Ray Price For The Good Times

Ray Price.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Ray Price, one of country music's most popular and influential singers who had more than 100 hits and was one of the last living connections to Hank Williams, has died. He was 87. Price died Monday December 16, 2013 at his ranch outside Mount Pleasant, Texas, said Billy Mack Jr., who was acting as a family spokesman. Price was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and it had recently spread to his liver, intestines and lungs, according East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. He stopped aggressive treatments and left the hospital last Thursday to receive hospice care at home. At the time, his wife, Janie Price, relayed what she called her husband's "final message" to his fans: "I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years, and I hope I haven't let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I'm going to be just fine. Don't worry about me. I'll see you again one day."

Some of his well-known recordings include "Release Me", "Crazy Arms", "Heartaches by the Number", "For the Good Times", "Night Life", and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me". He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

In 1953, Price formed his band, the Cherokee Cowboys. Among its members during the late 1950s and early 1960s were: Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Darrell McCall, Van Howard, Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Bush, Buddy Emmons, Pete Wade, Jan Kurtis, Shorty Lavender and Buddy Spicher. Miller wrote one of Ray Price's classics in 1958, "Invitation to the Blues", and sang harmony on the recording. Additionally, Nelson composed the Ray Price song "Night Life".

During the 1960s, Ray experimented increasingly with the so-called Nashville sound, singing slow ballads and utilizing lush arrangements of strings and backing singers. Examples include his 1967 rendition of "Danny Boy", and "For the Good Times" in 1970 which was Price's first country music chart No. 1 hit since "The Same Old Me" in 1959. Written by Kris Kristofferson, the song also scored No. 11 on the popular music chart and featured a mellower Price backed by sophisticated musical sounds, quite in contrast to the honky tonk sounds Price had pioneered two decades before. Price had three more No. 1 country music successes during the 1970s: "I Won't Mention It Again", "She's Got To Be A Saint", and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me." His final top ten hit was "Diamonds In The Stars" in early 1982. Price continued to have songs on the country music chart through 1989. Later he embraced gospel music and had recorded such songs as "Amazing Grace", "What A Friend We Have In Jesus", "Farther Along" and "Rock of Ages".

Price is no small way a big reason the popularity of country music was expanded as country and western became country. "If you got a pop hit, you sold a lot more records," Price said in 2000. "It was my style, really. I sang ballads, sort of laid-back. I'm still a country boy. I don't pretend to be anything else."

Ray Price was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, a long time after he had become dissatisfied with Nashville and returned to his home state of Texas.

His importance went well beyond hit singles. He was among the pioneers who popularized electric instruments and drums in country music. After helping to establish the bedrock 4/4 shuffle beat that can still be heard on every honky-tonk jukebox and most country radio stations in the world, Price angered traditionalists by breaking away from country. He gave early breaks to Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and other major performers. And helped Kristofferson with his recording of “For The Good Times”.

His "Danny Boy" in the late 1960s was a heavily orchestrated version that crossed over to the pop charts. He then started touring with a string-laden 20-piece band that outraged his dancehall fans.

Ray Price is one of the last of his breed, I think only Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard are left that symbolize the original Nashville Country artist.

Rest it in peace Ray, I can hear you now, singing, “ Don’t look so sad , I know it’s over. But life goes and this old world will keep on turning. For the good times.”