The Ray Charles Greatest Hits is a review of his achievements and career in music. He was born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia he died on June 10, 2004. He was known as Ray Charles during his singing and recording career. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 50’s, and helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 60’s.
Ray Charles Robinson was the son of Aretha (Williams) Robinson, a sharecropper, and Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic and handyman. Aretha was a devout Christian and the family attended the New Shiloh Baptist Church. When Ray was an infant his family moved to Greenville, Florida. In his early years, Charles showed a curiosity for mechanical things and he often watched the neighborhood men working on their cars and farm machinery. His musical curiosity was sparked at Mr. Wiley Pit’s Red Wing Cafe when Pit played boogie woogie on an old upright piano. Charles started to lose his sight at the age of five and went completely blind by the age of seven, apparently due to glaucoma.
He attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945, where he developed his musical talent. Charles left school after his mother died in 1946, when he was 15 years old. He moved to Jacksonville with a couple who were friends of his mother. For over a year, he played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in La Villa, earning $4 a night. Then he moved to Orlando, and later Tampa, where he played with a southern band called “The Florida Playboys”. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses, made by designer Billy Stickles.
He moved to Seattle in 1947 where he first met and befriended, under the tutelage of Robert Blackwell, a 14-year-old Quincy Jones and soon started recording, first for the Down Beat label as the “Maxin Trio” with guitarist G.D. McKee and bassist Milton Garrett, achieving his first hit with “Confession Blues” in 1949. The song soared to No.2 on the R&B charts.
Charles reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of “What’d I Say”, a complex song that combined gospel, jazz, blues and Latin music and a song that Charles would later say he composed spontaneously as he was performing in clubs and dances with his small band in 1959, and reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and was his first top ten hit single.
He joined Swing Time Records using his own name Ray Charles to avoid being confused with the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and recorded two more R&B hits, “Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand” #5 in 1951 and “Kissa Me Baby” #8 in 1952. The following year, Swing Time folded and Ahmet Ertegun signed him to Atlantic Records. Ray Charles signed with ABC-Paramount Records in November 1959, and achieved success with his next single “Georgia On My Mind” in 1960. This song went to #1 for one week. He followed this with his next big hit in 1961, “Hit The Road Jack” which went to #1 for 2 weeks. Ray Charles followed with his all-time best single in 1962 “I Can’t Stop Loving You” which was number one for 5 weeks and was Billboards record of the year. This was also his last #1 hit on the Hot 100 Pop chart.
Ray Charles first recorded single on the Hot 100 chart was “Swanee River Rock” #34 in 1957. His last top ten hit song was “Crying Time” #6 in 1965. His last top 40 hit was “Booty Butt” #36 in 1971. His last top 40 hit with another artist was “I’ll Be Good To You” #18 in 1989 with Quincy Jones. This was his last charted single on the Hot 100 chart.
All told Ray Charles had 3 #1’s, 11 top 10, 17 top 20, and 33 top 40 hits on the Hot 100 chart. He also had 9 top ten albums. He also had four #1 songs on the Adult Contemporary charts. Billboard ranked Ray Charles as the #3 artist from 1960-1969 and #18 artist of all-time from 1955-2010. He received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1987 and was voted into the R&R Hall of Fame in 1986.
Ray Charles #1 Songs
Below are all the number one songs on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts.
- Georgia On My Mind – November 14, 1960 (1)
- Hit The Road Jack – October 9, 1961 (2)
- I Can’t Stop Loving You – June 2, 1962 (5)
- I Can’t Stop Loving You – June 9, 1962 (5)
- You Don’t Know Me – August 25, 1962 (3)
- Crying Time – February 12, 1966 (3)
- Together Again – April 30, 1966 (3)
Go back to the top 100 songs of all time home page.
Now own some of these precious hits by Ray Charles with his Ultimate Hits Collection (2CD) which has all of his #1 songs.