country audience to warm to this new sound — it wasn't until
1970, when his cover of Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good
Times" hit number one, that he returned to the top of the
charts. Over the next three years, he scored an additional
three number one singles ("I Won't Mention It Again," "She's
Got to Be a Saint," "You're the Best Thing That Ever
Happened to Me").

By the mid-'70s, the appeal of his string-laden country-pop
hits had diminished, and he spent the rest of the decade
struggling to get into the charts. In 1974, he left his long
-time home of Columbia Records to sign to Myrrh, where he
had two Top Ten hits over the next year. By the end of 1975,
he had left the label, signing to ABC/Dot. Though he hadn't
changed his style, his records became less popular around
the same time he signed to ABC/Dot; only 1977's "Mansion
on the Hill" gained much attention. In 1978, he switched
labels again, signing with Monument, which proved to be
another unsuccessful venture. In 1980, Price reunited with
his old bassist Willie Nelson, recording the duet album San
Antonio Rose, which was a major success, spawning the
number three hit "Faded Love." San Antonio Rose reignited
Ray's career, and in 1981 he had two Top Ten singles — "It
Don't Hurt Me Half as Bad," "Diamonds in the Stars" — for his
new label, Dimension. Price left Dimension in 1983, signing
with Warner Records. He remained at the label for one year,
and by that time, his new spell of popularity had cooled down
considerably; now, he was having trouble reaching the Top
40. That situation didn't remedy itself for the remainder of
the decade, even though he signed with two new labels: Viva
(1983-1984) and Step One (1985-1989).

By the late '80s, Ray Price had stopped concentrating on
recording and had turned his efforts toward a theater he
owned in Branson, Missouri. For most of the '90s, he sang
and performed at his theater in Branson, occasionally
stopping to record. Of all of his '90s records, the most
notable was the 1992 album Sometimes a Rose, which was
produced by Norro Wilson.

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