Ray Charles Discography: A Legendary Musician's Legacy
Ray Charles was one of the most influential and versatile musicians of the 20th century, who blended genres such as soul, R&B, jazz, country, blues, gospel and pop. He was also a prolific songwriter, composer and producer, who owned his own labels and publishing companies. He recorded over 60 studio albums and 120 singles during his career, which spanned from 1949 to 2004. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to music.
In this article, we will explore Ray Charles' discography, focusing on his albums and singles released under different labels and periods. We will also highlight some of his most popular and acclaimed songs and albums.
The Atlantic Years (1952-1959)
Ray Charles signed with Atlantic Records in 1952, after recording for several independent labels. He had his first hit with "I've Got a Woman" in 1954, which established his distinctive style of combining gospel vocals with secular lyrics and blues rhythms. He also experimented with different musical forms, such as jazz, Latin and rock and roll. He collaborated with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson on two albums: Soul Brothers (1958) and Soul Meeting (1961). He also recorded several live albums, such as Ray Charles at Newport (1958) and Ray Charles in Person (1960).
Some of his most famous songs from this period include "What'd I Say" (1959), which was his first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100; "The Night Time Is the Right Time" (1958), which featured his backing vocal group The Raelettes; "Lonely Avenue" (1956), which was written by Doc Pomus; and "Hallelujah I Love Her So" (1956), which was covered by many artists such as The Beatles and Stevie Wonder.
His last album for Atlantic was The Genius of Ray Charles (1959), which showcased his versatility as a singer and arranger. It featured big band arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns on one side, and string arrangements by Marty Paich on the other. It included songs such as "Let the Good Times Roll", "Deed I Do" and "Come Rain or Come Shine".
The ABC Years (1960-1973)
Ray Charles left Atlantic Records in 1960 and signed with ABC-Paramount, where he gained more artistic freedom and ownership of his masters. He also started his own labels, Tangerine and Crossover. He expanded his musical horizons by incorporating country, western, folk and pop elements into his repertoire. He also recorded more duets with other singers, such as Betty Carter, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson and Diana Ross.
Some of his most successful albums from this period include Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962) and its sequel Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume Two (1962), which featured his renditions of country classics such as "I Can't Stop Loving You", "You Don't Know Me" and "Take These Chains from My Heart". These albums were both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart. He also recorded a tribute album to Hoagy Carmichael called The Genius Hits the Road (1960), which included his signature song "Georgia on My Mind".
Some of his other notable songs from this period include "Hit the Road Jack" (1961), which won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording; "Unchain My Heart" (1961), which was co-written by Bobby Sharp; "I Don't Need No Doctor" (1966), which was covered by Humble Pie and John Scofield; and "Crying Time" (1966), which was a duet with Buck Owens.
The Later Years (1974-2004)
Ray Charles continued to record and perform until his death in 2004. He experimented with different genres such as disco, funk, soul, rap and electronic music. He also collaborated with various artists such as Billy Joel, Michael McDonald, Chaka Khan, B.B. King, Van Morrison and Norah Jones. He also appeared in movies such as The Blues Brothers (1980) ec8f644aee