Each week on Rear-view Mirror, Rich Terfry and the Radio 2 team look back at a great R&B/soul song from the good ol’ days. In today's story, we look at the transition from Ray Charles as hit songwriter to master song interpreter.
Listen to the full segment of Rear-View Mirror here.
In 1960, Ray Charles was at a crossroads. He had to face some very difficult decisions with his life and career on the line. Through the late '50s, Charles was a hit-making machine, with songs like “I Got a Woman,” “Drown in My Own Tears” and “What’d I Say.”
On the heels of his incredible run of success, he was offered the most lucrative record deal of the day. But just as the ink was drying on the contract, he decided he didn’t want to write hit songs anymore and reinvented himself as one of the greatest song interpreters in music history. It was a risky move that surely made his record company nervous, but they all hit the jackpot. The hits kept coming. Charles didn’t write “Georgia on My Mind” or “Hit the Road Jack,” but he turned them into mega hits.
But at the peak of his fame and success, Charles faced bigger challenges in his life than he ever had in his career. In 1965 he was busted for possession of heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for 20 years. He faced jail time, but steered clear of it by managing to kick the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles.
Ray Charles’s career was hit and miss after that. But when he made his comeback in 1966, he came roaring out of the gates with a song that captured his determination to take control of his life and career back into his own hands.
Long before Amy Winehouse said no to rehab, Ray Charles said “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”
R&B History Moment: "I Got a Woman," Ray Charles
Osaka Monaurail, Japan’s funkiest orchestra
More in this series:
Rear-view Mirror: Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'
Rear-view Mirror: James Brown’s ‘Papa's Got a Brand New Bag’
Rear-view Mirror: Gladys Knight and the Pips' 'Midnight Train to Georgia'
Rear-view mirror: Bobby Womack, reluctant star
Rear-view mirror: The Supremes trip into psychedelic pop
Rear-view mirror: Otis Redding's swan song
Rear-view mirror: Aretha Franklin's curse of success
on Jul 18, 2012