Thirteen years later he started going up to London and bought his pride and joy guitar at the time, the Hofner President. Straight away Ray took it into the famous 2i's coffee bar and sat in the front row (Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard started there). Jet Harris (later to become The Shadows bass player) was at the 2i's as a talent scout. After singing one song backed by The Worried Men, Jet signed Ray up for Kent Walton's "Cool for Cats Roadshow".
Appearances at all the big West End night clubs followed. "I remember playing Winstons with my band The Dynamoes one night and in the audience were Michael Megwin (film actor), Stubby Kaye (American musical star) and Elmer Cogan (recording artist), it felt great singing to them". After this Ray signed to Izzy Bon and did a tour of US airbases. Izzy then booked Ray and his group to do the BBC television show Caravan.
It was live show and unfortunately was never recorded. Ray then auditioned for the famous Arthur Lowe agency, they made a few recordings of his songs, they were then sent to Les Conn of Melcher Music, who offered him a publishing contract for the songs. Les then fixed a recording session. The session was successful and Ray suggested that the tapes be passed on to the now legendary producer Joe Meek.
Joe not only liked Ray's sound , but he thought he was a good songwriter too. Ray was about to be signed up to RGM Sound. A session was soon booked, and Joe asked Ray to write something. "I came up with the song "Lonely Weekend" which I wrote very quickly on the Green Line bus from Hoddesdon to Holloway Road.
I was hoping this would be the 'A side' of my first single, following favourable reports from a number of other people, including the musicians in the studio. Joe had other ideas. Joe decided to relegate it to the 'B side', insisting on promoting "The Coalmens Lament" instead as the A side". After Ray left Joe Meek, he concentrated on his writing and in 1968, took a dozen new songs to a new British Record Company named Lucky Records (a subsidary of PYE).
This resulted in his first LP "Aligator River". This album was backed by The Dynamoes and also featured legendary guitarist Albert Lee. Ray's second LP was released in 1972. Called "Going Up Country", it was released on Avenue Records.
This was a huge success and has sold over 300,000 copies. It is the biggest selling British country album ever! Ray was presented with a gold disc for this album ten years later. In the same year Ray released the self composed single, "Tutenkhamen" for Phoenix Records. Rolf Harris released a single at the same time with the same title! Promotion and airplay, needless to say, suffered because of this.
Consequently both singles bombed. In 1973 Ray released his third LP, "Country Seasons". This was recorded at Joe Brown's own studio. It was released on the Phillips label.
Joe engineered the sessions, and also played banjo and jews harp. "Joe is a great bloke to work with and has become a good mate". The following year Ray released his third single "Nebraska Sunrise". Both A and B sides were self penned.
It was released in America on the DOT label. It received a hit-pick in Record World, saying "The sun is coming up on this record". This song was later covered by Buddy Knox on his 1987 release "Texas Rockabilly Man". In late 1974 Ray's fourth LP came out on the Emerald Gem label through Decca called "Midnight through to 3AM".
Al Saxon did all the arrangements and played electric piano. In 1979, Ray played the Wembley Empire Pool as part of the 11th International Country Music Festival supporting his friend Crystal Gayle who was heading the bill. Later that year Ray gave up Country music for a desire to return to Rock'n'Roll. "I signed to Ronco Records in 1981 to be involved with the Lp "Rockhouse".
I sang the title medley plus recorded one of my own compositions "Rockabilly Ronda". The album featured such luminaries as Shakin Stevens and Dave Edmunds among others. This LP went gold". The following year Ray sang on Ronco's " The Great Country Music show", performing my song "The Unforgiving Heart".
That album was also a top twenty album. In 1996 Ray visited America for the first time and within a week had three songs published and appeared at the famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville. Since Ray's illness in 2002, his live workload has reduced. Legendary guitarist Bert Weedon has been a "great help and inspiration to me, encouraging me to play my Hoffner Committee guitar" (which he himself helped to design, as part of the committee).
"Because of Bert I have played lead guitar on many of my recent recordings". Ray's composition "You took my love for granted" was recorded by John Leyton as the 'B side' of his hit single "Wild Wind", which topped the chart around the world. In 2006 Ray was seen on Television again, this time on Inside Out London on BBC1. Recently one of Ray's compositions "James Dean is Back" played four times (so far) on Radio 1, including the Chris Moyles Show, proving that Ray still occupies the cutting edge of popular music today.
Ray is still very active with his songwriting and is always looking out for other musicians to work with, as well as artists to record his songs. Please feel free to enquire. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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