Johnnie Ray began recording in December of 1951 and soon became the artist to see and witness on stage and on the new medium called television.
Johnnie single handedly changed the face of music from its mundane vocalists that were window dressing for big band orchestras to exciting never before seen performances. Johnnie Ray brought the world of black music to the all white audiences.
With his rendition of ‘Walk and Talk with my Lord’ a spiritual typically sung in a holyroller church, it caught the white audiences by surprise. Johnnie would admit the black singers at the Flame Show Bar had taught him to sing. Johnnie took notice of how they sang soul and blues, how they expressed and felt the lyrics. The music had existed for years, but because of the racial discrimination most white audiences had never heard it except a few jazz fans.
Johnnie Ray would burst onto the music scene with a new gimmick. He had honed his craft as an intermission singer at the black and tan club. People became aware of his odd singing style and his antics during his performances.
Once over the shock of seeing this totally uninhibited white singer, they began to listen to the lyrics and messages of his other music.
Viewers began to be mesmerized by this handsome young man who would hold his audience in his hands and toy with their emotions. Johnnie Ray would build the bridge from the big band era to what would become known as rock and roll. He was on his way to becoming the biggest international star of all time.
He would be the white, male, sassy, blues singer. Much like the black entertainers, Johnnie had hidden hurts. He wanted to express his feelings through music. He became a communicator, a fantastic performer and above all a great showman.
Johnnie Ray could have been the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. Some bad personal and career choices let it get away from him. Because he was such a hit maker the other recording companies would bring their featured singer in and record the same song which became competitive and forced listeners to make a choice on which artist to buy and request on the radio.
early 1960 Johnnie unable to find steady work in the
Johnnie Ray was demonstrative, dynamic and definitely an entertainer that could easily create hysteria, magic and had the ability to sing to a single person in a crowd of thousands.
The fans who loved him in the beginning still love him today.
He is spoken of with reverence and undying love and admiration.
This archive is dedicated to Johnnie Ray. My friend of 38 years.
Will the folks I used to know remember me?
Although over 50 years have passed since the recording.
I can assure you, Johnnie Ray
We still remember you.
Because you touched us like no other.
You remain part of our life.
Your toiling days are over.
God will give you peace and rest.
You can flash that warm smile, knowing we have not forgotten you.