Who was/is Johnnie Ray ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

 Born January 10, 1927 at Polk Station, Oregon, Johnnie was the second child of Elmer and Hazel Ray, a hardworking farm couple. The family was astonished when the boy, not yet age three, toddled, unprompted, over to a pipe organ that had stood, unused, for years in their house and coaxed a melody, perhaps Rock Of Ages, from the dusty keyboard. As he grew, Johnnie became a popular local fixture in Dallas, Oregon, the nearby town where the Rays moved after the Depression forced Elmer to give up the farm. Playing organ at the local First Christian Church's Sunday school, frustrating his one and only music teacher with an endless capacity to jazz up the classics, grinding out boogies for hours at a time on any piano he could get at, Johnnie led a charmed life.

"Show business was his obsession all the time," his older sister Elma explained, "There wasn't a time in his life when he wasn't pursuing musical interests. It was his single interest in life for as far back as I can remember, and the obsession always showed itself in one way or another." Ray traced the origin of his lifelong show business aspirations to a trip to Dallas' one movie house: "When I was about 5 years old, we saw 'Murder at the Blackboard.' It was a mystery with Edna May Oliver and I remember that so well--it was just like somebody hit me over the head with a baseball bat. I thought 'That's what I want to do with my life.' I made up my mind that I wasn't going to be a farmer or laborer. I was going to be a movie star like Clark Gable or Tarzan."

Although he later reckoned that this "burning ambition to be in the business was strange in itself, given my environment," it was really inevitable. Elmer, his father, was an accomplished country fiddler; indeed, he first met Hazel at a barndance where he was performing with a local stringband. "My basic background in music came from gospel and country & western," Johnnie said. "There was a lot of Western music around Oregon. When I was a kid, I was taken to square dances where Dad used to fiddle. We were well aware of Roy Acuff and far-out people you wouldn't expect us to hear, like the Maddox Brothers & Rose, Homer & Jethro. I sang in church a bit. Don't know whether you'd call it gospel. It depended on the spirit in which you sang it. After all, you can take 'Bringing in the Sheaves' which is basically a hymn, and make a gospel out of it. Basically, it was a combination, a wedding of the two kinds of influences."

As the gifted village eccentric, well liked by boys and girls alike, his need to entertain was not only unquenchable but also much in demand, and the hillbilly and gospel mixture provided a rich stylistic bedrock. After his elder sister Elma fanned Johnnie's smoldering talent by exposing him to her not inconsiderable collection of jazz and swing records, the recipe was complete.

Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, Johnnie and Elma led an idyllic life, and with his natural talent it seemed as if the boy's existence was an entirely charmed one. Johnnie frolicked through his childhood, singing away the afternoons in hay lofts, exploring the local woods, mounting backyard entertainment programs, eventually joining his friends as a member of the Boy Scouts of America.

In the summer of 1940, Dallas was site of a Boy Scout Jamboree. Troops from all over the Pacific Northwest flooded the area, setting up tents in a field behind the Dallas City park. 13 year old Johnnie was among the sea of boys, and eagerly fell in when his own troop organized a blanket toss. Then, Johnnie's turn: flying up into the wild blue yonder, silhouetted against the sun for a brief instant and just as suddenly back down—but someone, someone accidentally (or on purpose?) let go of the fabric. Johnnie slammed, head first, into the ground. The shaft of a dry straw was all it took to tear through his ear drum; he instantly and permanently lost fifty percent of his hearing. He wordlessly arose, dusted himself off--there was no tell tale trickle of blood, only a wan smile as he shambled off, alone, towards the nearby woods.

The accident was Fate's stamp upon the boy, a cruelly paradoxical twist for one blessed with such innate musical ability. He never mentioned the fall to his parents, not even to Elma. His condition went undiagnosed for months and Johnnie had no understanding of what happened, assuming perhaps that what seemed mere concussive affects would soon wear off--but Johnnie Ray would never be normal again. He became more and more withdrawn, "the loneliest boy in the world," and, since he could barely understand what anyone said to him, was often thought to be rude, coldly ignoring those who addressed him; he eschewed music and friends; everything was horribly altered. It was during this period that Johnnie Ray went through puberty--probably unaware of when his voice changed. A challenging enough passage under normal circumstances, for Johnnie Ray, it was part of a torturous, unexplainable mess.


