- Category : Entertain-Music-Instrumentalist
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Cycles 2
American singer and songwriter of the pre-Elvis '50s, who specialized in heavy emoting with songs that earned him the title of Prince of Wails. He became an overnight success when his second single, "Cry," 1951, went to No.1, making him a bobbysox sensation. He stayed on the pop charts with R'N'B until 1959 when he phased into supper clubs and extensive overseas tours. "Cry," his original hit, sold 25 million copies in his lifetime.
Born John Alvin Ray on a farm in Dallas, Oregon, Ray was the son of a father who played fiddle at square dances and a mother who was proficient at the piano. Ray was a self-taught pianist who sang in church and school. At age 10, he was tossed in the air by friends, and an accident during the horseplay brought on a hearing loss that worsened as he got older.
His first professional job was at age 15 as a singer on an Oregon radio station. He worked odd jobs and composed music when he wasn't singing. He went to Hollywood in 1949, but didn't find the film work he sought. He moved to New York, then Detroit, where a local disc jockey persuaded a Columbia Records representative to give him a chance. Two songs - "Whiskey and Gin" and "Tell The Lady I Said Goodbye" were the result. His popularity in the Midwest began to build but it wasn't until he returned to New York to record "Cry" in 1950 that his career took off.
By 1952, he owned his own music publishing house. He entertained in New York at the old Copacabana, and was a hit on a 1955 Australian tour. He also appeared at a Royal Command Performance in 1957, but his popularity had begun to fade. His first and last movie appearance was in "There's No Business Like Show Business." He performed briefly at the Rainbow Grill in New York during the early seventies and his last appearance was in Salem, Oregon in October 1989.
He married Marilyn Morrison, but they divorced in 1954. Bi-sexual, he had noted affairs with both men and women.
Ray went into a coma and died of liver failure on 2/24/1990 , Los Angeles.