Ray, Johnnie Biography

biography of Ray, Johnnie

John Alvin Ray
The Cry Guy The Prince of Wails
10 January 1927, Dallas, Oregon, USA
24 February 1990, Los Angeles, California, USA (liver failure)
One of the greatest of the transition singers between the crooners and the rockers, Johnnie Ray was the only son of Elmer and Hazel Ray. After partially losing his hearing in a youthful accident, he began singing locally in a wild, flamboyant style, unlike any other white singer up to that time, that eventually made him an international sensation. His early songs, such as "Cry" and the mawkish "The Little White Cloud That Cried", were major hits, but his open bisexuality and brushes with the law caused his star to wane in the US. He remained popular in the UK and Australia until his death, which came after a lifetime of abusing pills and liquor.

-   'Marilyn Morrison' (25 May 1952 - January 1954) (divorced)

-   Would become enraged if anyone mispelled his first name.

-   Best man at 'Judy Garland' (qv)'s wedding to 'Mickey Deans' (qv) and opening act for Garland on the Scandinavian tour Deans set up for her in early 1969, which were her last live performances before her death in June 1969.

-   Originally partly deaf in his left ear, a botched operation later left him hearing-impaired in both ears.

-   'Morrissey' (qv), the lead singer of 'The Smiths' (qv), often performed with a hearing aid (though not hearing impaired himself) in honor of Ray.

-   Was a close friend of actor 'Christopher George (I)' (qv).

-   Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 723-725. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.

-   The first pop singer to have a two-million-selling two-sided hit with "Cry" / "The Little White Cloud That Cried" (1951).

-   His soulful performance of "Cry" was a forerunner to 'James Brown (I)' (qv)'s "Please Don't Go".

-   He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard.

-   Awarded his latest Gold Record posthumously in 2000 for the Columbia Records CD compilation "16 Most Requested".

-   Played his last engagement at the Salem, OR theatre in his hometown, where he is now buried.

-   In the last years of his life he was honored by contemporary rock stars with mentions in the lyrics of three major hits--the #1 "Come On Eileen" by 'Dexys Midnight Runners' (qv), 'Billy Idol' (qv)'s "You Don't Need a Gun" (which also featured Johnnie's last on-screen appearance in the music video) and 'Billy Joel' (qv)'s "We Didn't Start The Fire," which hit #1 while Johnnie was in the hospital.

-   In 1968, when he needed to update his SAG benefits, he called producer 'A.C. Lyles' (qv) and asked for any kind of role in the film that Lyles was about to shoot, _Rogue's Gallery (1968)_ (qv). He was cast as a squad-car cop.

-   Discovered and signed by Danny Kessler of Okeh Records (a subsidiary of Columbia which recorded mostly Black artists) when he went to the Flame Bar in Detroit to scout the Black singer-pianist Little Miss Cornshucks. When he found that Cornshucks already had a record contract, Kessler auditioned and signed Ray, who was performing during the intermissions. When Kessler brought Ray's demo record back to New York and played it for Okeh's executives, they immediately thought he'd found them a Black girl who sang like Dinah Washington. "Actually, he's a guy," Kessler explained. "And he's white.".

-   J. Whiteside, "Cry: the Johnnie Ray Story" (1994)

-   I am constantly asked why I never made other films after _There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)_ (qv). The answer is I was never asked.

-   [asked about his appeal to his mostly female audience] I've got no talent. Still sing flat as a table. I'm a sort of human spaniel. People come to see what I'm like. I make them feel, I exhaust them, I destroy them.

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Acting in movies

  1. "All You Need Is Love" (1977) {Good Times: Rhythm and Blues (#1.10)}
  2. Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer (2006) (V)
  3. Pure 80's: The DVD (2002) (V)
  4. "Paul Merton's Palladium Story" (1994) {Act Two: The Television Years (#1.2)}
  5. Royal Variety Performance 1987 (1987) (TV)
  6. "CHiPs" (1977) {The Great 5K Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party: Part 2 (#4.6)}
  7. Juke Box Saturday Night (1979) (TV)
  8. "CHiPs" (1977) {Roller Disco: Part 2 (#3.2)}
  9. American Bandstand's 25th Anniversary (1977) (TV)
  10. Fall In, the Stars (1977) (TV)
  11. "The Merv Griffin Show" (1962) {(1977-09-21)}
  12. "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962) {(1973-04-06)}
  13. "The ABC Comedy Hour" (1972) {The Twentieth Century Folies}
  14. "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962) {(1972-01-14)}
  15. "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962) {(1972-03-07)}
  16. "Della" (1969) {(#1.192)}
  17. "The Andy Williams Show" (1969) {(1970-10-10)}
  18. "The David Frost Show" (1969) {(#2.129)}
  19. "The Joey Bishop Show" (1967) {(#3.192)}
  20. Rogue's Gallery (1968)
  21. "Frost on Sunday" (1968) {(#1.19)}
  22. "The Hollywood Palace" (1964) {(#5.16)}
  23. "The Joey Bishop Show" (1967) {(#2.91)}
  24. "The Joey Bishop Show" (1967) {(#3.29)}
  25. "The Woody Woodbury Show" (1967) {(#1.16)}
  26. "Bandstand" (1952) {(#6.121)}
  27. "Spectacular" (1956) {Johnnie Ray Sings}
  28. "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium" (1955) {(#5.22)}
  29. "Spectacular" (1956) {Johnnie Ray}
  30. "The Patti Page Oldsmobile Show" (1958) {(#1.16)}
  31. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#12.30)}
  32. "The Dick Clark Show" (1958) {(#1.1)}
  33. "The Garry Moore Show" (1958) {(#1.8)}
  34. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#11.15)}
  35. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#11.39)}
  36. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#11.50)}
  37. A Santa for Christmas (1957) (TV)
  38. "Spectacular" (1956) {The Johnnie Ray Show}
  39. "The Big Record" (1957) {(#1.11)}
  40. "The Jackie Gleason Show" (1952) {(#5.28)}
  41. "The Jackie Gleason Show" (1952) {(1957-06-08)}
  42. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#10.32)}
  43. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#11.2)}
  44. "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium" (1955) {(#2.32)}
  45. "Frankie Laine Time" (1955) {(#2.5)}
  46. "Person to Person" (1953) {(#3.39)}
  47. "Shower of Stars" (1954) {(1956-10-27)}
  48. "Shower of Stars" (1954) {50's Music (#3.2)}
  49. "The Jimmy Durante Show" (1954) {(#2.23)}
  50. "General Electric Theater" (1953) {The Big Shot (#3.18)}
  51. "Shower of Stars" (1954) {That's Life (#1.6)}
  52. "The Jackie Gleason Show" (1952) {(1955-01-01)}
  53. "The Jackie Gleason Show" (1952) {(1955-01-08)}
  54. "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium" (1955) {(#1.2)}
  55. "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium" (1955) {(#1.6)}
  56. There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
  57. "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (1950) {(#5.2)}
  58. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#7.18)}
  59. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#8.13)}
  60. "The Jack Benny Program" (1950) {Johnnie Ray Show (#4.4)}
  61. "Toast of the Town" (1948) {(#6.25)}