Excerpts from the book BCD16285 - Johnnie Ray Cry- Read more at: Copyright © Bear Family Records 

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Copyright © Bear Family Records

More information about Johnnie Ray on
Johnnie Ray: Yes Tonight Josephine (5-CD)
Art-Nr.: BCD16319

Item in stock

5-CD box (LP-size) with 72-page book, 124 tracks. Playing time approx. 329:01 mns. After the astonishing and unprecedented success of the early Fifties, Johnnie Ray 's career tailed off during the later Fifties...and after. The lessening success was compounded by...

Instead of:$129.74 * $125.02 *

Johnnie Ray: Cry (5-CD)
Art-Nr.: BCD16285

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5-CD Box (LP-Format) mit 84-seitigem gebundenem Buch, 129 Einzeltitel, Spieldauer 348:10 Minuten. This is the first of two Bear Family sets that chronicle Johnnie Ray 's remarkable, epochal career. One of the greatest and most charismatic entertainers in American...

Instead of:$129.74 * $125.02 *

Johnnie Ray: Mr Emotion (7inch, 45rpm, EP, PS, SC)
Art-Nr.: 45LAAEP102

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(1987/CBS Australia) 4 tracks EP A1 Yes Tonight, Josephine A2 Build Your Love (On A Strong Foundation) B1 Texas Tambourine B2 I'll Never Fall In Love Again Another one from Discontinued Records, complete with a replica of the front cover of the original 1957 one....

$15.28 *

Johnnie Ray: Cry
Art-Nr.: BCD15450

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1-CD with 24-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 76 mns. An incredible 'Best Of' Johnnie's classic 1950s Columbia recordings. A great value package that includes all the big hits like Cry, Yes Tonight Josephine, Just Walking In The Rain, Look Homeward...

Instead of:$18.82 * $16.46 *

Johnnie Ray: Live At The London Palladium
Art-Nr.: BCD15666

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1-CD with 20-page booklet, 9 tracks. Playing time approx. 33 mns. From beginning to end, Johnnie was a fan favorite in England and this early live recording includes dramatic in-person renditions of his hits as well as more unusual songs in the inimitable Ray style....

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Johnnie Ray: Portrait Of A Song Stylist (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPHAR103

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​(1989/Masterpiece) 18 tracks - Original recordings from 1952 to 1958.

$15.28 *

Johnnie Ray: The World Of Johnnie Ray (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPADEH102

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(1982/Arcade) 16 tracks. Gatefold Cover. The original Hit recordings.

$11.74 *

Johnnie Ray: Remembering Johnnie Ray (CD)
Art-Nr.: CDDOM6492

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(1990/Dominion) 10 Tracks

$23.54 *

Johnnie Ray: Johnnie Ray - On The Trail
Art-Nr.: CDCOL7439

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CD on COLLECTABLE RECORDS by Johnnie Ray - Johnnie Ray - On The Trail

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Johnny Ray: In Las Vegas (CD)
Art-Nr.: CD707102

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(2010/Hallmark) 12 tracks - CD on HALLMARK RECORDS by Johnny Ray - In Las Vegas

$9.38 *

Johnnie Ray: Cry - The Johnnie Ray Story by Johnny Whitside
Art-Nr.: book52299

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Gebundene Ausgabe - 445 - Barricade Books Inc - 1994 - Englisch Cry is the explosive story of Johnnie Ray, 1950s pop music firebrand, considered by many as the missing link between Sinatra and Elvis. Once the world's biggest singing star, Johnnie Ray's...

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Johnnie Ray: American Legend - 16 Greatest Hits (LP)
Art-Nr.: LP31696

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(CBS Embassy) 16 tracks - Original recordings from 1952 to 1957

$21.18 *

Johnnie Ray: Just Walking In The Rain b-w In The Candlelight (7inch, 45rpm)
Art-Nr.: 45COL40729

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Original 45rpm record on the 'Columbia' label from 1956

$11.80 *

Johnny Ray: Love Me
Art-Nr.: CDACMEM086

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(2006/EL) 24 tracks 1951-55

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